I need to tell you guys something. There’s something that has been on my mind for a realllllly long time and it’s far past time for me to get it out there. I’ve been sitting on this for so long thinking it’s an unpopular opinion that’s not going to make me any friends, but I need to say it.
Lactation cookies are full of s***.
Okay, phew. That wasn’t so bad. Now that it’s off my chest, I must admit, that my delivery may have been a tad dramatic. But bottom line? The evidence for lactation cookies is just not there.
So, if you’re unfamiliar, a lactation cookie is a cookie that is supposed to make your milk supply increase when breastfeeding. AKA – MAGIC! Which is why the concept of lactation cookies is so popular. (I guarantee 99% of moms or soon-to-be moms that breastfeed, breastfed, or plan to breastfeed have heard the term.) They typically contain ingredients that many claim boost milk supply, like oats, flax seed, and brewer’s yeast.
The lactation cookie craze has reached such heights that there are full businesses revolving around them! Businesses that charge $4 or more per cookie or bar, because they know a worried mom desperate to feed her baby will gladly fork over the money for a chance of increasing her supply.
Real talk for a minute? I get it. I’m sure you can tell by now that lactation cookies are a hot button topic for me. But when despite exclusively breastfeeding, my menstrual cycle randomly came back at 3 months postpartum (yay me!) and my supply totally tanked, you better believe I was googling lactation cookie recipes with the best of them. Even though I KNOW lactation cookies don’t have enough science-backed evidence and I would never recommend them to a client. Even though as a trained Certified Lactation Counselor, I KNOW a drop in supply coinciding with a menstrual cycle is common and likely temporary (spoiler alert: it was). But when you’re a mom (likely sleep-deprived) who just wants to feed her baby, sometimes rationale goes out the window.
That said – are lactation cookies safe? Typically, yes! And there is a bunch of anecdotal evidence of women saying lactation cookies have helped their supply. Unfortunately, scientific research at this point just doesn’t back it up. Do you know what research does support, though? That the mind is a very powerful tool. Sometimes just the act of doing something that you think may help (like eating a lactation cookie) is what eases anxiety and relaxes moms. Plus, cookies can be comforting. That reduction in stress helps her more than anything.
I did want to note, too, that if you are breastfeeding and concerned about your supply, please talk to a lactation expert or your pediatrician’s office. Even if you’re currently pregnant and concerned about your future supply, reach out now! A lot of moms are concerned about their supply when in actuality, baby is getting exactly what they need. And if you have legitimate concerns about your supply, focus instead on the number one evidence-based rule to increase supply: supply and demand. The more you breastfeed (or hand express or pump), the more milk your body will produce.
So, bottom line: if you want a cookie, eat a cookie. If you want to specifically eat cookies labeled lactation cookies, help yourself. And if you legitimately need help with breastfeeding or milk supply, get help – but turn to someone with a little more experience than a cookie. 😉
One last thing before I step off my soap box. A note to my fellow dietitian friends (I hope we’re still friends!). I’ve seen many dietitians creating lactation cookie recipes lately. I’ve seen a lot of dietitians requesting lactation cookie recipes for their clients. I just want to challenge you, though, to be cautious. Our profession is one based on evidence. While a lactation cookie likely won’t hurt our clients, current research says it likely won’t help them either. If you are a dietitian that would hesitate to put a “weight loss shake” or “weight loss soup”recipe on your site, I would encourage you to use that same hesitation when it comes to “lactation cookies”.
Okay, I’m breathing easier now! 😉 If you’re still here and still reading, I still want to be friends! In fact, I made you cookies as a thank you. To be clear: THESE ARE NOT LACTATION COOKIES. They’re cookies that I made with ingredients I always have on hand and they’re super delicious, satisfying, soft and chewy, and not too sweet. 🙂 Thank you guys for taking the time to read my thoughts. Sound off in the comments – I’d love to hear your thoughts on lactation cookies, too!