I must start off by saying that most women make plenty of milk for their babies without having to pay any attention to their diet or using herbs or other supplements. However, the truth is, many moms are looking for ways to boost their milk production due to having stressful, busy lives that require them to eat for convenience or be separated from their babies. As a mom, I’ve personally faced these obstacles and looked for natural ways to make more milk.
Galactagogue, from the Greek words for “milk” and “leading,” is the term for something that increases breastmilk production. The Wise Woman Herbal, by Susun S. Weed, suggests many foods and herbs that can be used as galactagogues. Many of these herbs are found in the Traditional Medicinal’s blend called “Mother’s Milk.” Unfortunately, many women do not like the taste of black licorice, which comes from the addition of fennel and anise. One alternative is to create single herb infusions of Red Raspberry Leaf, Nettles, Alfalfa or Red Clover. According to Weed, you can “Rotate, using each one for a week, to derive the unique benefits that each offers” (85).
Ultimately, though, there is no substitute for good nutrition. Healthy fats, whole grains and lots of leafy greens help women with postpartum healing and lactation. Adding fennel seeds to your granola and making your greens with Indian curry, which contains Fenugreek, a well-known galactagogue, are easy ways to “eat your medicine” naturally.
Which brings me to my favorite – galactacookies (named by my friend, Amber, who thought “lactation cookies” would contain breastmilk). Everyone has their own favorite recipe, but nearly all of them contain a few main ingredients: brewer’s or nutritional yeast, wheat germ, flax seed meal and whole (not instant) oats. My recipe is based on my mom’s 10-Cup-Cookie recipe, which is like a meal in a cookie. Feel free to decrease the sugar based on your own taste-buds.
1 c. butter
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. flour (I use a mix of unbleached and whole wheat flour, adding flax seed meal, wheat germ and nutritional yeast to make a cup)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. oatmeal
1 c. coconut
1 c. raisins
1 c. chocolate (I buy the super dark bars and cut them in pieces)
1 c. nuts (I use walnuts)
With an electric or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Add egg and mix well. Beat in peanut butter. In a separate bowl, mix flour mixture, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients to wet. By hand, stir in remaining ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes at 350° F. Let them cool a bit on the pan before transferring to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.
I encourage you to make your own cookies or get someone to make them for you, but I am also happy to bake some special order. I sell them for $3 for 2 or a baker’s dozen for $15. The cottage food law requires me to sell them in person, so no mail or internet orders allowed. They also make a great gift to bring to a postpartum friend! I also supply organic herbs to my birth and postpartum doula clients as a part of my fee and am happy to provide them to women in my area at a reasonable cost.