When my son turned 6 months, my milk output started to decrease. At that point, I had been back to work for about 4 months and was having trouble keeping up with a regular pumping routine. My pumping times were blocked off on my calendar, but ad-hoc meetings or discussions would come up, and next thing you know it’d be 4pm and I’d have only pumped once. I had about a week of extra milk stashed from maternity leave, but every day we were slowly dipping into it.
The more the bags of frozen milk deplete, the more my anxiety rose. I felt like a total failure and a bad mom. I wasn’t making enough food for my baby! I couldn’t even complete the most basic responsibility of motherhood.
I started pumping at night before bed and really focused on keeping up with my pumping schedule at work. This helped but I was still producing about 1-2 ounces less than he was eating at daycare. As my frustration grew, I reached out to a few friends who I knew had also struggled with milk production. The tips they gave me included largely focused on diet: eat more healthy fats like coconut milk, flax, oatmeal, brewers yeast, and Mother’s Milk tea.
I started cooking a batch of steel-cut oats on the weekend with lots of flax seed and coconut milk mixed in. This allowed me to quickly warm up a bowl for breakfast during the week. I definitely noticed an increase in my milk production which gave me this surge of excitement. Silly? Maybe, but it’s crazy how emotionally wrapped up I was with my milk. However, after a two weeks, I got pretty tired of eating oatmeal everyday.
I took to the internet and found a number of recipes for lactation smoothies and cookies, however most of them included brewer’s yeast which I could not find at any of my nearby grocery stores. So instead of making a special trip to Whole Foods, I decided to use a few recipe ideas to make my own cookie. I amped up the ratio of oats and flax and added in almond butter for extra fat. The result was delicious. I craved those oatmeal cookies, maybe a little too much. I started alternating cookie days and steel-cut oatmeal days, with this consistent consumption my production stabilized to match my son’s needs. Yes! Success!
The recipe was good enough that I’ve continued to make a batch every week and thought it was worth sharing in case other mamas wanted to give it a shot. Please know that I am not a nutritionalist, this is just one strategy I used to help ease my own struggles.
- 1.5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons unrefined organic virgin coconut oil
- 1/2 cup cane sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1-2 hefty tablespoons almond butter (or peanut butter)
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips/chunks
- Preheat the oven the 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
- Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and coconut oil until creamy. Add in the sugar and beat until fluffy. Then add in your egg, almond butter, and flavorings, beating until combined. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just mixed in. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula until they are evenly dispersed.
- Scoop the dough into 1-inch rounds and place on a baking sheet at least an inch apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the bottoms are just golden. The cookies will still be very soft, but make sure you err on the side of less cooked. Nobody likes a dry cookie. Let cool completely before storing in a sealed container.
Have you struggled with your milk production? What tricks did you use to improve your output?