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.