While breastfeeding can be a beautiful, rewarding experience between mama and baby, there's no denying that it's also hard work. Actually, hard work might be an understatement. And while I'm a firm believer that there is no wrong time to "treat yo'self," I personally think treats are particularly deserved when you're breastfeeding. (At least, what's what I tell myself as I peruse the Whole Foods bakery section.) Those sweets taste even better when you know they're benefitting your little one, and these seven pastries are actually good for breastfeeding, so snack away. You're doing it for the baby!
The key to these pastries is their galactagogic properties. A galactagogue, according to Kelly Mom, is "substance that increases milk supply." However, the benefits of these treats can actually be attributed to reasons beyond their specific ingredients. Lactation cookies, for example, are widely used to increase milk supply, but it may simply be the experience of eating the cookies that helps. "Carbs do help increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps us feel happy," Danielle Downs Spradlin, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, tells Romper. "It's probably not the cookie ingredients but the whole picture of getting extra calories and reduced stress that's helping mom collect more milk." So, while eating galactagogues certainly won't hurt, they may not be the sole cause of an uptick in milk.
If you're stressing about milk supply, it's important that you don't rely solely on dietary changes to build it up. "Some parents won't make enough milk because they are not stimulating the breasts frequently by nursing or expressing," Spradlin tells Romper. "The first step is always the same: feed the baby." Personally? I'm a fan of eating dessert while nursing, though my daughter is often covered in crumbs by the end. And while these pastries aren't guaranteed milk boosters, they can certainly help the cause if they have the proper ingredients... and they typically do. So whether you're worried your supply isn't satisfying your baby or you simply want a dessert with an added benefit, you can't go wrong with one of the items below.
1. Carrot Cake
I'm a firm believer that a slice of carrot cake counts as a serving of veggies, and you've gotta eat your veggies when you're breastfeeding. "The beta carotene in these red and orange vegetables is important to the production of breast milk," explains Healthline. The benefits go beyond milk production, too. "Yams, beets, and carrots have the added benefit of supplying iron and minerals."
2. Oatmeal Cookies
Oatmeal cookies are a baked good staple, and they're the perfect treat for breastfeeding mamas in a few different ways. Oats contain saponins, plant estrogens, and beta-glucan, which can all have positive impacts on the hormones relating to lactation or the milk glands themselves, according to Verywell Family. Throw in some chopped nuts of your choice to get some additional protein and calcium, as per The Bump.
3. Almond Croissants
A handful of raw nuts is a healthy and filling snack option, but probably won't cut it when you're seeking something sweet. Grab an almond croissant topped with sliced almonds, and you can satisfy your craving while helping to up your milk. "Nuts contain tryptophan, which converts to serotonin, a natural mood stabilizer that helps you manage stress, sleep better (when you can!), and boost prolactin," Helen Anderson, RN, MSN, and lactation expert, tells MSN.
4. Ginger Cookies
Hopefully you aren't sick of ginger after using it to settle that first trimester nausea. As it turns out, this spice can be a useful tool for establishing a good milk supply right after delivering your little one. A 2016 study in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine found that, "Ginger is a promising natural galactagogue to improve breast milk volume in the immediate postpartum period without any notable side effect." Nearing your due date? Buy or whip up a batch of ginger cookies to have on hand at the hospital or upon your arrival home.
5. Flaxseed Muffins
Flax seeds are often touted as a "super food," and they might just be even more super for breastfeeding moms. Flaxseed muffins are not only yummy, but they may be able to benefit your milk supply. "Flax seeds have estrogenic properties that can help nursing moms make more milk," explained Anita Mirchandani, a registered dietician, for Motherly. Top yours with a little butter or fruit jelly, if you're feelin' wild.
6. Blueberry & Oat Scones
There's no shortage of ways to use oats in dessert, so take advantage. If oatmeal cookies aren't your thing, perhaps berry and oat scones will hit the spot. Aside from the nutritional benefits of oats, simply the act of eating the comfort food may be beneficial for breastfeeding. "It’s thought that eating something associated with comfort may cause a woman’s body to release oxytocin, a hormone involved in the production of milk," stated Healthline. The blueberries will add vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates to keep your energy up, according to WebMD – and energy is something new mothers definitely need.
7. Sesame Seed Balls
If you're a fan of Chinese cuisine, you may be familiar with jian dui, or sesame seed balls. This dessert consists of fried sesame seed balls filled with red bean paste, and though you won't be able to find them at your typical bakery, they're worth the hunt. "High in calcium and estrogen-like plant properties, breastfeeding mothers use sesame seeds to make more breast milk," explained Verywell Family.