Chocolate chip cookies, plus a lot of ingredients that supposedly promote lactation in women who have just given birth, but anyone can eat them because really who is going to resist chocolate chip cookies?
Once you dip a toe into the mommy internet, it’s not long before that becomes a deep dive. I spend a bit of time most days skimming Pinterest, my pregnancy app (Ovia), aggregate parenting advice blogs (twiniversity and what to expect), and healthcare organizations (American College of Gynecology and Obstetrics, the Mayo Clinic, and whatever clinical studies show up in pubmed when I google a given question). I like this combination of things because it exposes me to a wide range of advice from people of various levels of experience and authority, which allows me to balance industry medical standards with community wisdom and creative ideas. I also check anything I actually plan on following through on with my doctor, so nothing is too far out there. I find that even for the most out-there sounding ideas, there’s about 20 different sources repeating it. And one thing I’ve seen again and again since I first became pregnant is lactation cookies.
There’s this anxiety among new moms that our bodies will fail us and we won’t produce enough milk to feed our babies. This anxiety is heightened for moms of multiples (unhelpfully abbreviated to MOMs), because we have more babies but still just one body. When I took a breastfeeding class (which I would definitely recommend doing), and then again when I took a birthing class led by a labor and delivery nurse who is also a lactation consultant, and then again when I talked to a full-time lactation consultant, I found out that this anxiety is largely unfounded. Except in extremely rare cases, women who have just given birth produce enough milk to feed their children because supply matches demand – so the more often you have milk expressed, the more the body knows to produce. According to these experts, problems with supply are typically caused by a poor latch – babies not connecting fully and not drawing out as much milk as they are sucking.
So why am I wasting any effort making lactation cookies? Because even with that constant asking, I can still give my body some help by encouraging it along. It seems like there is some evidence to suggest that there are a few “health food” ingredients that promote lactation, but as with any herbal, holistic, or “traditional” medicine there are few clinical trials that actually support those claims because such trials are typically funded by manufacturers (i.e. pharmaceutical companies) and most makers of these ingredients aren’t big enough to fund those trials. The main ingredient that shows up in lactation cookies is brewer’s yeast – doctors will occasionally recommend that nursing women drink a yeasty beer like Guinness for the same reason. They also include some combination of more common foods like oats, flax seeds, and walnuts. You can buy cookies and granola bars with these ingredients in them but it’s way cheaper to make them yourself. Honestly, one of the biggest selling points for me is that lactating (nursing or pumping) takes a tremendous number of extra calories and I already have a hard time eating enough, so having a mildly healthy cookie (yes, an oxymoron) to snack on sounds pretty helpful.
Loaded Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies
Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies.
In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients:
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
3 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/4 cup brewer’s yeast
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
In a separate bowl, cream together the wet ingredients using an electric mixer or stand mixer. Starting with:
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted softened butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Once the butter and sugar are soft, fluffy, and smooth, add 2 eggs, one at a time.
Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet, in about 3 batches, fully hydrating the dry ingredients before adding the next batch.
Split the dough into 2 batches and set them in plastic wrap or parchment paper, massaging the dough out through the paper to create logs about 1 1/2″ in diameter. Let sit in the fridge at least 8 hours before baking or transferring to the freezer. When baking, slice into 1/2″ rounds.
Bake at 375* for 9-11 minutes, and move to a wire rack to cool.