Amanda Peet went on Ellen today and shared a photo of herself brushing her teeth while wearing a black bra stuffed with cabbage leaves. The actress, who gave birth to her third child, Henry, in December said that she had put cabbage in her bra to help with the pain of breast engorgement from breastfeeding. The photo was taken by her husband, Game of Thrones co-creator David Benioff.
“Apparently when you get engorged—after the baby’s born, the milk comes in—and some people get very painful engorgement. And you can put cold cabbage leaves on your boobs and apparently it stops the milk,” Peet said. “This is my husband being very amused by my porno boobs even though I’m in excruciating pain.”
Breast engorgement, when your breasts become uncomfortably full of milk, is common in the early days of nursing when your breast milk is still coming in, but can happen at any time, according to the La Leche League. Cabbage leaf compresses are a common home remedy for breast engorgement and the group recommends using the inner leaves of the cabbage (removing the hard vein) and crushing them with a rolling pin before placing the leaves inside your bra. You can use them either refrigerated or at room temperature and change them every two hours. Since the leaves may affect milk production, you may want to remove them once the swelling goes down.
Peet said that she had used cabbage leaves for breastfeeding engorgement when her daughters were babies (Frances is now 7 and Molly is 4), but that they didn’t really offer that much relief. If you’re facing the pain of breast engorgement (and the cabbage leaves aren’t working for you!), here are other ways to reduce the pain from the La Leche League.
Aim to prevent it. The best way to deal with engorgement is to prevent it by nursing frequently, as soon after birth as possible and about ten times a day after that. Check that your baby is latched on well (ask a lactation consultant at a breastfeeding support group or your pediatrician if you need help) and nurse your baby on demand, trying to drain your breast before switching sides. (Alternating the breast you offer first at each feeding can help.)
Try gentle massage. Gently stroke your breast downward with the palm of your hand in a circular motion toward the nipple. Doing this in a warm shower can provide added relief.
Express some milk. If your breasts are painfully full, you can apply a warm compress and use a pump to express some milk before a feeding. Limit your use of warm compresses (since it increases inflammation) and use cold compresses (or cabbage leaves!) to relieve the pain.
Watch Amanda Peet tell Ellen about her breast engorgement: