By Michelle Lloyd
Charlotte native Lydia Lennox McNeary-Keyes, 39, was excited to welcome her new son into the world after 11 weeks of bedrest and an emergency c-section. However, she was finding it difficult to produce enough milk for her pre-term baby. This challenge inspired her and her business partner to create Milkin Cookies, an all natural food that can help with milk production in breastfeeding mothers. Lydia now resides in Roanoke, Va. where she continues to watch her business grow and help moms reach their breastfeeding goals.
Q. How did you get the idea for Milkin' Cookies?
A. I had struggled with my breastmilk supply from the time my son was born. I had been on bedrest for 11 weeks, had an emergency c-section, and then had a pre-term baby in the NICU. None of those things help with breastmilk production. Id been pumping eight to10 times per day to provide enough milk for him.
When I moved to Roanoke, my new job was not conducive to pumping, and I was really stressed about not having enough milk. Cheri, my business partner, was one of the physicians in my new practice. She was also struggling with breastfeeding. We began passing a bottle of fenugreek back and forth, but we didnt notice much difference, and we were tired of smelling like maple syrup.
Cheri is a great baker, and we both have an interest in nutrition, so we did our research on foods that helped to increase milk supply and then packed as many of those goodies as we could into a cookie. It took us about 22 tries before we got it right. (My job was the taste-tester. That was fun but my lack of portion control was not great for my waistline.) We shared cookies with our breastfeeding co-workers, who also had good success with them, so Milkin Cookies were born.
Q. How do they work?
A. We use food galactogoguesfoods that help to increase breastmilk supply. The main ingredients are nutritional yeast, oatmeal, wheat germ, and flax seed. We dont use any fenugreek because it can lower blood sugar, which can be dangerous for premature babies, and we dont use medications or preservatives.
Q. When do you recommend a new mom should begin eating them?
A. We tried to make the cookies as healthy as we could, so theyre really a great snack even if you dont need to boost breastmilk supply. (My husband and son eat them all the time.) Theyre also great for pregnant moms because they have lots of fiber. Not all moms struggle with lack of breastmilksome moms have an overabundance.
Breastfeeding more often (or pumping, if nursing isnt an option) is the best way to increase breastmilk supply. If a mom is still struggling, then Id recommend trying cookies. Most moms notice a difference after one or two cookiesusually one cookie a day is enough to see an increase.
Q. What flavors do you make?
A. We currently sell Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Milkin Cookies and Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Milkin Cookies. We have a dairy-free cookie that will be available soon, and were working a few new flavors right now.
Q. Which is your favorite?
A. Cranberry Almond Oatmeal is a good morning snack, and the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip is my favorite for an afternoon snack.
Q. Are your cookies safe to eat when you are pregnant or not lactating?
A. Yes! We dont use any medications, herbs or preservatives. Our husbands and children eat them all the time. We tried to cut out as much sugar as possible and still have them taste good, so I dont feel guilty when I give them to my sontheyre healthier than lots of snack options.
Q. Where are the cookies made?
A. Theyre made in Roanoke, Va.
Q. Where can we find Milkin' Cookies in Charlotte?
A. Right now they are only available online through our Web site and Id love to have them in a Charlotte store soon.
Q. How are you able to work full time, run a business, plus manage family life?
A. I feel like we live in a constant state of chaos and exhaustion, but I wouldnt trade it. I have a supportive husband, and we are lucky to have a phenomenal nanny who helps control some of the craziness. My son is a great sport, too. He likes to play cookie packager and often pretends to answer calls about his patients, so I think he thinks this is the way our life is supposed to be.
Q. What has been your favorite part of having the business?
A. Its been a wild ride. I love that Im always learning something new. But the best part is the responses we receive from moms who have been helped by the cookies. An email that says I never could have met my goal of breastfeeding my twins for six months without your cookies makes it worthwhile.
You can get more info at the Web site.