Over the last few years it seems like everyone is jumping on the lactation cookie trend. New pre-made products have been popping up online and stores all with strong claims about how they will help.
I love a cookie as much as any one (warm oatmeal or spicy snickerdoodle…yes, please!) but I don’t recommend them as a Lactation Consultant for milk production.
This is for a few reasons. I have noticed that lots of my patients come to me already trying to take herbs and alter their diet to support milk supply. They invest hundreds of dollars sometimes without really knowing the exact cause of their milk supply problems. Often the issue is low milk supply perception without an actual issue but when there is a problem, it needs to be addressed by a medical provider who can investigate the source and give you personal recommendations.
Different problems need different solutions.
A thorough assessment and history taking can often pinpoint the problem and then we can give you the right “medicine” for what’s really going on. Otherwise, it’s like throwing a dart in the dark. It might hit the target, it might get close, but it’s probably just a random shot.
Milk supply is governed by milk removal. When we take supplements to boost our milk supply there may be some effect but it might also temporarily boost our supply without setting us up for good long term habits. At the beginning, prolactin hormone brings in our supply and transitions milk from colostrum to mature milk. Oxytocin hormone is the main reason that milk sprays and drips out. Over time, our breasts become less sensitive to these hormones and what we need for continued supply is a baby who can breastfeed well!
Which brings us to the next issue. If we take herbs or eat cookies that artificially boost our supply it can mask baby feeding problems. If your baby’s suck is weak or uncoordinated, I want to know that right away and get you on the path to healing! We can work with suck training, a physical therapist, or occupational therapist to make sure your baby is thriving. We don’t want to miss those early signs .
Homemade baked goods are about the most delicious thing I can think of but sometimes the ingredients might actually lower supply. Many recipes call for a fair amount of sugar so if the milk supply problem is created by insulin resistance it won’t be supportive. Some of the other herbal ingredients might also lower supply. Some of the most common herbal ingredients for milk supply are not compatible with the medical conditions which are most likely to impact supply!
And lastly, I think it’s important to consider that we do not need to eat a special or different diet while breastfeeding. Our milk can be plentiful and super healthy following standard recommendations for adults. Our diets may need to be altered for medical reasons and if so, ask your provider to help you come up with a plan. Many of the ingredients in lactation cookies are expensive and hard to find. I’d rather see you snuggled up in bed nibbling on a grocery store oatmeal cookie than driving from store to store for specialty ingredients.
As always, take what works for you and leave the rest behind. Know that this Lactation Consultant won’t judge or tell you what to do. We are here to support you. And if you sister or kind neighbor brings you lactation cookies, feel free to eat them if they work for you and you want to. Just know you don’t *have* to eat them to make lots of milk.
If you are experiencing low milk supply check out our local Lactation Consultants for support and up-to-date information.
-Megan Dunn, IBCLC