How Cabbage Leaves Help Relieve Engorged Breasts from Breastfeeding or Weaning

Whether you're struggling with early breastfeeding or you've decided that breastfeeding isn't for you, engorged breasts are not comfortable. I wish I'd known about how cabbage leaves help relieve engorged breasts from breastfeeding and weaning many years ago.



In my case, breast engorgement was caused by problems with early breastfeeding and a poor latch. That's why I created this free 8-step guide for you to succeed at early breastfeeding!

What Causes Breast Engorgement After Having a Baby?

 When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had NO IDEA how much time, thought and effort I would be putting into finding some relief from rock hard boobs. Engorgement in early breastfeeding is totally normal for a lot of people. It's caused by:

  • an irregular feeding schedule 
  • an inadequate latch
  • a late start to that very first breastfeeding session
  • IV fluids during your birth
  • deciding not to breastfeed after you give birth

What are engorged breasts?

Breast engorgement happens when the breast tissue is overflowing with fluids, blood and breastmilk. It's common in the early days of breastfeeding or if you've given birth and you decide not to breastfeed.

How cabbage leaves help relieve engorged breasts from breastfeeding or weaning

It's hard to believe that engorgement in early breastfeeding can be fixed by a head of cabbage.

Yes, that's right. A head of cabbage.

Placing cabbage leaves on your breasts in between feedings, is a great way to treat pain and swelling in the breasts caused by engorgement. The leaves absorb the fluids in from the glands in your breasts and reduce the swelling.

And here's the good news: Cabbages are cheap and easy to find at your local grocery store. As a doula, I've been known to stroll the produce section for my clients who've just given birth, because cabbage leaves actually work!

If you're planning to wean your baby to go back to work or if you're uncomfortable in the first week of breastfeeding, using cabbage leaves can be a great way to deal with some of the discomfort. It may sound a bit weird now, but when your baby can't latch at the breast because your breasts are like rocks, you'll take alllll the cabbage.

How to use cabbage leaves to relieve engorged breasts

  1. Buy a head of green cabbage. You'll find it in the vegetable section of your local grocery store.

  2. Remove the core and gently peel each leaf away from the center of the head. Try not to tear the leaves!

  3. Wash and dry the leaves.

  4. At this point you can put the leaves directly onto your breasts, or you can put them in the refrigerator to cool. Cool compresses usually relieve swelling better than warm compresses. Just before use, crush the veins in the leaf with a rolling pin (or something similar).

  5. Place several leaves over each breast. Make sure you cover ALL of the engorged tissue, including any swollen tissue under your arms. You can use as many leaves as you need.

  6. Leave the cabbage on until the leaves become wilted (about 20 to 30 minutes). Apply the cabbage leaves every 4-6 hours, until your engorgement and swelling subsides (it usually takes a day or two). If the engorgement is severe, cabbage leaves can be used as often as needed.


Cabbage Leaf Compress Tips:

🔴  Do NOT use cabbage leaves if you have a SULFA allergy. Cabbage contains sulfa and may cause skin irritation.

🔴  Don't use cabbage leaves on broken skin. (like cracked or bleeding nipples). Place the leaves carefully so they don't touch any already irritated areas or broken skin.

🔴  Stop using cabbage leaves immediately if your skin becomes irritated, blistered or open.

🔴  Stop using cabbage leaves when your breasts are no longer engorged/swollen.

🟢  Continuous cabbage leaf compression is a great treatment for pain and swelling if you decide not to breastfeed. And it's cheap!

So, whether you're starting a long and happy breastfeeding journey, weaning your baby or just aren't that into nursing, cabbage leaves can help relieve engorged breasts at very little cost. 




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Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup

Hey there, I’m Joanne.

I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!

As the founder and CEO of MamaSoup, I’ve been featured on CHEX TV Morning Show, KawarthaNOW, Economic Development- The City of Kawartha Lakes and MyKawartha.

Still with me? Join me over at MamaSoup to keep the conversation going!

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