Pregnancy, labor, birth, and then breastfeeding… all of these things put high physical strain and demand for nutrients on a mom’s body. It’s so important to take time to nourish and replenish our bodies each step of the way, especially during the crucial postpartum time. Sitting down to breastfeed many times a day (and night) is wearing, but with a cup of herbal nursing tea and one of these lactation cookies, it can be an opportunity to recover and refuel.
These cookies make the perfect gift to drop off to a friend who’s just had a baby, or to make ahead and freeze before your own bundle of joy arrives!
Why Lactation Cookies?
Lactation cookies are full of “galactogogues” — a funny-sounding name for foods that are thought to increase milk supply naturally. Oatmeal, fennel, and fenugreek are some of the most well known. (I also use fenugreek and fennel seeds in my herbal tea for blend for nursing.)
These cookies also contain ingredients that are very nourishing and can replenish the nutrients it takes to make breastmilk. Breastfeeding (and pregnancy) is incredibly taxing on the body so we can use every bit we can get!
Though the scientific evidence on galactogogues and whether they really boost milk supply is mixed, many moms swear by them. Since they are natural and not likely to cause any side effects, I’m willing to go with the anecdotal evidence on this one! (But do check with a lactation consultant first to be sure you really need to boost milk supply… more on that below.)
The Nourishing Ingredients
This lactation cookie recipe has a combination of beneficial ingredients to potentially support adequate milk supply as well as boost the nutrients needed to produce milk:
- Coconut Oil – Breastmilk is three to five percent fat so it makes sense to add some healthy fat to the diet. Read more about the benefits of coconut oil here.
- Fenugreek – This seed related to the pea family contains potassium, vitamin C, and diosgenin (the compound that is said to help breastfeeding and milk supply).
- Anise Seeds – Good source of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, iron, and manganese.
- Flax Seeds – High in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Dates – Good source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc, as well as vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin K. Also a good source of natural carbohydrates.
- Prunes, Almonds, and Oatmeal – These foods are high in iron, which is important as low iron can cause low milk supply. I like to get iron from a food-based source since synthetic iron is hard to absorb and can cause constipation.
Soaking and sprouting the almonds and oatmeal in this recipe helps digestibility and boosts nutrition, so it’s a good step to take when possible, especially if you are trying to heal your gut.
A Note About Lactation Cookies
Though galactagogues like lactation cookies can be helpful in some situations, when struggling with milk supply it’s best to make sure there aren’t reasons other than nutrition causing the low supply. Boosting milk supply when it’s not needed could cause a breast infection called mastitis as well.
Consult a lactation consultant to rule out or address the following possibilities:
- insufficient removal of milk (either by baby or a pump)
- tongue tie or lip tie (which can cause insufficient removal of milk)
- insufficient pumping sessions
- over-feeding by caregiver (so it only seems like mom’s not producing enough)
- hormonal imbalance
If a lactation consultations and supportive foods don’t help, donor milk or a homemade organic baby formula are other options to try.
Lactation Cookies Recipe (Gluten Free)
- 2 TBSP fenugreek seeds
- 1 TBSP anise seeds
- 1/3 cup flax seeds
- 1 cup almonds soaked overnight and dehydrated
- 1 cup mix of dates and prunes
- ½ cup coconut oil melted
- 1/3 cup shredded coconut
- 1 cup oatmeal soaked overnight
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 TBSP vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 5 eggs
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup optional
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Put fenugreek, anise and flax seeds, almonds, dates, and prunes into a food processor.
- Blend until smooth.
- In a large bowl, mix together all remaining ingredients.
- Mix in date mixture until well combined.
- Spoon by heaping tablespoon onto a cookie sheet.
- Bake for 12 minutes.
Have you tried lactation cookies? Do you think they worked?