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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
- ⅓ cup flax seeds
- 1 cup almonds soaked overnight and dehydrated
- 1 cup mix of dates and prunes
- ½ cup coconut oil melted
- ⅓ 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?
Discussion (16 Comments)
Made these today and followed the recipe with a couple simple sins but my dough came out really wet and heavy. Not like a dough at all – couldn’t freeze these pre-baking them as suggested. I used maple syrup instead of honey, as the optional, and ghee instead of coconut oil. I don’t think these substitutions should have resulted in this heavy goopy dough. I tried adding a little more flour and brown rice flour as well, then increased the baking time and they are ok. Just ok. I guess I’d recommend a simpler recipe and there are several good ones out there.
Made these cookies yesterday. They are pretty good – but have a bit of a bitterness to them. I am assuming that is the fenugreek? Also, I didn’t enjoy the texture of the flax seeds and fenugreek in the cookies. When you add them to the other ingredients in the food processor, they don’t necessarily break down. If I made the recipe again, I’d process them in a spice grinder/food processor separately so they were more powdery, then continue with the recipe. I only used 1/4 cup honey which is possibly why I tasted the bitterness and I only used 4 eggs. I used some good quality 70% chocolate that really made these cookies delicious. I really appreciate that this recipe is much healthier than other lactation cookie recipes out there and with a couple tweaks I think I’d like them more next time. Thanks!
Hi! Can you use ground fennel instead of fenugreek seeds? Thanks!
How much liquid is the oatmeal soaked in? Is it 1:1 or an amount that makes them soupy or a soft mush?
I’ve always soaked them in enough to stay fully soaked. It’s drained afterward anyhow.
I read your most current post about ways to boost supply. I so appreciate how thorough it was! I am due any day now with baby #2. My older son has a GI syndrome and is allergic to oats among other things. To be on the safe side, I’m eliminating his trigger foods in case this baby has the same syndrome. I know oats are great for lactation, and of course they are included in this cookie recipe. Wondered if you had any good alternate suggestions for excluding oats from this cookie? I think everything else would be great!
Out of curiosity, are these chewy or crunchy? I don’t mean to be picky but I do prefer chewy. If they aren’t chewy, can I add more of one of the ingredients to make it more chewy? I look forward to trying these out!
Is it necessary to dehydrate the soaked almonds? Seems like I could soak them overnight and then blend the soaked almonds easily with the prunes, dates, etc.
Love this recipe! Excited to try it! Desperately needed a gluten free alternative…just a quick thought…in my thyroid and pregnancy group, it is frequently discussed that fenugreek may be contraindicated for people with thyroid dysfunction as it said to lower t3. So maybe leave out if you have a history of thyroid problems!
I’m so excited to finally see a GF version of these cookies!! Thanks Katie!
Thank you for the recipe! This is one of my favorite gifts to send postpartum friends afar, and I lost my old recipe. Is brewers yeast and old wives tale? I know for a fact my old recipe had that ingredient.
Maybe she didn’t include it, bec it’s based on Gluten.
There is gluten free brewers yeast available to order online, I use the Blue Bonnet brand. It’s gluten free, vegan, soy free, and non-GMO. A bit expensive but worth it. Got it from Iherb.comy
There is gluten free brewers yeast available to order online, I use the Blue Bonnet brand. It’s gluten free, vegan, soy free, and non-GMO. A bit expensive but worth it. Got it from Iherb.com