From birthdays and summer nights to break ups and the world’s worst days, ice cream has always been there. Now, for moms struggling with breastfeeding, your good pal Ben and his buddy Jerry can offer a sweet solution.
Ben & Jerry’s flavor Oat of This Swirled features brown sugar ice cream, cinnamon, chocolate chunks and oats – which are an effective galactagogue, or food that is believed to improve breast milk supply and flow. Who knew?!
It’s as easy as well, eating. Except, as with all things that seem too sugary to be true, there are caveats.
Before you start adding pints onto your grocery list, certified lactation counselor Nina Leciht-Crist tells Babble.com that galactagogues are fine, but moms should consider other factors before getting too gung-ho.
“See if the baby is gaining weight, if the latch looks good, ask how often the mother nurses, and watch her nurse before suggesting anything else,” Leicht-Crist says. “Then I’d suggest breast massage or simply letting the baby nurse when possible rather than food or herbs. I’d ask about family support and assess the current home situation. It’s really something that requires a lot of questions before I’d suggest any supplement.”
The more women nurse, the more milk their bodies make. Yet many women worry that they’re not producing enough milk to keep up with fussy, hungry newborns.
It is a fear and a struggle that is common and definitely normal.
There are lots of reasons this could be happening in the first place. From hormonal issues and any medicines you’re taking to something as simple as when you’re scheduling your baby’s meals.
The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee acknowledges that foods and herbs have indeed been used to help mother’s breastfeed throughout history, but they say most of these methods haven’t been properly vetted by science.
“Traditional use suggests safety and possible efficacy,” says a 2011 ABM study. “The placebo effect may be reason for widespread impressions (anecdotal experience) of a positive effect of fenugreek on increased milk volumes.”
ABM says women will see better results by improving breastfeeding practices: skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby to up oxytocin levels, self-breast massages, relaxation techniques, avoid limiting frequency and duration of feeding times, stop unnecessary supplements, use full-size automatic cycling breast pumps or hands-on pumping, and make sure to adjust electrical pumps so that they’re comfortable.
However, if you’re still struggling with breast pumps, you can hear your baby’s hungry cry right at this very second, and usual methods haven’t worked for you, adding foods and drinks that are natural galactagogues wouldn’t cause any harm.
The professionals just suggest taking this option with a grain of salt.
Nonetheless, there are lots of options that double as a galactagogue: fenugreek, brewer’s yeast, alfalfa, garlic, sesame seeds, dandelion, fennel, almonds (raw or as almond milk or marzipan), organic teas, lactation cookies, and as mentioned, oats – like the kind in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
“I already knew about the power of oats as a supply booster from nursing my son. I found myself downing bowls of gross oatmeal a few times a day in an effort to keep up with my little guy’s ravenous appetite. I also took fenugreek, a supplement thought to increase breast milk supply, which made me smell like maple syrup (sexy). Had this ice cream existed in 2009, I would’ve bought it by the case,” writes Valerie Williams of Scary Mommy.
Galactagogues may not be an indisputable, surefire solution, but when mom and baby have had a very long day, Ben & Jerry’s Oat of this Swirled could be a treat for both. Go ahead and grab yourself a bowl.
Have any breastfeeding moms tried this ice cream to help boost your milk supply? Tell us in comments.