Published Feb 13, 2007
why are tea bags used for nipple care in a postpartum woman?
I don't believe this is recommended anymore.
"Moist tea bags applied to the nipples are a folk remedy that recent research has shown to have an astringent effect that may promote drying and cracking, and is therefore not advised'
llg, PhD, RN
A little more information on the rationale for tea bags ...
Many teas contain tanic acid, a chemical used to "tan" hides -- dry them out (astringent effect) and make them tough. The tea bags were thought to "toughen up" the nipples.
I don't know about nipple care but I've heard tea bags are good for stopping oral cavity bleeding say if someone is bleeding from teeth extraction or any kind of oral surgery- just moisten the tea bag first and have them bite on it.
This is extracted from La Leche League International:
In some locations, wet tea bags remain a popular folk remedy for the treatment of nipple pain. They are inexpensive and can be found in most homes, making them easily accessible at the onset of difficulties. They may be soothing because of the moist warmth. Tea bags have been the subject of a number of studies; they appear neither to prevent nor reduce nipple soreness (Lavergne 1997). Furthermore, the tannic acid in the tea can act as an astringent causing drying and cracking, rather than healing.
In my unit, we do not recommend tea bags. We do recommend using lanolin-based ointments for nipple soreness between nursing (and not washing off) , as well as washing ONLY with warm water, not soap, and letting the breasts dry naturally in open air, as possible. Also most helpful is expressing a tiny bit of colostrum/milk and rubbing it on the nipple---very therapeutic.
Another thing we teach is proper latching of the newborn in breastfeeding is most critical in preventing severe nipple soreness and even bleeding/blistering. I can't say I would want to use anything that would contribute to dryness of the nipples like tannins, etc.
I always recommend patients seek help from a certified Lactation Consultant or La Leche League group in their area if they are having severe nipple soreness or problems breastfeeding. These resources are amazing and so informative. Probably TMI here, but I hope this helps.
the reason that I ask about the tea bags is because they are included in Clinical Pathway for the Postpartal Period (in my Maternal-Newborn textbook)
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