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Mother of all cookies: Here’s why lactation cookies are the perfect snack for a nursing mom

Move over methi ka ladoo and dalia, lactation cookies — the new-age galactagogue — is finding popularity with new mothers.

more lifestyle Updated: Oct 11, 2017 08:34 IST
Meenakshi Iyer
Lactation cookies by Sweetish House Mafia.
Lactation cookies by Sweetish House Mafia.

When banker-turned-baker Neha Arya Sethi’s friends were pregnant, they requested her to make lactation cookies for them. Sethi, who was already a popular name in the cookie world for her delicious and chunky treats under the brand Sweetish House Mafia, had heard of these cookies from friends abroad.

“My friends were tired of eating methi ka ladoos (a staple for new mums) made by their mothers and mothers-in-law and wanted to try something new. When I was pregnant four years ago, I remember taking satavari (asparagus) powder to induce lactation,” says Sethi. With lots of research and trial-and-error, Sethi managed to whip up chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies that help new mothers increase their milk supply.

Cookies by Sweetish House Mafia.

In India, it is almost mandatory for moms-to-be and new mothers to eat methi ka ladoo, for at least 40 days after giving birth. Made of fenugreek seeds, jaggery and nuts such as almonds, walnuts and dates, these sweets are not just nutritious (to help mothers keep up with new responsibilities) but also help mothers accomplish an important aspect of motherhood – lactation. Known as galactagogues, methi (fenugreek) and dates help increase milk supply.

While Indians rely on Ayurveda for their knowledge of galactagogues, in the western world, research shows that ingredients such as oats, flax seeds and brewers’ yeast are excellent options to help stimulate and establish lactation. Thus, cookies made with these lactation powerhouse ingredients are hugely popular there.

For Alia Sojwal, who’s a mother to a nine-month-old baby, these lactation cookies helped a lot; in fact she ended up with an oversupply. “I asked my friend (who’s a baker) to make these for me. I’ve lived abroad for a large part of my life, so I was familiar with the concept. Plus, the many baby and pregnancy forums that I am a part of recommend these,” she says.

In India, too, bakers are experimenting with galactagogues to come up with tasty and healthy options for new mothers. For instance, Chennai-based Mamacookies00 sells cookies in flavours such as Nutella, almond, chocolate chips, dark chocolate orange and vanilla cinnamon, among others. Mumbai-based baker Tania Behl offers cookies with nuts, chocolate chips and cranberries.

It is a universal fact that the best way to help lactation is to put the baby to breast as often as possible. However, new mums are often recommended a strict diet that is rich in good fats (nuts, desi ghee, coconut) and contains other galactagogues like garlic and asparagus.

A new mum’s diet is garlic-heavy as it also helps them digest the food better. (Shutterstock)

Here are 10 galactagogues that help increase milk supply:

Fenugreek: Right from leaves, stalk to dried seeds, fenugreek has proven to be really beneficial in helping lactation.

Garlic: A new mum’s diet is garlic-heavy as it also helps them digest the food better.

Asparagus/Satavari: This can be consumed fresh or as granules that are easily available in medicine stores. The granules can be consumed mixed with warm milk.

Oatmeal: Mix it with water or have in the form of cookies. This is an excellent source of nutrition.

Nuts: Almonds and cashews can be consumed as is, roasted or turned into powder to be mixed with milk.

Barley: Wash and soak ¼ cup of barley overnight, pressure cook it the next day and filter the drink. You can sip it through the day.

Moringa: These have been clinically proven to increase production of breast milk. The leaves can be dried and powdered to be added to smoothies and oats, among other things.

Quinoa: It is a rich source of protein and easy to cook. Just add hot water and let it rest.

Cumin and fennel: A few teaspoons of cumin and fennel can be added to food regularly.

Flax seeds: You can sprinkle these on smoothies and shakes or just roast and eat.

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