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Having a baby is an event wrapped in layers of anticipation, joy, fear, excitement and wonder. Many mothers will tell you that, once that baby arrives, there are a million and one questions that need to be answered – no matter how prepared a mom-to-be is.
And no mom really knows what to expect when her new baby lands in her arms, be it a first child or a second or third. Nutrition is key, and for many women, one of the biggest of challenges – especially when they opt to breastfeed.
Research from Equity Health shows that, in Canada, 91% of all mothers initiate breastfeeding, but, according to equityhealthj.biomedcentral.com, 40–50% of mothers stop by six months and only 34% breastfeed exclusively for six months.
And yet, breastfeeding is as old as life, and a normal way to feed your baby. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding because it is “one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival,” according to the website, yet WHO research reveals that nearly two out of three infants are not exclusively breastfed for the recommended 6 months — a rate that has not improved in two decades.
Nutritionists and lactation experts will tell you that breast milk is the ideal food for infants – it’s safe, clean and contains antibodies which help protect against many common childhood illnesses. “Breast milk is the best food for newborns,” notes Canada’s Public Health Agency, adding it provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and “continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life.”
Plus, according to international board-certified lactation consultant Catherine McEvilly, in a recent media release, “eating certain foods, herbs and spices to support milk supply goes back thousands of years.”
There’s more – but try telling that to frustrated mothers of newborns who struggle to breastfeed in the first place. As profound as it is, actually trying to breast feed a child can be one of the most stressful issues facing a new mom.
“It was with me,” says Canadian baker, bakery business owner and mother Lisa Sanguedolce. “My son was born four years ago, and I still remember the stress and anxiety. Breastfeeding my son during those first few weeks after he was born was a nightmare, and one of the most stressful events ever,” added Sanguedolce in a recent interview, noting she grappled with such issues as not enough breast milk coming in to feed her hungry son.
“I became desperate, and started sourcing everything, including proper nutrition and what I should be eating to help produce milk. I discovered there were special lactation cookies available in Buffalo, so I’d drive down there and pick up a bunch of packages and take them home.”
Whatever was in the cookies worked, says Sanguedolce, who trained at the Leiths School of Food and Wine in the U.K. before opening up her own company, Le Dolci Bakery and Cooking School (www.ledolci.com) in Toronto.
“And then my staff said, ‘you have a bakery. Why can’t you make your own?’”
Sanguedolce set out to research lactation cookies and, working closely with a group of nutritionists, food scientists and with McEvilly, created her own cookies – that are now selling like the proverbial hotcakes.
“I knew there was a need, but this is beyond anything I could have imagined,” says Sanguedolce of her Lactation Cookie Company (thelactationcookiecompany.com). Some mothers are buying up nine boxes at a time!”
The cookies contain ingredients that are healthy, nutritious – and anyone can enjoy. Everything from pure Canadian maple syrup to galactagogues, Brewer’s yeast, flaxseed and rolled oats, and they brim with such nutrients as B vitamins, minerals, amino acids and protein, flax, magnesium, zinc, folate and antioxidants.
“But absolutely no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives,” adds Sanguedolce. “All the ingredients are pure, and everything is made in Ontario, certified vegan, Halal, Kosher and made in a peanut-friendly facility. They come in regular and plant-based varieties.”
Can anyone eat these cookies – including men? “Absolutely!” says Sanguedolce, who, with every box of cookies purchased, makes a donation to La Leche League in Canada and the U.S. to support breastfeeding education in North America. “No worries as they’re good for everyone – but, thanks to the galactagogues and Brewer’s yeast, give nursing moms a boost.”
Sanguedolce says she’s not only excited for this new business venture, but also putting a spotlight on breastfeeding in general, especially in public.
“This company was born out of my own personal challenges – but it’s more than just eating a cookie,” says Sanguedolce. “When you’ve a new baby, your whole world is turn upside down. Plus – try breastfeeding in public, where many moms are subjected to constant judgement that is cruel and beyond humiliating. Honestly, I am from that generation where breastfeeding moms were relegated to dark bedrooms, bathrooms and just plain out of sight. When I breastfed in public, I couldn’t believe the hurtful stares and looks I received. Which is incredibly sad as breastfeeding is a normal, healthy part of caring for your child.
“I’m trying to change all that. One cookie at a time.”