Lactation Cookies? Try Saying “Galactagogues”!

Pregnant and non-pregnant women (and men!) alike, everyone can relate to a cookie craving. Chocolate chip, sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, and peanut butter cookies are some of the most popular cookies out there today but what about lactation cookies? Lactation cookies are all the rage at the moment. Whether you’re a first-time mama or not, you’ve probably heard about these famous cookies as a lactation tool. Many breastfeeding moms swear by these breastfeeding snacks and consider them to be an easy way to boost, maintain, and nourish your milk supply. Many dads have been known to sneak a cookie or two for the fabulous vitamin doses!

If you’re having trouble breastfeeding, you are not alone. As many as 92% of first-time mothers encounter issues, along with pain and trouble getting the baby to latch, low milk supply is one of the most distressing concerns for new moms.

The idea of lactation cookies has been around for generations, but the reemergence of DIY recipes online have made sales jump almost 50% this year.

Lactation cookies may be the best-kept secret among breastfeeding mothers. These cookies give moms the essential vitamins they need to nurse effectively. The ingredients in these yummy cookies work in a number of different ways to help moms boost and maintain their milk supply.

The key is galactagogues, which are substances found in various herbs and foods that promote lactation.

Examples of galactagogues include turmeric, fennel seed, oatmeal, and chickpeas, just to name a few. Most of the recipes on the social network include four ingredients, each of which is touted for its milk-boosting properties: Oats, fenugreek, flaxseed meal, and brewer’s yeast.

Brewer’s yeast contains iron, protein, B vitamins, chromium, selenium, and various other trace minerals. Not only does it promote milk supply, but it is also believed to help with fatigue and the “baby blues.”

Wheat germ is beneficial because it contains zinc, which is a must for breastfeeding. Zinc aids the immune system and even helps to protect cracked nipples, a common occurrence when breastfeeding. Like brewer’s yeast, it is also believed to help with postpartum depression.

Oats are another must for breastfeeding mothers. They are high in fiber and full of iron, protein and complex carbohydrates. Low levels of iron in the body can actually reduce milk supply.

Flaxseed has good fats and enzymes, which are important for increasing the content of breast milk.

Lactation cookies are not necessary for all breastfeeding mothers and are also not the cure for mothers facing severe lactation shortages/ dry spells. Consulting a lactation specialist at your closest clinic, doctor’s office, or hospital is always the best route to take when you suspect something isn’t going as well as expected.

“When used in conjunction with other methods, such as hydrating and ensuring you’re eating enough, absolutely,” says Stephanie Middleberg, RD, founder of Middleberg Nutrition in New York City. And even if you don’t notice an increase in your milk supply, the healthier recipes can’t hurt: “Clean lactation cookies contain extremely nutritious ingredients for a nursing mother.”

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence supporting the effects of lactation cookies and galactagogues. It seems a good proportion of mothers who eat breastfeeding biscuits report an increase in milk supply, (but unfortunately, not everyone), and this may be a placebo effect, but scientists really don’t know for sure.

There is no concrete scientific evidence backing lactation cookies- but they sure are yummy!

Shoshi S.
Shoshi is a graduate from Stern College for Women in New York City. Her areas of interest include policy, non-profit organizations, and administration. During winter 2018, she was a White House intern. Shoshi has also interned at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and at Save the Children in New York. As a millennial, Shoshi brings a young and fresh perspective to the worlds of pregnancy and lactation.

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