I remember those early days of motherhood – struggling to cope with sleep deprivation and working out this breastfeeding thing! One particular memory that stands out is how ravenous I would often be, especially in the middle of the night. I always struggled to make good choices about what to eat at those times. Cookies and biscuits were often my solution (let’s face it, anything you can eat with one hand is good, right?). How I wish I had known about the easy breastfeeding snack that can be GOOD for you plus promote your milk production – lactation cookies! These cookies usually contain galactagogues, which are milk-boosting agents.
Recently there has been an explosion in the market for products aimed at breastfeeding – from feeding cushions and chairs to breast massagers and pumps. But it’s the food products like teas and cookies where you need to do your research and make sure that what you are eating is not a sugar-filled over-priced cookie with no lactation benefits!
World Breastfeeding Week commenced on August 1st, an annual campaign organised by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). So we thought this was the perfect opportunity to get the lowdown on all things lactation cookies from our friends at Totally Devoted and Yummy Mummy Food Company, and find out why all lactation cookies are not created equally.
What Makes a Healthy Lactation Cookie?
There are a number of hero ingredients that are known to assist in milk production, and these are what you want to find in your lactation cookies.
Oats are a wonderful ingredient for breastfeeding and pregnant mothers as they are full of dietary fibre and can help relieve constipation. They are a great source of essential vitamins such as folic acid, biotin, vitamin e and thiamine. The low glycemic index of oats can result in longer lasting energy, which is pretty helpful when you’re getting up multiple times a night!
Also known as flaxseeds, the omega 3 essential fatty acids in linseeds can help prevent excess biochemicals that the body produces under stress. Another benefit for busy parents.
Coconut oil has a wide range of health benefits and if included in a lactation cookie is an ingredient that can help keep it dairy free. The lauric acid contained in coconut milk is a medium chain fatty acid which is also found in breast milk. With antifungal, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties, coconut oil really is a super food.
Buckwheat flour is fantastic as a wheat-free option that is high in lysine, b vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper. It’s also high in fibre and it contains the right essential amino acids.
Fennel and fenugreek
Both of these have been used for centuries in many cultures as a galactagogue aid. In India a tea of fenugreek is made for new mothers to drink every morning to assist with milk production.
What Should You Avoid in a Lactation Cookie?
Choose lactation snacks that are as wheat, dairy, refined sugar and preservative free as possible.
If your cookies contain chocolate, look for organic chocolate that doesn’t contain emulsifiers or E551, an anti-caking agent. Anti-caking agents absorb moisture and prevent other compounds from sticking together. They can contain aluminium, which can be toxic to the body and high levels can cause damage to the kidneys, muscles, digestive system and bones.
Often lactation cookies contain brewer’s yeast as the main active milk boosting ingredient. While this ingredient can certainly boost milk production, it can also contribute to yeast overgrowth in mother and/or baby. There’s even higher risk if a mother has cracked nipples from breastfeeding or their baby was delivered by C-Section (with a dose of antibiotics).
Let’s face it, parenting IS hard work, you do deserve to let yourself have some treats, but this World Breastfeeding Week, let’s take some time to make sure we’re providing mothers and babies with as nutritious an option as possible when it comes to lactation snacks, as this can only further help breastfeeding success rates long term too.
By Jesse Wilson & Kelly Northey
Jesse Wilson is the founder and creator of the New Zealand made Totally Devoted Range food products including Lactation Cookies and Tea amongst other functional food products for the whole family. Using her extensive experience as a chef, combined with her life-long interest in natural health and nutrition, Jesse has been providing families with nutritious food with benefits since 2012.
Kelly Northey is the founder of the Yummy Mummy Food Company, distributing the Totally Devoted range Australia-wide, helping mums and mums-to-be reduce morning sickness symptoms or increase their milk supply.