When I was pregnant with Hayden, I didn’t put a lot of thought into breastfeeding. There wasn’t a second thought that there was any other way. It was incredibly naive of me because it’s actually a task that is very daunting and often difficult for a lot of women. Being removed from social media, I didn’t have Facebook or Instagram at the time, meant the only input I had on the subject was conversations I had with people or the books I was reading. A combination of good fortune and lack of knowledge really, led me to able to breastfeed Hayden for her first year. It was painful and frustrating at times, but perseverance made it possible for me to do something that I honestly just expected my body to do. I now realize how truly fortunate I am. It’s hard. It doesn’t come easy for some, sometimes it’s not possible at all. There are countless variables to factor in. Is your supply sufficient? Is your diet affecting your milk? Does your baby have reactions to things you consume like dairy or soy? Then there are things like proper latch or if they are feeding properly. If not, it can lead to mastitis or your supply drying up. All things considered, I’m glad I didn’t know any of this beforehand, or I probably would have thrown in the towel once it got tough. With both Hayden and Reid I had supply issues somewhere between six and ten months and we had to supplement with formula. By the time they both reached their first birthday, they were completely weaned from breastfeeding and we started them on whole milk. I had a wealth of information and experience by the time we had Reid. Enter reflux. He nursed wonderfully, and then would promptly throw it all up. I changed my diet, we experimented with feeding styles and sleep positions. Rice cereal with his bottled milk. Nothing really helped except time. He simply outgrew it. He, is where I began my journey with lactation supplements. Fenugreek, brewers yeast and lactation teas were among them. Some worked and some didn’t and in retrospect I believe other factors made the biggest difference. I started working out and cutting calories fairly early on, and attempted to have a feeding schedule. I pumped quite often and they were bottle fed more than Waylon has ever been. Plus, I didn’t take the supplements as directed. Rookie mistake.
So, with all that in mind, I made it my life purpose to try and make it through the full year without having to supplement. To date, Waylon is bigger than either of his siblings were at this point and I’m able to feed him and pump enough extra to freeze a small portion. Here’s how things are going down this time around.
NURSING ON DEMAND
Who likes schedules anyway?? It turns out your baby can lead the way on this one and will eat what they need, when they need it. For this guy that means basically around the clock, day and night. But I’ve noticed it’s helped tremendously in keeping my supply up.
NO DIETING AND/OR STRENUOUS EXERCISE
Your postpartum body is amazing. You grew and housed an entire HUMAN and it might be squishier and some things are bigger than usual, but it all shrinks back down and finds its place again. In six months, I haven’t set foot in the gym. I’ve kept active but it’s been very moderate and low key. I’ve also eaten literally whatever I feel like. Some days that means lots of good stuff and then there are times like this past weekend where I eat 6 donuts. I try and just keep a balance and drink lots of water. I’ve lost all of my baby weight plus an additional 5 lbs by simply being mindful and allowing my body to guide the way. I let go of the stress of trying to fit into all my clothes early on and embraced that I would always have time to get back in shape. I wouldn’t ever get back this first year with him though and the time I would nurse would go by quickly. It’s paid off greatly and it’s so far my best nursing experience yet.
TAKING SUPPLEMENTS CORRECTLY
It pays to do your research. Read as much as you can. Ask other moms what worked for them. Talk to your doctor or pediatrician. Taking Fenugreek can help your milk supply. On the bottle it tells you as a herbal supplement to take three daily. When you do more research, you’ll find you need to take anywhere from 6-9 tablets to notice an increase. In more than one article, it stated if your body starts to smell like maple syrup you’re taking enough. Good to know. Herbal lactation tea. Not one cup. Two to three if not more. Be aware of products your using or ingesting. Large amounts of peppermint can have an adverse effect on your milk supply. And of course, how your body reacts to methods might vary entirely different than someone else’s. My favorite tried and true way to increase my milk has been cookies. The recipe below I adapted from a couple different ones I’ve tried and perhaps you’ll find success with them also.
2 cups oats
1 1/2 cup almond flour (you can use all purpose flour if you prefer)
5 tbsp brewers yeast ( I order this one from Amazon)
3 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp hemp protein powder (optional)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
12 tbsp softened butter
4 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, room temp
2 tsp vanilla
Add ins such as : chocolate chips, nuts or dried fruit
Combine your butter, oil, eggs, sugar and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl combine your dry ingredients excluding your oats and add ins. Slowly incorporate into your butter mixture until combined and then toss in your oats and extras. If you wish to bake them the same day, chill for at least an hour. Bake at 375 degrees for approx 8-9 minutes and let cool.
I personally like a really loaded, chunky cookie. My favorites to toss in are shredded coconut, dark chocolate chunks and walnuts. Brewers yeast tends to add a “savory” flavor to the dough so using almond flour in place of all purpose and lots of extras help balance that out. Hayden loves them, but Reid calls them gross. He also eats cold hot dogs though, so he lost his voting privileges a long time ago.
A little goes a long way, so my best recommendation is to make this recipe and freeze your dough. I found success in baking 5-6 cookies at a time, and eating those within a day or two. Usually by the end of the first day I notice a difference. Don’t beat yourself up that you just inhaled 5 cookies in a day. I only have to do this a couple times a month to help give my supply a needed boost. Using an ice cream scoop, portion out your dough and place them in freezer bags. Pull out what you need and bake for approx 10 minutes if baking immediately, while still frozen.
I’m not an advocate for breast is best. What’s best only you can determine. It’s hard work no matter what avenue you choose. Managing my own life, let alone the lives of three other small humans is stressful. So if all else fails, at least you have cookie dough to gorge on and wallow in your sorrows. Shout out to all you hard working mamas out there!
Disclaimer: Before taking ANY supplements speak with your doctor or healthcare provider. This post is 100% my opinion and my own personal experiences.