(Updated June 2018: The website the original recipe was on is no longer active, but I’ve adapted the galactagogue brownies recipe and you can find it here.)
A few weeks ago, I discovered the Sarah’s More Milk Please cookbook on twitter. I was really interested in it because the recipes in her book use ingredients that may increase milk supply in breastfeeding moms. I’ve tried eating oatmeal and drinking Guinness for this before, and personally, I don’t care for either. On her website, she has an amazing-looking recipe for galactogogue brownies that I wanted to try, and I figured they would definitely be better than oatmeal!
(Galactogogue brownies: like “special” brownies except that the secret ingredients are intended to make you more breast milk instead of making you high.)
The galactogogues used in the brownies recipe are oatmeal, flax seed, and brewer’s yeast. I still had oatmeal on hand from my oatmeal/milk supply experiment, but I needed to buy the other two. Flax seed is fairly easy to come by at most grocery stores, but I’ve only seen brewer’s yeast at Whole Foods. In any case, I decided to take the easy way out and just have them delivered to my house from amazon.
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This is the brewer’s yeast that I got and this is the flax seed – I got the cheapest and smallest volume that I could find of both. I started making the brownies one afternoon right after I put the kids down for their naps.
I got as far as grinding the flax seed and putting it in some water to soak when I heard shrieks from upstairs. So I acquired a helper.
(Brewer’s yeast is apparently hilarious to the 1-year-old set.)
I occupied my daughter with a cup of milk (and, of course, an 18oz tub of brewer’s yeast) while I mixed together the ingredients. The recipe is pretty straightforward. The only thing I wasn’t sure about is whether I was supposed to drain the flax seed from the water before adding it to the mixture, but by the time I got around to mixing it in, it had all absorbed anyway. I’ll also say that when I put in the brewer’s yeast, there was a bit of a pungent smell, but it goes away quickly and is not detectable at all in the final product.
After I had the mixture all ready to go, I realized that the recipe calls for a 9×13 pan. The problem with my 9×13 pan is that it does not exist, so I used an 8×11 pan instead. This made me a little unsure of exactly how long to cook the chocolate deliciousness.
The recipe says to bake it for 20-23 minutes. I kept checking it, didn’t think it was done, and wasn’t sure how long to leave it in there with the different size pan. In the end, I left it in there for 27 minutes, and while I initially thought that I undercooked it, once it had cooled, I realized that it was perfect.
This. Was. Delicious. My helper agreed. Is it weird that I let my breastfed baby try galactagogue brownies? It feels like an unnatural break in the order of things, like she could start lactating and then … she could nurse herself? If she were really flexible? But then I realized I wouldn’t be worried that she was going to start lactating if I gave her a big bowl of oatmeal to eat, and I got over it.
My husband also loved these. I did not mention to him that they were galactagogue brownies.
In terms of the effect on my breast milk, I noticed a slight uptick in supply, similar to what happened when I tried eating oatmeal for breakfast for a week. The difference is that I actually wanted to eat the brownies!
Long story short – these are delicious. If you are looking to increase your milk supply, I highly recommend trying them out. And even if not, if you happen to have brewer’s yeast and flax seed on hand, these are so good and easy to make. (You can take them to a party and tell everyone they are “special” brownies.)
I reached out to Sarah and asked her some questions about the brownies.
My husband ate the galactogogue brownies I made. Should I be concerned that he’s going to start lactating?
Unfortunately for him, no. Galactagogues do have some amazing abilities for improving milk production but its only works if you are already lactating. So your husband won’t start lactating but you probably still won’t be able to keep him out of the brownies!
You mention in your book that you ran into supply problems when you went back to work and had to start pumping. How much of a supply increase would you attribute to the galactogogues in these recipes?
Of course every mom is different but this was my experience. I was pumping twice a day at work and getting a total of 2-3 ounces during the whole work day. I tried drinking extra water, pumping extra, no caffeine, relaxing music but nothing helped much. Then I started using galactagogues and I could pump sometimes up to 6-8 ounces a work day.
Your recipes feature oatmeal, brewer’s yeast, and flax seed as the ingredients that increase milk supply. Do you know why they work, or is it kind of a mystery?
It does seems to be a bit of mystery although women all of the word have been using galactagogues for centuries to increase milk supply. Science hasn’t been able to fully prove why they work or why they shouldn’t work either. The general idea I have come across is they help because of all the animo acids, iron, vitamin B, fiber and protein. For me it is a “proof is in the pudding” kind of thing. (There really is a pudding recipe in the cookbook, its butterscotch!)
Obviously the results that women will have with galactogogues will vary, but in general, what should a breastfeeding mom expect when trying one of these recipes for the first time?
Eating a couple portions a day will help (brownies 3x a day, um, twist my arm) although sometime it may take up to three days to see results. Also galactagogues are like super heroes; the more of them you combine together, the more powerful they are. A recipe with flax seed, brewers yeast and oats is going to be more powerful then one with just brewers yeast alone.