As a breastfeeding mom, you’ve clearly passed the hurdle of having your milk come in. And, that is not always an easy task. Often around three to four months I’ll get a call from clients or friends worried because when they last pumped, they noticed a decrease in their supply. Before getting too upset, let’s take a look at what could be going on.
Your baby may be ready to change sizes again! Growth spurts are frequent when babies are under a year. Your breast milk will change based on this demand, but it may take some time for your body to get caught up. With each growth spurt comes an increase in caloric consumption, meaning babies want to eat more often and longer. Nurse on demand and see if this helps boost your supply.
Are you feeling more stress? Those motherhood demands we all feel can take their toll. As stressors increase, like planning to go back to work, and you find you have a more active infant on your hands, it can feel overwhelming. Stress can decrease a mother’s breast milk supply, so be sure to check your stress levels and try to include a little self-care along with the infant care. Asking for help with baby and other household activities is a form of self-care.
Could you be under-eating? If so, it’s time to boost your calories. A little extra fatty goodness from an avocado, full-fat Greek yogurt, more olive oil on that salad, or munching on some nuts may be just what you need to help keep up your supply. Don’t forget that you need far more calories to support breastfeeding than pregnancy. This is not the time to focus on decreased energy intake (e.g. dieting, which we never recommend).
Are you drinking enough fluid? Hydration, hydration, hydration! Are you getting enough water to keep your body hydrated and to keep up with milk production? Keep a quart-sized glass of water next to your bed, a bottle of water next to the baby’s bed, and a full glass every place you may sit to nurse. If you are sensing thirst, honor it.
Foods that may boost milk supply
If you have those bases covered pull up a chair and sip on a mug of fenugreek tea. Let’s talk about galactagogues or foods that are thought to promote breast milk production. While there aren’t stacks and stack of research to fully support these foods being “milk producers,” fortunately, there’s no harm in trying these with whole foods options.
1. Fenugreek: Skip the supplements and buy the seeds (far cheaper and you will actually know that you are in fact getting fenugreek). You can brew your own tea from the seeds (1 teaspoon in hot water) or add them to rice, couscous, or salad for an added delicious boost.
2. Brewer’s Yeast: This may have a potent taste for some so try adding brewers yeast to baked goods before cooking or blend into a smoothie.
3. Oatmeal: A daily bowl of oatmeal is good for digestion and milk production. Whip up some overnight oats if you find you’re low on time in the morning.
4. Chia or Flaxseeds: Both chia and flax seeds are packed with omega fatty acids, which may help with supply.
5. Vitamin A-rich vegetables or a juicy steak: Low iron doesn’t bode well for milk supply, so eating a spinach and carrot salad topped off with thinly sliced steak may be just the ticket to make improve your supply and make your taste buds happy.
If you are craving something chocolatey and sweet, give this recipe a try.
Almond Butter Cups
▪ 1 cup oatmeal
▪ ¼ cup honey
▪ ¼ cup almond butter (or peanut butter, if preferred)
▪ 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
▪ ½ cup almond butter
▪ ½ cup powdered sugar
▪ 1 Tbsp brewer’s yeast
▪ 3 oz dark chocolate
- Line 12 muffin cups with muffin cup papers.
- To the make the oat base, dump oats, honey, almond butter, and flaxseed in a food processor (or high powered blender, such as Vitamix). Process dough for 1 minute. Scrape down sides and process for 30 seconds. Place 2 tsp of base in each muffin cup liner and press out with your fingers. Dip your fingers in canola oil if the dough is sticky.
- To make nut-butter filling, in same food processor bowl, dump almond butter, powdered sugar and brewer’s yeast. Process dough until combined. Press 1 tsp of dough mixture onto base.
- To make the chocolate topping, in a microwave safe bowl melt chocolate for 30 seconds. Stir. Melt for 15 seconds. Stir. Continue heating for 15 seconds if needed. Put 1-2 tsp of dark chocolate on top. Tap pan or use finger to help chocolate spread. (lick your finger after all are done!)
- Next, pop these into the freezer for 15-30 minutes to set up. Store in the refrigerator for 1 week or freezer for 3 weeks.