Using cabbage leaves and tea bags to ease pain in breastfeeding are some of the popular traditional remedies among new mothers.
Drinking beer to produce more milk, for instance, is a folk tradition that singer Mariah Carey followed. She was accused of endangering her twins with that practice. This particular tradition could be traced back to at least the late 1800s.
Jonathan Schaffir, obstetrician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre, recently surveyed lactations specialists to see how often they pass along this folklore to breastfeeding mothers, the journal Breastfeeding Medicine reports.
The online survey of 124 lactation consultants affiliated with US 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, according to a Wexner statement.
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.
"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.