by Danelle Frisbie ©2010
I am frequently asked to pass along lactation cookie recipes. My own momma has been baking these up since she was a nursing mother and RN, striving to help other new moms with their babies, 35 years ago -- so I've consumed my fair share over the decades. While there are many variations out there, they are all essentially the same and boast three main ingredients commonly believed to impact milk supply: oatmeal, brewer's yeast, and flax....
So why are these three ingredients the core foundation in lactation cookies?
Oats (or oatmeal) are key in boosting milk supply because of the iron they contain that nursing moms are frequently in need of. Oats are also filling, dense with healthy calories - and nursing moms need calories! Oats are extremely nutritious and easy to work into the diet in a number of ways: cereals, granola, breads, casseroles, meatloaf, cookies - you can add oats to just about anything.Oats are also a great source of fiber. What does fiber have to do with milk supply? My 97 year old grandmother recently discussed the diets of her father's award winning, fatty-milk producing cows back in the 1920s. And guess what they did to increase milk supply? That's right -- boosted the fiber the cows had access to. Farmers have long known this trick, so I suppose milkin' moms can pick up on it too.
Brewer's yeast is an ingredient that has also long been touted to increase milk supply (although contested by some). Brewer's yeast is packed with B vitamins and these are essential to overall health of a nursing mom (and any woman). Even if milk supply were not impacted by brewer's yeast, the boost of energy that comes from its consumption is worth including it in lactation cookies. Once again, looking back on decades past, women have long passed on the knowledge that sipping a deep, hearty beer (sister to brewer's yeast) has a positive effect on milk supply.
The oil from flax seed is considered by many to be a galactagogue (substance that improves lactation). It is also a great form of fiber. And, while it is again debated among those who believe in flax's galactagogue properties or not, one thing is certain: flax is power packed with omega-3 (essential fatty acids) that are absolutely crucial to a nursing mom's diet (as well as baby's diet, and all human health in general). Human milk is super charged with heavy amounts of omega-3 because the brain (rapidly growing in our babies) is dependent on these fatty acids. It is important that a mother not be deficient in omega-3 (something that many are) and risk her baby not getting enough for optimal health, development, and wellbeing. [Note: artificial forms of omega-3 in manufactured formulas do not respond in a baby's body in the same way that natural omega-3 from mother's milk does. Do not buy into the hype that formulas 'fortified with DHA' are good for your baby. Rather, these artificial baby formulas with DHA have been linked with diarrhea, dehydration, seizures.] That said, omega-3 from fish and flax for mom are wonderful! They not only improve milk quality (and possibly quantity) but also boost brain function, memory, joint lubrication, and help to regulate hormones and decrease postpartum depression. It is unlikely that you could get too much omega-3 today, so when it comes to flax (and low-mercury fish if you like) - eat up!
HERE to read the entire article and recipe on Peaceful Parenting