Nutrition and breastmilk supply plus a tasty lactation cookie recipe
Worrying about low milk supply is a common concern for new breastfeeding parents. You may have read lots of information about different foods that help increase breastmilk supply and are wondering if they really work. In today’s blog post, we are reviewing the evidence for some common foods that are promoted to increase breast milk supply. We will also provide some general nutrition tips to keep in mind while breastfeeding.on increasing your milk supply.
There are many factors that impact milk production including how often you feed your baby, if your baby is emptying your breast, proper latching, and so many more. Lactation consultants, your doula, and local public health units are great resources for breastfeeding support. Getting support from a healthcare provider should be your first step if you have concerns about breastfeeding.
Nutrition and Breastfeeding:
It is recommended that people who are breastfeeding follow a healthy diet that is in line with Canada’s Food Guide. People who are breastfeeding also need an extra 350-400 calories per day, which is a sandwich and an apple for example or a banana with 1 tbsp of peanut butter and ¾ cup Greek yogurt.
Fluid and hydration needs are greater while breastfeeding at about 12-13 cups per day. There is not enough evidence to suggest that increasing fluid further or beyond what is needed to satisfy thirst, helps increase milk supply(1). Water, juice, soup, milk, tea, and coffee all count towards fluid needs however you may want to be mindful of caffeine intake. It is recommended to have less than 300mg of caffeine while breastfeeding, which is about 2 cups of coffee (8oz cups). While fluid intake has not been shown to relate to milk supply, not drinking enough can have other consequences related to dehydration, such as constipation, headaches, and low mood. If you are exercising outdoors in the heat, additional fluids are likely needed. I always recommend a glass of water each time you nurse your baby. Keep a water bottle by your usual breastfeeding spot as well as a reminder to drink.
It is recommended to continue to take a multivitamin containing folic acid while breastfeeding. Speak to your doctor or a dietitian about which supplement is right for you (they may recommend a regular multivitamin or continued prenatal multivitamin or something more specific for your needs).
Galactagogues are foods, herbs, and/or medications that increase breast milk supply. Some of the common ones you may have heard of include oats and brewers yeast and these are commonly found in lactation cookie recipes. While anecdotally you may have heard moms talk about how helpful some of these have been, there is actually very little evidence that any of these work.
Many people say that adding more oats to their diet helped increase their milk supply. The thought behind this is that oats are high in iron and low iron can cause a low milk supply (2). Oats are healthy food and make a nutritious breakfast so they are worth adding to your diet.
Brewer’s yeast is used in making bread, beer and sold as a nutrition supplement. It is one of the most popular supplements for increasing milk supply and many people swear that it helped them. Brewer’s yeast is rich in B vitamins, selenium, and chromium. B vitamins are important for our mood and our mood can also impact breastmilk production. Mood regulation is one thought on how brewers’ yeast may impact milk supply (3) Despite its popularity, there is not much evidence that it works and not a lot of information about its safety. There are no recommendations on a safe dose of brewer’s yeast during lactation and there are a few particular safety concerns and precautions to be aware of(3):
-It may aggravate inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease
-Avoid if you are on antidepressants as it can cause high blood pressure.
-Avoid if you have diabetes as it can cause low blood sugar
-There are a few other reports of side effects including GI upset and nausea, constipation, and
one article also cited a skin rash (3)
Before trying brewer’s yeast or any nutrition supplement, you should check with your doctor
What about lactation cookies?
Lactation cookies are popular and like the recipe below, tend to combine oats, brewers yeast, and other nutrient-rich ingredients like flaxseeds to help increase milk supply. While evidence may not support that these will actually help, They may be worth a try and make for a tasty treat with some nourishing ingredients.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies
½ cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp ground flax
2 tbsp brewer’s yeast
1 cup all-purpose flour
1.5 cups rolled oats
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and both sugars using a mixer or by hand with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix again. Then add the eggs and mix well.
3. Add all the dry ingredients, except the chocolate chips and mix until combined. You may need to switch to a spoon to combine them as the batter becomes thicker. Add the chocolate chips and mix.
4. Using two spoons or a small cookie scoop, scoop dough into balls and place on a parchment-lined baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown on the butter.
Yield: ~30 cookies
1. Nutrition for Lactation (albertahealthservices.ca) March 2018, revised September 2022.
2. Iron and Breastfeeding | La Leche League Canada – Breastfeeding Support and Information
3. Jia LL, Brough L, Weber JL. Saccharomyces cerevisiae Yeast-Based
Supplementation as a Galactagogue in Breastfeeding Women? A Review of Evidence
from Animal and Human Studies. Nutrients. 2021 Feb 25;13(3):727. doi:
10.3390/nu13030727. PMID: 33668808; PMCID: PMC7996189.