Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Folk remedies often offered during breastfeeding, survey finds

Date:
January 7, 2013
Source:
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Summary:
Breastfeeding advice has been passed down for generations and many new mothers are faced with a lot of information and folk remedies to sort through. Researchers set out to determine the most common advice about breastfeeding and what they found took many by surprise. It's also surprising that breastfeeding specialists in 29 different states relied on the same advice without any formal medical recommendations.

Breastfeeding can be a difficult time for both mother and baby, so using cabbage leaves and tea bags to ease pain or eating oatmeal to increase milk production are among the folk remedies that women pass along to new mothers seeking help.

As experts in this field, lactations specialists were surveyed to see how often they pass along this folklore to breastfeeding mothers, despite a lack of research-based evidence to support these suggestions, according to a recent survey by Dr. Jonathan Schaffir, an obstetrician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Results of the survey are published in Breastfeeding Medicine.

The online survey of 124 lactation consultants affiliated with U.S. medical centers in 29 states found that 69 percent reported hearing of folk remedies, and 65 percent had recommended at least one of these methods.

Survey respondents were asked to provide examples of advice they had heard of, as well as advice they routinely passed on to breastfeeding mothers. Advice was broken into five categories: recommendations to promote lactation, to initiate breastfeeding, to treat pain associated with breastfeeding, to assist with weaning, and about substances to avoid for the baby's sake.

The survey found that certain folk remedies are widely discussed among experts, particularly herbal remedies to increase milk production and cabbage leaves to ease pain from breastfeeding. They suggest that recommending folk remedies that are outside of the medical mainstream is a common practice among lactation consultants who advise women about breastfeeding.

"Despite the frequency with which such advice is given, there is little empirical evidence to support the use of most the remedies listed," said Schaffir. "But I'm all for anything that helps and is safe for the baby."

More than half of the lactation consultants who responded to the survey said they had heard of and passed on a folklore remedy intended to either increase milk production or ease/prevent pain associated with breastfeeding. Many respondents said they were aware of folklore recommendations to avoid certain foods to prevent infant gassiness, but only two educators relayed this advice to patients.

For example, using beer to promote milk production is a folk tradition of long standing that was in the spotlight when celebrity Mariah Carey was accused of endangering her twins for following it. This folk tradition began in the late 1800s, but no studies have demonstrated a positive impact in milk production.

In fact, maternal alcohol consumption has been demonstrated to decrease milk production, and may have an adverse effect on the baby, Schaffir said. Many cultures also encourage mothers to eat oatmeal to increase milk production, but no studies have been conducted to examine its use.

Folk traditions that aid with breast pain or engorgement were also mentioned, including using cabbage leaves, even though studies have questioned their effectiveness.

Several lactation consultants recommend tea bags to help women deal with nipple soreness, but a randomized trial of breastfeeding women with pain demonstrated that tea bags offered no additional benefit than a water compress, Schaffir said. A review of studies that examine treatment for nipple pain concluded that there was no significant benefit to the use of tea bags, lanolin or expressed milk on the nipple.

The lactation consultants who made recommendations based on folklore compared with those who only made medical recommendations did not have any significant difference in relation to age, parity, education, experience or socioeconomic status.

The folk traditions communicated in this survey represent a particular culture in the United States, and folklore in general varies by culture and background. Surveys of lactation consultants in different countries and different ethnicities may yield different results, Schaffir notes.

"With the attention given to these remedies, this survey may spur future research to objectively measure whether such recommendations are actually safe and effective, rather than relying solely on anecdotal evidence," Schaffir said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jonathan Schaffir, Cheryl Czapla. Survey of Lactation Instructors on Folk Traditions in Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Medicine, 2012; 7 (4): 230 DOI: 10.1089/bfm.2011.0054

Cite This Page:

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. "Folk remedies often offered during breastfeeding, survey finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130107082606.htm>.
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. (2013, January 7). Folk remedies often offered during breastfeeding, survey finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130107082606.htm
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. "Folk remedies often offered during breastfeeding, survey finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130107082606.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins