I never thought I would ever have such bad engorgement issues, considering I was quite a ‘veteran’ in the field of breastfeeding. Z was such a good and regular drinker that the only time I encountered it was in the early stages due to a poor fitting nursing bra. X, on the other hand, was a terrible drinker. He had irregular frequencies and quantities. However, the science of breastfeeding dictated that the babies could resolve all milk clots. The only problem – X had weaned himself off and would only consume all milk from the bottle 5 months’ ago.
Two weeks’ ago, I was caught in an overrun meeting and had worsening engorgement throughout the weeks. It got more and more painful everyday, and I had to spend a very long time to massage out the clots and it was still not easing up.
I finally went to a GP to ask for medication. I was told that I could take antibiotics (Augmentin) only when the engorgement developed into an inflammation (aka mastitis). The GP, a very nice lady, advised me to use cabbage leaves. I had heard of this old wives’ tale but coming from a GP? Seriously?
Anyway, I did not want to get into a situation where I had mastitis. I bought the cabbage leaves.
You know what? It worked. I left it on for 2 hours, and the engorged milk clots dissolved in another 2 hours’ later.
Mr H was amazed that it really worked.
He ran a Google Search to understand the science why cabbage leaves helped and found this.
Quoted from the site:
The common green cabbage (Brassica capitata) is used for engorgement therapy. Cabbage is known to contain sinigrin (allylisothiocyanate) rapine, mustard oil, magnesium, oxylate and sulphur heterosides. Herbalists believe that cabbage has both antibiotic and anti irritant properties. (Lawrence and Lawrence 257-258)
It is theorized, that this natural mixture of ingredients from Mother Nature’s Kitchen, helps decrease tissue congestion by dilating (opening) local capillaries (small blood vessels), which improves the blood flow in and out of the area, allowing the body to reabsorb the fluid trapped in the breasts. Cabbage may also have a type of drawing, or wicking action, that helps move trapped fluid. In many cases, science is finding cures from Mother Nature’s Kitchen can’t be duplicated in the laboratory. This may be the reason why a gel made from cabbage leaf extract was not effective in treating engorgement (Ayers, 2000; Caplan, 1999; Shifer, 1995; Roberts 1&2 1995)
I had no idea how true the above italicised data was but dear cabbage leaves, thank you for being my saviour and I would never belittle you again!