Can a breast milk cookie change your life? Or are they just a yummy treat? (Image: iStock.)
It’s a home remedy, often in the form of a cookie, cake or smoothie, which contains ingredients that allegedly boost breast milk production. So, is the lactation recipe fact or fiction? We took it to the experts.
Is it true that certain foods or ingredients can boost breast milk supply?
According to Rachel Fuller, President of the Australian Breastfeeding Association, there’s a lack of science behind so-called lactation recipes.
“Many cultures have special foods that are thought to enhance milk production. However, they have not been formally studied and there is little scientific evidence to support that eating specific foods will boost milk supply,” she explained.
“What we do know for sure about breastfeeding is that supply equals demand. In other words, feeding baby more often (or expressing more often) is the key to increasing breast milk supply.”
Medical expert Doctor Dee Chohan, dismisses the notion of lactation recipes completely. “This ‘lactation food’ is a myth,” she declares.
“Breast milk supply is controlled by the amount of milk the baby takes in. An emptier breast will produce more milk and different hormones control this efficiently.”
Why does the myth of “lactation recipes” exist?
Larissa McBride, clinical nutritionist and naturopath, believes that it’s only natural that mothers should want to feed their babies. “Lactation recipes appeal to a mother’s innate desire to feed her baby, as well as her desire to use natural means to ensure adequate supply,” she suggests.
Another argument is that those who perpetuate the myth of lactation recipes just don’t have a good grip on science.
“They have not studied Biology and don’t understand how breast tissue produces milk,” quips Doctor Dee.
Well, if lactation recipes don't work, then what can I do to increase my breast milk supply?
Feed, feed and feed again is what Fuller recommends for an increased supply of breast milk. Just remember, it's all about increasing the feeds for your own baby - there's no set number or hours of feeds to stick to.
“The quickest and most successful way to boost breast milk supply is to breastfeed more often. Offer a breastfeed every two to three hours during the day, for a few days, or increase the number of feeds by offering the breast in between baby's usual breastfeeds. You will need to fit in more feeds than is usual for your baby. Feeds do not need to be very long, just more often,” instructs Fuller. (Post continues after gallery.)
Just like those popular cafe posters, McBride says we should Keep Calm And Carry On. “Ensure adequate sleep and rest – nap when the infant is napping. Stress interferes with hormonal production."
And don't forget to stay hydrated - McBride recommends drinking two to three litres of purified water per day.
It's very important not to beat yourself up if you're struggling with breast feeding or milk production.
“Try to relax and ask your midwife to ensure the baby is latching on properly. Breastfeeding can be hard and some mothers may not be able to breastfeed. Then, it's important to see your GP or midwife and switch to formula.”
When to seek professional help.
Finally, remember that if your milk supply is truly diminishing it's time to get some medical attention. McBride says:
"A mother already experiencing slow supply requires swift attention. A hungry baby is not something to go slow with. Look for the warning signs, such as dry-ish nappies, infrequent stools, lack of weight gain, and contact a lactation consultant.”
Have you ever tried a lactation recipe? What do you think: is it fact or fiction?