There are all kinds of new and old ways for nursing mothers to boost breast milk supply. I laughed out loud when I saw the advertisement for lactation cookies, but who knows? Maybe they really do work. What I do know is that many mothers struggle with increasing milk production. Experts agree nursing mothers need an extra 500 calories a day, and some of the new options may provide more than just added energy.

Lactation Cookies

An entrepreneurial Seattle mom has created a cookie to help breastfeeding mothers increase their milk supply. Milkmakers cookies combine milk-producing agents like brewer’s yeast and ground flax seed to stimulate the production of milk flow. The cookies are said to aid mothers wanting to continue nursing while working. The key ingredient for weary nursing moms: chocolate chips.

Prefer to bake your own? Epicurious.com has a recipe for lactation cookies that looks similar to the commercial brand.

Nursing Drinks

A new bottled drink called the Mamatini is designed to meet the needs of breastfeeding women with vital nutrients such as vitamin A and C. It’s also got fenugreek, which is supposed to up milk production. The makers threw in chamomile and ginger for their calming effects. (I wonder if that transfers to a fussy baby.)

If you are interested in brewing your own milk-making teas and concoctions, Baby Center has a nice collection of recipes for beverages for breastfeeding moms. Some of the tamer examples are fennel tea and basil water.

Common Sense Breast Milk Production

If the idea of a magical food or elixir to increase the production of milk supply sounds just a little too easy to be true, it probably is. The La Leche League doesn't advocate any special foods or drinks other than staying hydrated — and water does a great job of that. Rather than focus on a specific food or drink, their recommendations for boosting milk supply include the following:

  • Encourage your baby to breastfeed frequently and for as long as he will.
  • Offer both breasts at each feeding.
  • Let the baby should end the feeding.
  • Be sure baby is latched on and positioned correctly at the breast.
  • Limit or stop pacifier use while encouraging baby to nurse more effectively.

It’s also extremely important to take good care of your breasts while nursing. Painful or injured breasts are not going to enhance the experience for mother or baby, and may decrease milk supply.

Although the La Leche people will vehemently disagree, I also believe that every mother knows when it is time to stop breastfeeding. There is no shame in providing a good formula when nursing becomes unmanageable.

Despite the rational advice, we all have our favorite “old wives' tales” for increasing milk production. What’s yours?