What to Know About Lactation Cookies

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 18, 2022
5 min read

One of the most stressful things for a new mother is waiting for her milk to come in and worrying whether the supply will be enough for her growing baby. 

There are many ways to feed a newborn, including a variety of formulas that can be bottle fed, but if breastfeeding is your method of choice, there are some ways to increase your milk supply to ensure your baby can feed to their heart’s content. A popular method is by supplementing your diet with lactation cookies. But do lactation cookies help?

Lactation cookies are a type of supplement in the form of a cookie that helps encourage milk production postpartum. They can be homemade or bought from bakeries, grocery stores, or online retailers.

Lactation cookies are made with special ingredients called galactagogues which are intended to help increase a mother’s milk supply.

These galactagogues may include herbal ingredients such as garlic, fenugreek, brewer’s yeast, flaxseed, or oats. There are also pharmaceutical galactagogues available, including domperidone and metoclopramide. While clinical trials of both herbal and pharmaceutical galactagogues are few and far between, many mothers claim to have seen an increase in their milk supply after eating such ingredients.

Research on herbal galactagogues is unfortunately sparse, but even if the ingredients in the cookies don’t necessarily increase milk supply on their own, they do provide some necessary nutrients and calories that breastfeeding mothers need. 

Adequate nutrition is an important part of milk production, so simply filling in some of those nutritional gaps may be enough to increase the supply. Some of the most common ingredients in lactation cookies include oats, brewer’s yeast, and flaxseed, all of which provide key nutrients.

Oats. Oats are a great source of dietary fiber, which is good for bowel health. Depending on how they are processed, they can also provide a variety of other vitamins and nutrients. Processed oats typically come in the form of quick-cooking, traditional, or steel-cut oatmeal, or in the form of oat flour, which can be used in place of regular flour in many recipes. Oats are gluten-free, as they use avenins for storage proteins instead, so they’re great for people with celiac disease or other forms of gluten intolerance or allergy.

Brewer’s yeast. In addition to its supposed use as a galactagogue, brewer’s yeast is also used for treating diabetes mellitus. 

This is the same type of diabetes that is common during and after pregnancy, so brewer’s yeast may be helpful for new mothers to regulate their blood sugar and insulin. Brewer’s yeast is also a key source of B vitamins, which improve energy levels – important for sleep-deprived new mothers.

Flaxseed. As a key source of omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed is an important part of a breastfeeding mother’s diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with improvements in cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and gut health, as well as lower rates of some cancers. Flaxseed may also help regulate hormones, helping postpartum mothers bounce back from the hormonal changes of pregnancy.

Other ingredients and benefits. Some of the other possible ingredients in lactation cookies include nuts or nut butters, which provide protein, sugar, which offers quick energy and calories, and flours, which provide fiber and carbohydrates. Breastfeeding mothers have higher calorie needs than normal, so eating a few lactation cookies may help meet those needs.

Lactation cookies are made similarly to many other types of cookie. They include some kind of flour as a base, fats such as butter, leavening agents like eggs and baking soda, and sweeteners. 

While there are a variety of recipes specifically for making lactation cookies, you may also be able to make lactation cookies by adding galactogogue ingredients like oats or flaxseed to a regular cookie recipe. You can also add galactagogues to other foods, or eat them on their own, although some, like fenugreek, are hard on the stomach and better consumed within recipes with other ingredients.

When searching for recipes, try to find ones from trusted medical sources such as hospitals’ or pediatricians’ websites. Research the ingredients before making them, and consult your doctor or pediatrician about whether they would be appropriate for you and your child.

You can purchase lactation cookies premade from several sources. Online retailers such as Amazon offer some commercially produced brands. You may also be able to buy them online from independent bakers. However, if you do, be sure to research the bakery and ensure that their products meet food safety regulations.

National pharmacy chains such as CVS and Walgreens, and box stores like Walmart and Target also often carry commercial brands. You may also be able to find them in stock at your local bakery, or request them specially, if they’re not typically offered.

In addition to galactagogues, there are a few other ways you can encourage milk production. More frequent skin-to-skin contact with your newborn releases hormones that trigger lactation. Feeding more frequently — around 10-12 times during the day — can also signal your breasts to produce more milk. It may also help to fully empty the breast every time you feed by pumping after the baby has finished eating, or compressing the breast to help the milk flow more easily during feeding.

If you’re still concerned about your milk supply, it’s important to get checked out by your doctor to ensure there aren’t other factors preventing lactation such as hormone imbalances. Any number of factors can influence lactation, including stress, sleep, diet, and genetics, so talk to your doctor to rule these out and come up with solutions to produce adequate milk.

It’s important to remember that even if it seems like you’re not producing enough milk, if your baby is breastfeeding exclusively and regularly, and is continuing to gain weight, your milk supply is sufficient. Always consult your doctor or your child’s pediatrician before changing or adding things to your diet, especially when breastfeeding.