Odds are that if you’re a nursing mother you’ve spent plenty of time on Google researching milk supply. How do you know you’re making enough milk for baby? How can you increase the amount of milk you make? How can you make extra milk for storage? Rest assured, there are lots of ways you can support your body properly for feeding baby. If you’re experiencing agonizing issues with low milk supply or simply want to maintain or increase your production, one trick to try is to eat more cookies! Lactation cookies, that is…
Typically, lactation cookies will work in as little as 24 hours or up to several days. They’re packed full of nutrients such as oats, fenugreek, brewer’s yeast, alfalfa, and other foods and herbs labeled as “galactagogues” that could help nursing moms maintain a healthy breastmilk supply or even increase it over time.
Breastfeeding, while an ideal way to nourish and bond with baby, can be tricky-especially to new moms or those nursing for the first time. If you’re experiencing low-milk supply, a dip in production, or want to increase the amount of milk you make, you may consider adding some lactation cookies to your diet. Before you get busy in the kitchen or add them to your cart, there is a lot to know about these powerhouse treats!
What is a lactation cookie?
Lactation cookies are nutrient-dense (super yummy) snacks made specially to help maintain and maximize the amount of breastmilk produced by nursing mothers. Most recipes (store-bought or homemade) include active ingredients to support the nutritional requirements of nursing moms.
Lactation cookies include a mix of herbs and foods called galactagogues, which work with the body’s own systems to help support healthy milk production. Oats, fennel, fenugreek, flax seeds, and brewer’s yeast are likely to be found on the nutrition label or ingredient list. While many of these herbs and foods may not exactly taste great on their own, you can mix them in basic cookie recipes to enjoy a powerful, nutrient-packed snack to help meet the demands of nursing your baby.
Common galactagogues include:
- Fennel seed
- Anise Seed
- Goat’s Rue
- Nettle Leaf
- Blessed Thistle
Many websites, blogs, and companies are now hyping lactation cookies, but the use of herbs and certain foods to help nursing moms maintain and increase their milk production is not a new phenomenon. In fact, women have relied on these superfoods, called galactagogues, throughout history to help encourage healthy milk supply.
Did you know that Hippocrates, the famed Greek physician and namesake of the Hippocratic Oath, suggested that if women’s milk supply is low to offer her the roots and fruit of the fennel plant?
Why should you eat lactation cookies?
No doubt we don’t often think of adding cookies to our diets to help improve our body’s performance, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support adding these treats to your diet postpartum…
- Help Support Breastfeeding: The CDC reports that up to 60% of US women don’t breastfeed for as long as they intend. One reason for stopping nursing early is cited as issues with lactation, which can be supported through diet and nutrition.
- Help Meet Caloric Demands: Nursing mothers need up to an additional 450-500 calories per day to support the physical demands of breastfeeding. Lactation cookies are not only packed with nutrients thought to improve milk output but can also help provide additional (and tasty) calories!
- Help Support Milk Production: While there is no scientific evidence clearly supporting the use of galactagogues, some data suggest that these superfood treats can help increase the amount of milk nursing mothers produce.
We all know that nursing moms need added nutrition to keep up the physical demands of feeding babies, which is why the popularity of the “lactation cookie” has exploded in recent history. You can now find these handy snacks at your grocery store, for purchase online, or even whip them up at home with easy-to-find ingredients.
How can something so tasty be helpful to nursing moms?
Do lactation cookies work?
Low milk supply is one of the primary reasons for breastfeeding failure and women are often seeking advice from their physicians, lactation consultants, friends and family, and good old Dr. Google on how to increase production to continue nursing successfully.
The primary ways to help encourage and maintain healthy breastmilk production to meet the demands of nursing babies are through diet and frequent nursing or expression of breastmilk properly.
Lactation cookies, either homemade or store-bought, are a tasty and convenient way to get additional nutrients that support milk production while helping meet the caloric needs of nursing moms. Remember, nursing moms need an additional 450-500 calories per day to support their hard-working bodies!
Lactation cookies are chock-full of ideal nutrients called galactagogues. A galactagogue is a class of nutrients or food that helps to support the production of breastmilk. Prolactin, partnered with dopamine and estrogen, is the hormone that women rely on for milk production, and galactagogues, when used in conjunction with other methods, may help to increase prolactin levels and, therefore, increase the supply of breastmilk.
Despite their long history of use, there is no concrete scientific evidence that supports the efficacy of galactagogues. This is primarily because of the ethics involved in conducting studies on new mothers and infants and the sheer complexity of studying breastmilk production, herbal supplements, and individuals.
However, there is plenty of evidence to show that well-nourished mothers who nurse or express milk frequently will create a healthy supply of breastmilk. The nutrients found in lactation cookie recipes can support an adequate diet for nursing moms.
How long does it take for lactation cookies to work?
As with any vitamin, supplement or medication, everyone will experience results differently. If you begin adding lactation cookies to your diet, homemade or store-bought, you can expect to begin to see results in as little as 24 hours or within several days.
The important thing to remember when adding supplements to your diet to promote breastfeeding, whether to maintain or increase supply, is to continue nursing and expressing milk frequently and properly.
When to start eating lactation cookies
Before you introduce lactation cookies to your diet to help with breastmilk supply, consider why you’re supplementing your diet.
- Are you struggling with low milk supply?
- Are you working or going to school and want to increase and support your output while separated from baby?
- Is your baby hospitalized, in the NICU, or currently separated from you?
- Are you simply wanting to take steps to eat a more nourishing diet while breastfeeding?
- Looking for snacks that can sustain your appetite and add needed calories?
All of these are great reasons to consider adding supplements like galactagogues to your diet and lactation cookies are an easy, tasty way to pack a nutritional punch.
You can start eating lactation cookies before baby arrives as a yummy, nutritious treat or any time after delivery to help support breastfeeding, or as soon as you notice a dip in supply or have a need to increase your milk supply. However, it’s critical to check with you physician before you begin using herbal supplements because some herbs, like fenugreek, which is a key ingredient in many lactation cookies, can stimulate uterine contractions and should NOT be ingested by pregnant women due to risk of premature labor.
How long should you eat lactation cookies?
You can continue to eat lactation cookies as long as you continue nursing or until your supply needs have been met and you can maintain the desired supply.
Just remember that depending on the recipe or brand that you purchase, you might be getting a lot of extra sugar and other calories that could lead to excess weight gain or other issues. When in doubt, use moderation!
If you are experiencing chronically low supply, it’s probably also time to talk to a certified lactation specialist and your doctor for their recommendations.
How many lactation cookies should I eat?
Follow usage directions on the packaging if you purchase lactation cookies online or in-store.
The number of servings consumed in a day from store-bought or homemade lactation cookies will vary based on your caloric needs, recipe, and active ingredients used. Although you might be worried about your supply, you shouldn’t overdo it.
Are there any lactation cookie side effects?
Side effects from lactation cookies will vary for individuals and will depend on the ingredients found in the recipe or nutrition label.
For example, fenugreek, as previously mentioned, is a common ingredient found in lactation cookies and recommended for lactation support, has been found to cause loose stools in mothers and babies and can also cause both mom and baby to develop a maple syrup smell in their sweat, breastmilk, and even urine.
Brewer’s yeast, another lactation-boosting food, has been linked to headaches, gas and upset stomach and may not be safe for people with compromised immune systems or diabetes.
Be sure to research the ingredients found in your preferred lactation cookie brand or homemade recipe to avoid any unwanted side effects, allergies, or interactions with prescribed medications, and talk with your physician before supplementing your diet.
What happens if you eat too many lactation cookies?
Much like with any herb or medication, it’s best to stick to the recommended serving size advised on nutrition labels when supplementing your diet with lactation cookies to avoid unwanted side-effects like bloating, gas, loose stools, and weight gain due to excess calories.
If you notice any undesirable side effects in yourself or baby, simply decrease or stop until symptoms subside. Be sure to call your doctor to check the list of ingredients to make sure they’re all safe and the recommended dosage is appropriate.
How long does it take for Milkmakers cookies to work?
Milkmakers lactation cookies are among many popular, high-quality store-bought brands. Like any medication or herbal supplement, individual results will vary. Generally, any galactagogue supplement or lactation cookie can produce results immediately or within several days.
Which are the best lactation cookies to buy?
Just like any supplement, the quality or list of ingredients used will drastically affect the potency and benefits to the user. The “best lactation cookie” to buy is one that meets your list of safe and desired dietary preferences. If you’re considering adding lactation cookies to your snack drawer, here a few things to consider:
- Active Ingredients: Check the label and recipe for a complete list of active ingredients used and the amount used to be sure it’s safe for you and baby. Consult with your physician before making or buying lactation cookies.
- Sugar Content: While they add a lot of nutritional value to your diet while you’re breastfeeding, lactation cookies are cookies after all, which means they’ll have sugar as an ingredient. Understand the amount of sugar and recommended servings to avoid unhealthy and unnecessary calories.
- Dietary Restrictions and Preferences: Many recipes or store-bought cookies can be tailored to meet any dietary restrictions or preferences you have. Do some research on which companies may offer vegan, dairy-free, egg-free recipes or try a homemade recipe making your preferred substitutions.
Check out some of these well-loved store brands:
- Munchkin Milkmakers
- Majka Lactation Cookie Bites
- Milkbliss Lactation Cookies
- Boobie Bar Superfood Breastfeeding Bar
How can I make lactation cookies at home?
An easy internet search will quickly yield thousands of lactation cookie recipes to use at home, like this one here. The hard part is picking just one to try! Most lactation cookie recipes are just as simple and delicious as whipping up homemade cookies. Not a fan of cookies? No problem! You can try other recipes like these lactation muffins or these lactation bars.
Most ingredients, like brewer’s yeast, flax seeds, and fennel seeds can be easily found at your local grocery store, online or at your area health food store. Be sure you’re choosing high-quality ingredients to ensure safety and efficacy.
Lactation cookies are safe for the whole family to enjoy, so be sure to make a double batch if you’re going to have to share them!
Breastfeeding is hard work mentally and physically. One of the ways women can support their natural ability to nurse their babies is through wholesome diet and nutrition. The use of galactagogues has been recommended throughout history to help with breastmilk production and now modern moms can enjoy the nutritional benefits of these superfoods packed in a tasty treat made at home or tossed into the grocery cart.
While generally safe, if you’re interested in adding galactagogues, whether in cookies, capsules or herbal teas, to your diet to help increase and maintain healthy breastmilk production, be sure to check with your physician to understand how these supplements could affect you and your baby.