If you are a breastfeeding mother you’ve probably heard a lot about Lactation Cookies (or Boobie Biccies), considered by many to provide a natural boost to your milk supply, but what makes a healthy lactation cookie?
Did you know that foods and drinks thought to increase milk supply are called galactagogues? The word comes from the Greek “galacta” meaning milk and “gogue” meaning to lead.
Milk boosting foods
While some will argue there’s no evidence to prove a particular food can boost milk supply, there are plenty others to insist that lactation cookies are more than just an Old Wives’ Tale. To be honest, if given the opportunity to kick back in a bonding moment with your baby whilst nibbling a delicious cookie – well, we’re not knocking it back!
So, if you’re up for a spot of baking, here are the ingredients to look for to make a good lactation biscuit.
Good milk-boosting ingredients
It’s important to ensure a lactation cookie’s main ingredients are “milk making” ones like these, which have other added health benefits too.
Oats are full of dietary fibre, which is a wonderful constipation-relieving ingredient for breastfeeding and pregnant mothers. Oats also contain essential vitamins such as thiamine, folic acid, biotin and vitamin E, plus they are a great source of slow-release energy.
Linseeds (also known as flaxseeds) contain omega 3 essential fatty acids, which can help prevent excess biochemicals that the body produces under stress, making them great for busy (and sleep-deprived!) parents.
Coconut oil has a wide range of health benefits and contains lauric acid, which occurs naturally in mothers’ milk. Coconut oil is also known for its antifungal, antimicrobial and antiviral properties, with the added bonus of being great for skin and hair. Many recipes offer coconut oil as a substitute for butter for those wishing to avoid dairy.
Buckwheat flour is high in lysine, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper. It’s also high in fibre and contains the right essential amino acids. Best of all, it’s wheat free, making it ideal for those with gluten intolerance.
Fennel and fenugreek
Both fennel and fenugreek have been used in many cultures for centuries as a milk-boosting aid. In India, a tea of fenugreek is often made for new mothers to drink in the morning to assist with the day’s milk production.
Sesame Seeds are a good source of calcium for those on a dairy or meat restricted diet and have long been a favoured galactagogue in Eastern cultures.
Raw nuts, especially cashew, walnut and macadamia, are not only a tasty addition to your lactation cookie recipe, but also believed to be milk-boosting.
Not so good ingredients
New mums and babies often have delicate digestive systems so it’s important that lactation cookies are as wheat, dairy, refined sugar and preservative free as possible until the digestive system has settled down.
Many shop-bought lactation cookies and ingredients will include additives, not all of which are required to be listed on the packaging. The additives that are listed are usually anonymous; their complex names replaced with letters and numbers. Whilst we are assured that these additives are safe, try to select only organic ingredients, or ingredients of as high a quality as budget allows, to ensure you are getting the best nutrition for you and for baby.
Brewer’s Yeast – yes or no?
Almost every lactation cookie recipe you find will contain Brewer’s Yeast as the main milk-boosting ingredient. Brewer’s Yeast is a good source of protein and iron and contains phytoestrogens, which may help with breast tissue health.
Brewer’s Yeast (also known as Nutritional Yeast) is considered an entirely safe and natural product, so why the caution?
More than 70% of pregnant women suffer a yeast infection at some point during their pregnancy, often occurring in the second or third trimester, meaning that many women may be entering motherhood with their yeast balance unchecked.
Thanks to massive hormonal changes, cracked nipples from breastfeeding or a hefty dose of antibiotics for those who delivered by C-section, yeast infections are a common hazard for breastfeeding mothers, so if you are susceptible to yeast overgrowth you might want to reconsider adding any more to the mix!
Concerns about your milk production?
If you have concerns about your milk production or feel that your baby may not be getting adequate nutrition from your supply, always seek the help of a registered lactation consultant or medical professional.
Lactation cookie recipes
There are lots of lactation cookie recipes available on the internet, including no-bake bars, indulgent cookies with chocolate and peanut butter, soft chewy cookies and cookies with a crunch. Our recommendation? Put your feet up and let someone else do the baking because, let’s face it, breast-fed or bottle-fed, parenting IS hard work, so you deserve a little treat now and then.
Kelly Northey is the founder of the Yummy Mummy Food Company, distributing the Totally Devoted range Australia-wide. www.yummymummyfood.com.au
This article featured in Issue 33 of our printed magazine, published April 2019.