I baked a batch of chocolate chip, oatmeal "lactation cookies" for my breastfeeding support group this week. The moms at the group thought that they were really good.
You can find the recipe on Epicurious if you'd like to try it out. The recommended "dose" is four cookies a day. Oh, how I wish someone would write me a prescription for cookies.
Before I talk about the ingredients in these cookies, I should say that these cookies would certainly not be among your first options for increasing supply. For a list of good ways to increase supply, see this page on kellymom.com, or Dr. Jack Newman's handout on milk supply.
So, what are those special ingredients? Oats, brewer's yeast, and flaxseed meal.
Oatmeal is a frequently recommended food for increasing milk supply, possibly because it contains iron and nursing mothers are often iron deficient. It's also a good source of fiber, and I'm told that if you ask a dairy farmer what they do to increase milk yield, they say that they increase fiber intake.
Brewer's yeast has long been recommended to increase milk supply, though there are some doubts that it does the trick. It does contain lots of B vitamins - another area where nursing mothers may be deficient. At a minimum it might give you a bit more energy. When eaten in large amounts it also might give your baby a "yeasty" smelling diaper, and I'm not sure if it's recommended for mothers who are struggling with thrush. The recipe said 'no substitutions' for this ingredient, but I couldn't find brewer's yeast in time, so used nutritional yeast instead.
Flaxseed oil (this recipe calls for flaxseed meal) is considered by some to be a galactagogue, but I had a hard time finding much on its effects. It does contain Omega-3 fatty acids, and many nursing mothers are deficient in that area because our stores are used in breastmilk. Omega 3s from fish oil are considered a promising therapy for preventing and treating postpartum depression (see the podcast I did on this topic), but the Omega 3s in flaxseed oil are a different form and are not viewed as effective for this purpose.
For more on lactogenic foods, check out this great page on the MOBI Motherhood website!