Breastfeeding a baby through an increase in demand (like a growth spurt) or a decrease in supply (due to illness, or pumping issues) can be very difficult. Emotions run deep as a mama struggles to produce enough milk to feed her little one. There are several natural remedies that are supposed to help increase milk production in healthy mamas, including oats and brewers yeast. Lactation cookies are a tasty way to get both of these raw ingredients into your diet. But do lactation cookies really increase your milk production?
- Better for you – lactation cookies have some real healthy stuff in them, and are a better choice than standard chocolate chip cookies
- Taste great – lactation cookies are really tasty: so good that others don’t suspect all the healthy goodness within
- Easy to freeze and bake up later
- Easy to adjust the recipe to meet your dietary needs
- These cookies are NOT healthy in the same way that fresh produce is healthy
- Calories still count!
I have been blessed with milk. When nursing both my son and first daughter, I was always able to meet their needs and build a massive freezer stash. Even after returning to work when they were four months old, I continued to pump an extra bottle or two of milk each day. My milk supply faltered, however, after I returned to work with my pump for the third time.
My third baby has been one of those dream babies you aren’t allowed to talk about, so as not to offend/depress other new mothers. She’s a great eater – learning to nurse easily, and also picking up on the bottle with only a couple weeks of coaching. She is also a good sleeper – at 8 weeks she started sleeping 9-10 hours a night all by herself. Amazing!
But a little after 5 months, everything changed. (Just when you feel like you’ve got it all under control, it always, always changes!). Suddenly she started getting up twice a night for a full feeding. Every. Single. Night. Like a normal baby. Maybe she hit her three month growth spurt late? Maybe she just got so big that she needed more food? Whatever the cause, it was a big hit to my milk supply.
Let me tell you, trying to bring your body up to speed with an increase in demand, while NOT with your baby is tough stuff. I added an extra pumping session before my bedtime. I made sure to pump every three hours at work – no slacking off! I was JUST barely pumping enough at work to feed her, and was even a little behind on some days.
I started looking into natural galactogogues – natural substances that promote lactation in healthy mamas. Fenugreek is the serious herb that mother use when their supply in in trouble. I decided not to go that route as my supply was struggling, but wasn’t in crisis yet. Oatmeal, flax oil, and brewer’s yeast are more gateway galactogouges, so I looked for ways to incorporate them into my daily diet.
I started by having oat based granola for breakfast every day, and adding a scoop of brewer’s yeast flakes to my morning hot chocolate. The granola was great, especially with plain yogurt and fresh fruit mixed in! The brewer’s yeast promised to mix tastelessly into beverages, but it did not. Not at all. Blech. Enter lactation cookies!
Lactation cookies were supposedly developed by a nurse who wanted to incorporate many of the natural galactogouges into a tasty treat. There are many lactation cookie recipes floating around the internet: most are a variation of an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. I used the following recipe found at Peaceful Parenting.
Lactation Cookie Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
- 1 3/4 c. oats
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 c. almond butter or peanut butter
- 1/2 c. butter, softened
- 1 c. milled flax
- 3 T brewer’s yeast
- 1/3 c. water
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 large eggs
- 2 c. (12oz) chocolate chips
- 1 c. chopped nuts of your choice
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl
- In a large bowl, beat nut butter, butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, brewer’s yeast, flax and water until creamy
- Mix in eggs
- Gradually beat in flour mixture
- Mix in nuts and chocolate chips
- Add oats slowly, mixing along the way
- Place balls of dough onto greased baking sheets or parchment lined sheets
- Bake for 12 minutes and allow to cool before serving
These cookies were delicious! They were thick and chewy, not too dry, and super yummy as well! My family liked them, and so did some guests who came over the day I baked them. (I did not mention they were “lactation cookies” so no one had to feel awkward about them). The recipe made a TON of cookies – around 5 dozen. I froze about half of them. I packed some up to go with a meal I made for a new mama. I even took a bunch to work, much to the delight of my co-workers.
So did they work? Did I notice a boost in my milk supply? It’s really hard to say… With a typical growth spurt, I’ve noticed my body can catch up with baby’s demand in 2-3 days, as long as we are nursing together the whole time. This was the first major increase in demand I’d experienced while spending half the day with my pump.
Things were dicey for a while. I pumped and squeezed out every possible drop of milk. I worried over quarter-ounces. I optimized my pumping schedule to match baby’s bottle schedule as closely as I could. And I ate A LOT of lactation cookies. Like 6-7 a day for a good week or so. By the end of the second week my supply ROARED back. YAY!
It’s impossible to say for sure if my return of supply was the result of lactation cookies alone. There was also the better pumping schedule, and the pleading prayers of a fretting mama. But without pumping a whole lot more, my body was able to catch up so I was once again bringing extra milk home for the freezer each day. I do think the addition of lactation cookies gave me the boost I needed to get over the production hump I faced. And even if they didn’t help, and it was just placebo? Well, those were still some pretty yummy cookies!!
Have you ever tried lactation cookies? What are some other supply boosting tricks you’ve used?
PS – You know I’m not a doctor, right? This information is based on my experience only and is not intended to diagnose, prevent or treat any medical condition. Your experience may vary. Please remember to speak with your healthcare professional about any medical concerns you have, and follow their recommended course of treatment. You can read additional fine print details here.