Lactation Cookies & Milk Supply

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Do you need to eat lactation cookies?

Before searching Pinterest or heading to the store for lactation cookies, you should determine if you have enough milk already.  Often, mothers think that their milk supply is low when it really isn’t.  The feel of the breast, the behavior of your baby, the frequency of nursing, the sensation of let-down, or the amount you pump are not valid ways to determine if you have enough milk for your baby.

If your baby is gaining weight well on breastmilk alone, then you do not have a problem with milk supply.  Make sure your healthcare prover is using the WHO growth chart for tracking weight gain.  If you’re not quite sure about baby’s current weight gain (perhaps baby hasn’t had a weight check lately), then make sure baby is having an adequate number of wet and dirty diapers.  You can always call La Leche League Leader to help determine if your baby is getting enough milk.  

What if your supply really is low?

If you feel that your milk supply is truly low, then it will be very helpful to get in touch with a LLL Leader and/or a Certified Lactation Counselor for one-on-one help for your particular situation.  Generally, the best way to increase your milk supply is to remove milk from the breast.  This removal is what signals the body to make more milk.  The following methods for increasing milk supply are usually sufficient for most mothers:

  • Encourage your baby to breastfeed frequently and for as long as he will.

  • Offer both breasts at each feeding. Allow baby to stay at the first breast as long as he is actively sucking and swallowing. Offer the second breast when baby slows down or stops. "Finish the first breast first," is a good general rule. (This technique gives baby lots of the fatty "hindmilk.")

  • Baby should end the feeding. He may do this by falling asleep and detaching from the breast after about 10 to 30 minutes of active sucking and swallowing.

  • Be sure baby is latched on and positioned correctly at the breast, that is, lips should be on the areola (the darker skin area), well behind the nipple. An LLL Leader can help fine-tune positioning as well as suggest ideas to ease soreness. Breastfeeding isn't supposed to hurt.

  • A sleepy baby may benefit from "switch nursing" that is, switching breasts two or three times during each feeding. Switch breasts when baby's sucking slows down and he swallows less often.

  • All of baby's sucking should be at the breast. Limit or stop pacifier use while encouraging baby to nurse more effectively. If you are supplementing, even temporarily, you can give the supplement by spoon, cup, or with a nursing supplementer. Contact an LLL Leader for assistance in using these.

This may be a stressful time. Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own need for rest, relaxation, proper diet, and enough fluids.

So, what about the cookies?

A substance that increases milk supply is called a galactagogue. Some of the most commonly used herbal galactagogues are fenugreek, blessed thistle, and alfalfa.  Lactation cookies usually contain oatmeal which is said to increase milk supply.  Following are examples of situations when galactagogue use may be useful:

  • Some working mothers use herbs to increase their pumping output, even though their supply is fine when baby nurses.

  • Some mothers with a genuinely low milk supply use galactagogues in combination with increased nursing/pumping to increase supply.

  • Adoptive moms may use galactagogues to increase the amount of milk they are able to provide for their babies.

If the usual methods have not proven sufficient and you feel that a galactagogue is needed, keep these things in mind:

  • Remember that any galactagogue will be most effective in increasing milk supply when combined with increased breastfeeding frequency and milk removal.

  • Some types of galactagogues work better in particular situations and not in others. You should be working with someone who is knowledgable in their use.

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Flourish Baby is committed to diversity and inclusion. Amanda Dean supports all birthing, breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and human milk feeding families, inclusive of their race, ethnicity, immigration status, national origin, creed, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, family structure, primary language, ability, or socio-economic status.

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