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The Trouble With Lactation Cookies (and other lactation recipes)

The trouble with lactation-inducing cookies and other recipes is that they seem so easy!  Eat this small, tasty thing and BAM!  You’ll have more milk!  You can buy them easily – you can even make them!  Heck, some professionals will even sell them to you!  What’s not to love about lactation cookies?

But generally I don’t think they’re an appropriate solution, and it looks like I’m not the only one.  When one mum posts in a breastfeeding support forum and asks for lactation recipes, she’ll generally receive two types of responses.  The first type will be eager mums who are happy to be helpful, sharing their favourite milk-boosting foods – cookies, smoothies, oats, beer and five hundred different ways to have milo.

The second types, however, are more hesitant and probing.  Why do you think you need to make more milk?  How many wet nappies is your baby having each day?  How many dirty ones?  Is your baby alert and meeting milestones?  Tell us more.  Tell us what’s happening so we can help you better.  She doesn’t want to give you recipes, because she thinks you might not need them.  Basically these mums want to help you find a better solution than cookies.

A BETTER SOLUTION THAN COOKIES?  WHAT?  WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?!

Nope, it’s actually true.  There are better solutions.  You can ring the Australian Breastfeeding Association.  You can speak to an IBCLC.  You can work out if you have a supply issue, a perceived supply issue, or if the problem is in fact with your baby’s ability to breastfeed rather than your ability to make milk.

But just in case you aren’t on the bandwagon with me, here’s seven more reasons why you should reconsider the cookies.

  1. There’s not really much evidence that they do anything, and if they do, they probably don’t do very much
  2. Some ingredients such as brewers yeast and fenugreek are known to cause belly upsets for mum and bub
  3. Fenugreek comes with some side effects, and is contraindicated by some medical conditions, such as thyroid conditions
  4. Buying cookies or unusual ingredients that you probably don’t normally keep in the pantry to make your own is expensive, especially when weighed up against the fact that there’s no guarantee that they will help
  5. It’s hard to shake off the babyweight when you’re consuming so many extra calories.  If you read the fine print for some well-known lactation cookie brands, you’ll actually find that the claim for extra milk is because you’re consuming extra calories, not because of any special ingredients.  You don’t need special cookies for extra calories, regular cookies can achieve that just fine (if you’re anything like me you could probably even inhale some extra calories just by thinking about cookies)
  6. You might not even have low supply – there are very few medical conditions that impact a woman’s milk supply.  If your baby is struggling to gain weight, there are several more likely reasons than a low supply, and even the very best lactation cookies won’t address any of those
  7. Brewers yeast (an ingredient in most recipes) tastes awful .  You can either eat horrible cookies, or attempt to sweeten them with extra chocolate and sugar, potentially making them a pretty unhealthy option

Taking lactation cookies for a genuine breastfeeding problem, to me, is akin to discovering an unexplained festering wound on your body and simply throwing a band aid over it, without questioning why it’s there or how to get rid of it.

Cookies can seem like a harmless way to boost a mum’s confidence.  I actually feel like they do the opposite – they perpetuate the idea that our bodies can’t make enough milk to sustain our babies on their own.  We would never have evolved as a species if that were the case!  No one ever questions their body’s ability to make blood, unless there is an unusual medical condition involved.  We need to start thinking about breastmilk in the same way – we were made to breastfeed.

This information is general, and does not replace the advice of a medical professional.  If you have concerns about the health of your breastfed child I would encourage you to seek the support of an IBCLC.  You can also call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 MUM 2 MUM

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4 thoughts on “The Trouble With Lactation Cookies (and other lactation recipes)

  1. I’ve seen so many of these posts lately. Milo and Maltesers are all the rage, aren’t they! I’d also like to try to encourage people to trust their instincts more. “No one ever questions their ability to make blood!” haha, but so true! Very informative, great post x

  2. Great read, thank you!

  3. I have been a breastfeeding counsellor for 25 years … the first 20 without location cookies even being a thing! I still managed to help mums work out what was happening and get their babies breastfeeding. I wish Tim Tams were weight loss biscuit but I believe that as much as I believe Maltesers increase lactation.

  4. […] Regular readers of mine will know that I am not the type to lend my name to many products. If anything, I promote more products and brands that I don’t receive any payments or kickbacks from, because I genuinely want to share information about good things with the breastfeeding community (hello Mama Clothing and Cadenshae). My blog is not, and never will be, littered with affiliate links, because not only do I suck at selling things, but I have no interest in it. I politely refuse to collaborate with brands promoting galactagogues because I find their promotion …. […]

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