Hi, my name is Hilary Jacobson and I am the author of Mother Food: A breastfeeding diet guide with lactogenic foods and herbs.
I lived in Switzerland for 30 years. Originally, I moved there to study music, but then I met my husband, married, raised our four children and became fluent in German and gardening. In 2000, in Rapperswil, Switzerland, I was certified as a Holistic Lactation Consultant (CH.HU.SI.) with special studies in nutrition and herbalism.
I was the first to research, discuss and publish about how foods and herbs can support milk supply, and to point out that they have been used by mothers all around the world since . . . well, since just about forever, since our very beginnings as human beings.
In other words, these foods are integral to our history as women and mothers! And that’s exciting news, because we are having lots of problems with breastfeeding and colic and immunity these days, and this knowledge can help us.
Before going on to read this blog, you should know that scientific research is sparse when it comes to the influence of any herb or food that allegedly increases breast milk production.
You might ask why this is so. After all, don’t scientists and the government want to help mothers breastfeed more easily? I will be sharing my thoughts about this in my book-in-progress, The History of Low Milk Supply and the Lactogenic Diet.
To keep up with my work and get Chapter One of my book Mother Food for free, sign up here below!
For now, I’ll point out the obvious: there is no corporate interest in exploring food-as-galactagogues — on women, anyway — because there is no profit to be made. Thousands of studies have been done on the effects of different feeds on dairy milk production. In the dairy industry, a higher milk yield equates to greater profits, so corporate funding for studies is available. Regarding human mothers, there are no immediate profits for any food or drug industry when women produce more milk. Not surprisingly, no money is available for these kinds of studies.
That said, of the small studies that have taken place — almost all of them have been outside of the US — all except one have shown a positive result. That’s right — all studies on lactogenic foods and herbs show an increase in milk production with one exception — beer.
But how valid were the studies on beer?
Did the researchers, Julie Mennella and her team, use the traditional European beers that mothers swear by? No!
Did they have the moms drink the beer after a nice large meal which is how it is most commonly done? No!
And did they look at the history of beer, of how historic beer might be different from the beer used today? No!
That said, Mennella’s studies are fascinating and provide fabulous information. But that is a story for another blog post.
My interest in beer as a galactagogue began years after I published my book Mother Food, when I stumbled upon a blog post titled: “OUR GRANDMOTHERS WERE WRONG.” The article was based on one of Mennella’s earliest studies, Beer, Breast Feeding, and Folklore (1993).
Note the word “folklore” in the title. By using the word folklore, the researchers had made a kind of value statement about women who use beer as a galactagogue, which was picked up on by the blogger.
This irks me. Our Foremothers lived in times of much less science and knowledge, but they must have known something, otherwise, how could they have survived through much harder times than we are in today?
When we are told that our grandmothers were easily fooled in respect to their own body, well, that discourages us from trusting in our observations of our own body. It also stops us from wondering what they might have known back then of value that is forgotten today.
All of this fueled me to begin looking deeper into the questions around beer and breastfeeding.
In 2011, I published my first article on beer and breastfeeding on my blogger page. I had 8000 views that first day. I was quoted all over the Internet and linked to by Kellymom.com. I had written the first historic overview on beer and breastfeeding, and people were amazed to hear the story told a different way.
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I’ll drink to that!
Disclaimer: this website and its author or authors do not provide medical advice and cannot be held responsible for any use you make of the information presented here. Talk to your doctor and lactation expert for guidelines.