Editor’s note: This post is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a medical professional or physician before treatment of any kind.
I scream! You scream! We all scream for ice cream! Or maybe only I do. Because I do, regularly. I can put away a bowl faster than you can say chocolate fudge brownie. So when I caught wind of some Internet rumors that a certain Ben & Jerry’s flavor has health benefits, my ears perked up.
Ice cream that’s good for me? TELL ME MORE.
Here are the facts: The Ben & Jerry’s flavor, called Oat of this Swirled, has oats in it. Oats are one of the most effective galactagogues. If you’re like me, and have no idea what that word means, don’t bother Siri — I’ll help you out. According to Merriam-Webster, galactagogues are foods that help a woman produce more milk or improve her milk flow. (Oats! Who knew?) Other galactagogues include alfalfa, brewers yeast, and dandelion, FYI.
So oats are sounding pretty good right now, amiright?
Therefore, according to a rumor that appears to have first circulated on Romper, eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream may help breastfeeding mothers with their milk production. (By that logic though, so would eating oatmeal cookies, oatmeal muffins, or an actual bowl of oatmeal, the last of which is obviously your most healthy choice. Maybe not most delicious, but definitely healthiest.) And who doesn’t love Ben & Jerry’s? So, if you’re going to dive in to a bowl of frozen creamy deliciousness, might as well get it with a topping of galactagogues … right?
Okay, but seriously — let’s think about this: The health benefits from the small amount of oats in Oat of this Swirled are likely canceled out by the high sugar and fat content. If you’re struggling with your milk supply, and want to consume some milk-producing foods, it might be a better idea to hunker down with a big warm bowl of actual oatmeal. Also, mothers should assess other factors if they aren’t getting enough milk, as there are more reliable methods of increasing production. Some lactation consultants recommend drinking more water, practicing techniques to reduce stress, pumping, and nursing on demand as ways to improve supply.
Nina Leicht-Crist, certified lactation counselor and writer at Millions of Peaches, says eating foods known to help with milk supply are fine, but she’d discuss other factors with a breastfeeding mom before suggesting she go that route. If a mother came to her looking for suggestions to improve milk production, Nina tells Babble she would “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.”
“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.”
Mamas, listen; I say go enjoy yourself a bowl of ice cream whenever you damn well please. But if a better milk supply is what you’re after, I think we can all agree there are other routes that are proven to be more effective in doing so.
No hate on my buddies Ben & Jerry, though. In fact, I think I’ll head over there now for some Cherry Garcia …More On