August 1st marks the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week, being a Mum who has Breastfed 3 babies and currently still feeding my 17 month old, this is an annual Campaign I am very passionate about. I’ve teamed up with Yummy Mummy Food Co to provide some important information to ensure the lactation snacks you choose are nutritious and not just another overpriced cookie. Earlier in this current Breastfeeding journey I had supply issues and Yummy Mummy Food Co were my go to, to boost my supply, within 24 hours devouring their cookies (sooo very moreish) along with pumping and on demand feeding, I not only had a huge boost in supply but I was storing excess milk in the Freezer.
World Breastfeeding week is an annual campaign aimed at normalizing, promoting and supporting breastfeeding woman worldwide and holding tight the notion of lifelong good health for babies and mothers.
The hard work from many Breastfeeding organizations promoting the guidelines set by World Health Organisation (WHO), has helped improve breastfeeding rates worldwide. Did you know that research shows that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, followed by continued breastfeeding with the addition of appropriate complementary foods up to the age of two years and beyond reduces child mortality and provides health benefits well into adulthood? Interesting isn’t it?
Regardless of the continuing promotion by these Organizatons of the standards being set for mother’s to aim for, there’s absolutely no way a new parent can prepare for the many issues involved in establishing a successful breastfeeding relationship and so, many new mothers really struggle during this time for a whole range of reasons, some being supply issues, attachment and the like.
Over the past years there has been an explosion in the market for breastfeeding related products – everything from breast pumps, breast massage devices, feeding cushions and chairs and especially in recent years food related products like lactation cookies & teas.
In the case of non-food products like pumps and chairs, these are products who’s benefits can be actively seen, tested out and experienced. However in the case of food related products, it’s easy to be fooled by marketing and in the case of lactation cookies, there are many being produced that tout the name ‘Lactation Cookie’, but while they may contain some galactogogue (milk boosting) ingredients, they aren’t necessarily being designed with the overall health of both mother and baby in mind, using the most natural and unrefined ingredients as possible to support healthy nutrition during this most crucial time of life.
Let’s face it, there’s nothing more important than the health of a new mother and her baby and breastfeeding and looking after a new baby is an especially trying time physically, so it’s really easy to reach for foods like chocolate for those quick energy fixes OR a lactation cookie that’s perceived as being healthy, when in fact it could be ladened with refined sugar and other unhealthy ingredients that can hinder overall health and wellbeing or even potentially cause other issues for both mums and babies like candida.
So What Makes a Healthy Lactation Cookie?
When buying lactation cookies it’s important to ensure their main ingredients consist predominantly of “milk making” ingredients like these below, which also have the following other health benefits too, otherwise you really are just eating a regular but overpriced cookie!
Oats are full of dietary fibre which is a wonderful ingredient for breastfeeding and pregnant mothers as they help relieve constipation. They are a great source of essential vitamins such as thiamine, folic acid, biotin and vitamin e. They also have a low glycemic index and help provide longer lasting energy and what new mother doesn’t need that?
Aka flaxseeds contain omega 3 essential fatty acids which can help prevent excess biochemicals that the body produces under stress, making them great for busy parents.
Back even as recently as 2012 the use of coconut oil was met with some disdain from food scientists, but further research has since proven that it has a wide range of health benefits and if included in a lactation cookie is an ingredient that can help keep it dairy free.
It’s also a medium chain fatty acid containing lauric acid. Mothers milk also contains lauric acid so how great is that for a lactation cookie to also contain it?
Coconut oil is also known for its antifungal, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties. It’s also great for your skin and hair. Supermodel Miranda Kerr says she eats 3 teaspoons every day to help maintain her glow!
Buckwheat flour is high in lysine, b vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper. It’s also high in fibre and it contains the right essential amino acids. Best of all it’s wheat free.
Fennel and fenugreek
Both of these have been used for centuries in many cultures as a galactagogue aid. In India a tea of fenugreek is made for new mothers to drink every morning to assist with milk production.
Other Ingredients to be Wary of in a Lactation Cookie
The importance of Ensuring ‘Clean Eating’ & Organic Ingredients
It is also important when choosing lactation snacks that they are as wheat, dairy, refined sugar and preservative free as possible, as both mums and babies alike often have delicate digestive systems and these ingredients are known triggers that create imbalances in the body.
All too often these types of lactation snacks will also contain chocolate or choc chips, it’s also important to ensure these are organic and don’t list emulsifiers or E551 in particular which is a often notoriously hidden anti-caking agent. Anti-caking agents are small chemicals that absorb moisture and prevent other compounds from sticking together. They’re often added to table salt and other common powdered food products and they contain phosphate, carbonate, silicate or oxide compounds, plus they can often contain aluminum, such as sodium alumino-silicate, alumino-calcium silicate and aluminium silicate. It’s well known and documented how toxic aluminium can be to the body, and high levels can cause damage to the kidneys, muscles, digestive system and bones. High levels of aluminum exposure may also be linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
The scary thing is though that because anti-caking agents are an ingredient IN choc chips, when these are used as an ingredient to make up another product, you’ll probably never actually see them included on the ingredients list so you’re best bet at avoiding them is to ensure ingredients like chocolate are organic and say so on ingredient labels!
All too often lactation cookies contain brewer’s yeast as the main active milk boosting ingredient, which it can help with, however new mums and babies in particular are susceptible to yeast overgrowth thanks to the massive hormonal changes going at this time of life and there’s even higher risk if a mother has cracked nipples from breastfeeding or their baby was delivered by C-Section (with a dose of antibiotics).
Coupled with the fact too that more than 70% of pregnant women suffer a yeast infection at some point during their pregnancy (often occurring in the second or third trimester), means that many women are not starting out the road to motherhood with the yeast balance in check and definitely don’t need any further ‘yeasty problems’ to deal with at this time without adding to it in food at the same time.
Let’s face it, parenting IS hard work, you do deserve to let yourself have some treats, but this World Breastfeeding Week, let’s take some time to make sure we’re providing mother’s and babies with as nutritious an option as possible when it comes to lactation snacks, as this can only further help breastfeeding success rates long term too.
By Jesse Wilson & Kelly Northey
Jesse Wilson is the founder and creator of the New Zealand made Totally Devoted Range food products including Lactation Cookies and Tea amongst other functional food products for the whole family. Using her extensive experience as a chef, combined with her life-long interest in natural health and nutrition, Jesse has been providing families with nutritious food with benefits since 2012.
Kelly Northey is the founder of the Yummy Mummy Food Company, distributing the Totally Devoted range Australia-wide, helping mums and mums-to-be reduce morning sickness symptoms or increase their milk supply.