I recently posted a picture of my freezer stash of expressed breast milk on my Instagram stories and have received many questions from other breastfeeding mamas on how I managed it. Now, I’ve seen bigger stashes, and I must also remind you mamas of something my cousin told me – the fresher the better, so don’t drive yourself crazy trying to put away gallons of milk.
Also, I must put my disclaimer up front that I’m not a physician or expert by any means, and I can’t say for sure that any of my recipes or tips will definitely help all mothers produce more milk. All women have different breasts, obviously, and we all have different capacities and different situations that will also affect the milk supply.
I also want to put it out there that I’m not a #breastisbest advocate. I think we all have our own things to deal with, new motherhood is HARD enough without people trying to also tell us what’s right or wrong in how we choose to feed our babies. Look, the most important thing is that our babies are healthy and eating well. It doesn’t matter if it’s formula or breast milk, I’ve said in on my other socials and I’ll say it here #fedisbest. I had to supplement with formula the first few days after birth because Joe was ill and my milk wasn’t coming in fast enough, and it’s totally fine. I also gave him a pacifier while he was in the NHDU, and he’s 4 months old now and still nursing strong, so I don’t see the problem.
My maternity leave was 3 months long, and I took an additional 2 weeks off cos I needed to sort out childcare. I knew that I was definitely going back to work, and so having a bit of a freezer stash seemed like a good idea. When my son was 7 weeks old, my husband got really ill and we had to take him to the hospital. We were there for 3 days, and I was getting completely worn out with going back and forth between the hospital and home to breastfeed Joe. So then the freezer stash became a necessity. I realised that (knock on wood) if anything like that were to happen again, or if I needed to take medication, then I definitely needed to have some EBM tucked away.
The first two tips I’m going to share are definitely the crucial ones in building a good milk supply. If you don’t do these two things, you’re likely not going to have much luck no matter what kind of food or supplements you eat.
One: Stay hydrated.
Drink lots of water. I got myself a 1L capacity bottle with a straw and I refill that thing at least 4 times a day. Breastfeeding makes me SO thirsty, so I need to have ice cold water on me at all times, but also, the more water you drink, the more water your body is able to convert into milk. Easy.
Two: Regularly remove milk.
I’m sure you’ve read or been told that your milk supply is dependent on the demand (how much milk is removed). So if you want to make more milk, or make your body be more efficient at making milk, you want to remove it regularly. I bought myself a manual hand pump and started pumping on one side while my son nursed on the other (taking full advantage of the letdown), and would finish off the side he nursed on to ensure my boobs are completely emptied at each nursing session. By doing this, I was able to put away at least 500mls a day. But just to be clear, I don’t do this EVERY single time he nurses, that’s not practical. But I definitely do this at night or in the mornings as that’s when my supply is highest anyway.
Three: Oats and flaxseed.
Oats truly are the wonder food. Good for digestion, good for dieting, good for filling you up and apparently also damn good for milk! I take oatmeal every morning, with 2 tbsp of flaxseed meal stirred in. On the days that I don’t do this, I see a visible dip in my supply. If you look up lactation snack recipes, you’re likely to find many that involve oats, flaxseed, brewer’s yeast and wheat germ. I found out the hard way that Joe’s allergic to brewer’s yeast, and so I can’t take those.
Honestly, get your rest. Even a 15 minute nap will do you wonders, especially in those early weeks when your body is still regulating the milk supply. Everyone tells you to nap when the baby naps, but that’s not really doable – in between those loooooong nursing sessions (Joe used to take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to feed in the first month), you also need to find time to eat, shower and take care of other basic needs. But try and do one nap mid way through the day if possible, when I think back on my confinement weeks, the days where I managed a short nap were always the easy ones where he didn’t cry and cluster feed in the evenings because I didn’t have enough milk.
I’m going to share a recipe for milk boosting oat slices though, and if they work for you then GREAT, but if not… they’re a tasty and filling treat regardless. Over the coming weeks or months (depending on how long I breastfeed), I am likely going to share more recipes that are good for us mamas. At the end of the day, it’s drink water, rest, and eat well. Take care of yourself, mama, cos if you don’t then you won’t be able to take care of the little ones.
Milk Boosting Apple and Raspberry Oat Slices
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2 tbsp flaxseed meal
- 1 tbsp brewer’s yeast
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 100g butter, melted
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 grated apples
- 50g raspberries
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180C, line an 8×8″ baking tin with butter and greaseproof paper
- Combine the oats, flaxseed, brewer’s yeast, all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and lemon zest
- Melt the butter with the honey, and add to the dry ingredients
- Stir in the grated apples, mix until combined then stir in the raspberries and chocolate chips. I added chocolate chips cos brewer’s yeast flavour is kinda gross.
Be sure to check how your baby reacts to your milk when you add new ingredients. Joe is fine with Brewer’s Yeast in small doses like in this recipe, but when I took a straight up Brewer’s Yeast supplement, he broke out in such a terrible rash on his neck and back that he absolutely refused to nurse for a week until I stopped the supplement and the rash then faded away. I’ve been watching him carefully ever since, and hardly ever introduce new foods to my diet in a big batch, to make it easier to eliminate potential allergens if he reacts badly to any of them.
Anyway, hope you try these! If you’re not a breastfeeding mother but want a healthy breakfast snack like this, just omit the brewer’s yeast and flaxseed. Wishing any nursing mums out there all the best on this journey.
Lots of love,