It is not news that social networks have become part of the support network of different women, including famous ones. From time to time, profiles are means for them to share tips that contributed to their mothering. It was no different with the presenter Rafa Brites, who used her Instagram to talk about the use of cabbage leaf on the breasts to relieve breast engorgement,However, the doubt that arises is: does the practice really alleviate the discomfort?
According to Cinthia Calsinski, an obstetric nurse and breastfeeding consultant, yes. Her justification is that the cabbage leaf has important anti-inflammatory and antioxidant components, such as indoles, bioflavonoids and genistein. "When they come into contact with the breasts, they act on the pain resulting from the increased pressure inside the alveoli and the unpleasant sensations of excessive breastfull," details the expert.
The second reason for its effectiveness is related to when cabbage leaf is used iced, so it becomes a cold compress and vasoconstricts the area, i.e., reduces the diameter of the blood vessels. As a result, there is decreased blood flow in the area, improved lymphatic drainage, and reduced swelling of the breasts.
Read more: Common problems during breastfeeding and how to correct them
What causes breast engorgement, anyway?
Initially, right after birth, breast engorgement can occur as a result of milk engorgement, that is, the descent of the mother's food around three to five days after the baby is born. During breastfeeding, excessive swelling of the breasts tends to occur when they are not being emptied correctly.
This incorrect flow rate can happen due to a number of factors, such as:
- Incorrect baby handling;
- Breastfeeding at long intervals;
- Breastfeeding without free demand;
- Use of artificial nipples, such as pacifiers and bottles;
- Plenty of milk;
- Delay in initiating breastfeeding.
As a result of this mammary engorgement, the lactating woman may develop mastitis, which occurs because the mammary gland becomes inflamed due to the accumulation of milk in the breasts, preventing the natural flow of the mother's food. In addition, the process may be associated with a bacterial infection, in which the use of antibiotics will be necessary.
Read more: 6 precautions for breastfeeding
Beyond the cabbage leaf in the breasts: what relieves this condition?
According to Dr. Pedro Cavalcante, member of the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics (SBP), breast engorgement can be alleviated in different ways, such as:
- Manual milking to empty the breasts;
- Breastfeeding on free demand;
- Massage all over the breast with circular movements;
- Use of an adequate bra, with good support;
- Cold compresses after or between feedings.
"Finally, the use of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are given as a last resort. Also, warm compresses are not recommended, as they can worsen the case by being a stimulus to increase milk production," adds the specialist.
Sources: Cinthia Calsinski, obstetric nurse and breastfeeding consultant, and Dr. Pedro Cavalcante, specialized in pediatrics at the Instituto da Criança da USP, family doctor, and member of the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics (SBP).