Thursday, May 7, 2009

Milk and Cookies - Lactation Boosting Cookies

By Corky Harvey, Co-Founder of the Pump Station & Nurtury and MS, RN, IBCLC

Last week a mom in my Breastfeeding Support Group brought a big plate of delicious cookies to share with everyone. She was struggling a bit with her milk supply and had found a recipe on line for Lactation Cookies (see recipe below). Who knows if it will help, but the moms sure enjoyed them. They all admitted to needing a little something special—like some chocolate or a cookie (or two), in the late afternoon when they are especially tired and the baby is at the fussiest time of day. The cookies brought on a fun discussion about Galactogogues (things that help a woman make more milk) and cultural beliefs about increasing milk supply. Although most women make plenty of milk if they breastfeed often in response to their babies requests, increasing one’s milk supply is a common topic of discussion in our daily interaction with our clients. Many moms know about the herbal remedies (Fenugreek, Fennel seeds, Blessed Thistle, Goats Rue, and Nettle) that are thought to increase milk supply and are easily available in the form of capsules, teas and tinctures. Although there is very little scientific evidence to demonstrate that these herbs really work, the anecdotal reports from many moms are that they can help a lot.

So, what are some cultural beliefs about increasing your milk supply through diet? Here are a few ideas to ponder.

Women in El Salvador are told to drink lots of Hot Chocolate. Mexican women are also told to have chocolate and to have a warm drink called Atole de Maizena. It is a mixture of milk, water, corn starch and cinnamon. If you add rice and serve it cold, it is now called Atolede Arroz. Another choice in Mexico is watery oatmeal with cinnamon called Avenol. The theme here seems to be cinnamon.

Korean women eat cheddar cheese, Algae soup (Myok-Guk) and lean beef or beef broth. They are encouraged to eat a lot more calories.

Some Asian cultures eat seaweed soup, fish soup, and chicken-feet soup.

Some cultures encourage stewed meats and root vegetables.

My own mother thought Brewer’s yeast was a great idea to help almost anything (it is one of the ingredients in the lactation cookies—she’d have loved that). I’m going to Germany next week to see my 8 month old grandson Diego. I’ll find out what moms are taught in Deutschland, but I’ll bet it includes beer.

I think it would be fun to collect many more cultural beliefs about how to increase milk supply. Ask your mothers, aunts and friends and send us a message. It seems to me that most of the above foods have nutritional value and maybe that is the real deal: eat well, have good nutrition, nurse a lot and make lots of milk.

Enjoy the cookies.

Housepoet's Famous Lactation Boosting Cookies

1 c butter
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp flaxseed
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp
3 c oats (thick cut is better)
1 c or more chocolate chips (or
2 tbsp Brewer's yeast (be generous)
Preheat oven to 375. Mix together flaxseed meal and water and set aside for 3-5 minutes. Cream margarine and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Stir flaxseed mixture and add with vanilla to butter mixture.

Beat until blended. Sift dry ingredients together, except oats and chips. Add to butter mixture. Stir in oats then chips. Scoop onto a baking sheet and bake 8-12 minutes.

6 dozen cookies.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting article! My husband's from Mexico and when we lived there, I found out that mothers in Mexico are also told that a beer will help increase their milk production. I always thought that was funny since I thought you weren't supposed to drink when you were breastfeeding!

The Pump Station said...

Many cultures and many moms feel that beer helps the milk supply. There have been a few studies, which were contradictory. It would probably be the Hops in that beer would be responsible for the increase in supply. Hops add Vitamin B’s. However, Alcohol dehydrates people so is usually thought to decrease milk supply. It is felt today that women can have moderate amounts of alcohol while breastfeeding. Best time to drink would be right after a feed, not before. Blood alcohol and milk alcohol levels are the same, but alcohol metabolizes out of your body and out of your milk. Eight ounces of beer, six ounces of wine, or one shot of liquor are considered a serving. If only having one drink (or two drinks with lots of food over several hours) a mother doesn’t need to “pump and dump”. But if you feel any effects of Alcohol in your brain (buzzed) it would be best not to put a baby to breast.
Hope this helps

Sheila said...

I make it a point to go out for Korean tofu soup periodically because I notice my milk supply increases for several days after having this. As mentioned in the article, it does use a beef broth base, but it also uses fermented soybeans and fermented chili paste(I usually order it as mild as possible). I typically order it with oysters. I am not Korean, but love this soup, and it just was all too convenient that my milk supply increased. I haven't read anywhere where a mom nusing for 9 months still would get engorged. (I must add that I still eat many healthy things daily, that I think, contribute to my abundant milk supply - oatmeal, papaya, apples, pears, non-fried foods, rescue remedy for stress, etc.) My munchkin is now 13 months and my milk supply has just mildly tapered.

Unknown said...

The brewers yeast in the cookies is the same idea as the yeast in beer. Whether it is scientifically proven or not I swear by a (as in ONE) beer in the evening to increase milk supply. I am on my third baby and it may just be that a little relaxing helps your milk supply or it may be the yeast. I live in Greece and here they say you must eat lots of soups and Traxana a kind of porridge made with goats milk and wheat.

Anonymous said...

In the event you do enjoy a cocktail and aren't sure whether to give your baby the milk - you can pump and then use Milkscreen to test the milk - it's a great product!

MaranathaMom said...

My Philippino step-mom brings me leaves from her malunggay tree so I can make soup with them. This is also considered a galactagogue

Anonymous said...

a chinese/taiwanese galactogogue is (prepare yourself) pig's feet/peanut soup. basically, it's pig's feet and peanuts boiled together until it becomes a soup. i couldn't do it so my mother made me peanut "soup" instead. you take unbleached, raw peanuts and boil them in water until it becomes opaque. i drank it chilled with a lot of sugar. :-) i know it's strange, but it worked!

Anonymous said...

Both tofu and oyster can boost milk supply.

Ted Greiner said...

Nice post! Here are some references to traditional galactogues (unproven to be effective):

1. Laurus nobilis, in Italy (
2. The dried meat and feathers of the Andean Flicker bird (Colaptes rupicola) (
3. Chasteberry (article says its use for this purpose should be discouraged) (
4. Momordica charantia (
5. Ixbut (Euphorbia lancifolia) (

The best review I've seen suggests that no galactogogue that's been studied works among women who get proper breastfeeding support: Not sure if the ones listed above were included.

Someone should get inspired and study the impact on lactation of any that haven't been studied well enough!