Cabbage Leaves for Engorged Breasts


It may sound bizarre, but Cabbage Compresses are commonly recommended by midwives and lactation consultants to provide relief for sore engorged breasts.

When your milk supply is establishing, and you are adjusting to life breastfeeding a new baby, breasts can get very full, and feel hard, heavy, hot, and like they are going to pop.

How to Make a Soothing Cabbage Compress

  1. Buy a green cabbage
  2. Gently peel leaves, trying to keep them in one piece without ripping.
  3. Wash thoroughly.
  4. Leaves can be chilled in the fridge for extra relief.
  5. Immediately before using the leaves, crush the veins in the leaf to bruise them, but so that the leaf remains in a cup shape.
  6. Place 2-3 leaves over each breast. Cover all your engorged tissue, including any swollen tissue under your arms.
  7. Leave the compress on until the leaves become wilted, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  8. Repeat application of cabbage leaves three or four times each day. This engorged feeling usually subsides within 1-2 days.

Discontinue direct use immediately if skin breaks out, blisters, or becomes irritated.  Do not use cabbage compresses if the skin is broken, if you have cracked nipples etc.  If the skin is broken, place cabbage leaves around the breast without touching or covering the nipple cracks.

Limit the use of cabbage leaves to 20-30 minutes at a time.  Overuse of cabbage can completely dry up the mother’s milk supply.

Alternative Options:

If you don’t like the thought of using cabbage (or the smell) you could also try:

  • Wetting a baby nappy and freezing.  Using this as a cold compress.
  • Wetting flannels and freezing them, to use as a cold compress.
  • Hot shower.
  • Using a bag of ice for each breast
  • Expressing off a little bit of milk (not too much, else your boobs will make more and you will be sore again in a few hours)
  • Using a Breast Soother (medical grade gel)