If you’re a breastfeeding mother, are about to have a baby, or know someone who is – these healthy breastfeeding cookies to boost milk supply, are a must try.
Breastfeeding can be one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences for both mum and baby. For some, the process comes easily and for others, it’s quite the opposite. I’d like to share part of my breastfeeding story, along with some of the benefits of breastfeeding and ways to boost milk supply, including my recipe for healthy breastfeeding cookies.
MY BREASTFEEDING STORY
I’m grateful for a relatively easy breastfeeding journey with Otis that lasted just shy of 21-months. I had to undergo a necessary course of antibiotics, which cut this time a bit shorter than I would have liked but he was happy to move on and never looked back, it was me that struggled with the “break up”. He’s 9 months in the above photo and we’re in the back of a Winebago that we traveled around Tasmania in for 2-weeks
Otis was a surprisingly tiny (2.96kg) baby and my enormous milk-laden breasts (12DD pre-baby) were just too big for his tiny mouth to cope with when he was born **warning: enormous boobs pic coming up**. I had plenty of colostrum in those early days, which I could express and feed him with a syringe, but I really struggled in hospital to get him to breastfeed – every midwife who walked through the door told me to do something different and it became so stressful. On day 4, a young midwife suggested I try a nipple shield which made it easier for Otis to attach and slowed down my flow of milk – we happily used this for the first few weeks until he grew big enough to feed without it. That nipple shield was a god send but it made feeding a little more awkward – cue milk spraying in the face of my hungry screaming baby whilst I try to attach a nipple shield, one handed, with step daughters eagerly watching on saying “I think you need to feed him Lucy”. Needless to say I avoided feeding in a public place those first few weeks, until we dropped the nipple shield, weren’t milk soaked, and my body and baby found our groove.
I was studying full-time when Otis was born and spent many an hour cranking the breast pump during lectures, carrying around my little esky of milk. I think these longs days off the breast decreased my supply and it was around this time – Otis was about 4 months – that I started looking for breastfeeding cookies recipes. Everything I found container far too much refined sugar and white flour, so I created my own healthy breastfeeding cookies. I do feel they increased my milk production and they also made a great “I’m famished” post-feeding sweet snack.
I also engaged a lactation consultant at this point, just to make sure we were doing everything right. This was a comforting and enlightening experience and I urge all new mothers who have any concerns about breastfeeding to do the same because you’re doing an amazing job and sometimes a different perspective is all that’s needed to shed light on a situation.
BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING
If available, breast milk is the best thing you can feed to your newborn baby. It contains all the essential vitamins and nutrients your baby needs for about the first 6 months of their life.
Breast milk is also alive and ever-changing to suit your babies needs and growing immune system by providing antibodies that your baby needs to help fight off bacteria and viruses. Breast milk begins with colostrum, or “liquid gold”, that you begin to produce around the 16th week of pregnancy and it lasts until the baby is about 1 week old. Colostrum is rich in antibodies and helps protect your baby’s gut in the early days and acts as a laxative to help clear out meconium (your baby’s first poo). Your milk then changes to transitional milk around day 7 until about day 21 and finally becomes mature milk, which completely meets the growing needs of your baby until about 6-months of age. If you become sick, your breast milk will make antibodies to help protect your baby from getting sick too. It’s amazing stuff!
Evidence shows that breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from necrotising enterocolitis, diarrhoea, respiratory illness, middle ear infection, type 1 diabetes and childhood leukaemia. Available evidence also shows that breastfed babies have enhanced cognitive development. Breast milk can help lower the risk of allergies, asthma, parasites and viruses. Breastfeeding benefits mothers by promoting faster recovery from childbirth, reducing the risks of breast and ovarian cancers in later life, and reduced maternal depression.
Australia’s infant feeding guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants to around 6-months of age when solid foods are introduced and continued breastfeeding until the age of 12-months and beyond, if both mum and baby wish.
HOW TO SUPPORT MILK PRODUCTION
Learning about breast milk production and knowing what to expect in those first few hours and first few days of your baby’s life can really help to reduce your stress levels. Because you’ll have some basic knowledge about what changes your body is about to make and what to expect from your baby in those first few hours, you will know whether things are going right, and if not, you’ll know to ask for help to get things back on track.
To help get milk production off to a good start, practice skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding soon after delivery, if possible. Breastfeeding or hand expression within an hour of birth, sleeping in the same room with your baby if you’re delivering in a hospital, and breastfeeding often will all help support a full milk supply.
HEALTHY BREASTFEEDING COOKIES
These cookies are easy to make, quick to bake and most of the ingredients are likely to already be in your kitchen cupboard. Brewer’s yeast is the key ingredient – a galactagogue that boosts milk supply, that’s readily available at health food stores. Brewer’s yeast (not to be confused with or replaced by bakers yeast) a distinctly bitter taste, so you may need to play around with the amount of sweetness in this recipe – I’ve made them just sweet enough to disguise the bitterness. Here’s what they contain –
- Oats: A pantry stable that’s full of protein, fibre, and iron
- Flaxseeds/linseeds: Full of omega-3 for healthy baby brain development. Buy whole seeds and freshly grind them yourself (the ground seeds or meal sold in plastic bags will have oxidised from exposure to light and oxygen), or purchase an organic flaxseed meal in a tin – usually found in the fridge of health food stores
- Brewer’s Yeast: Boosts milk supply and full of B vitamins, magnesium and iron. Also contains chromium to help balance bloods sugars
- Apple: Using this naturally sweet fruit means you don’t need to use sugar in this recipe. Steam and puree your own apples or look for an organic unsweetened puree. Pear also works here
- Coconut Oil: Another source of essential fatty acids which support brain development. Look for cold-pressed coconut oil which will be less-processed and retain more of its nutrients
- Nuts: Full of protein and healthy fats to help you feel fuller for longer
- Tahini: A great source of calcium, a key nutrient for breastfeeding mum – whilst pregnant, if your diet is lacking in calcium, your growing baby will take all the calcium from you that they can get. The same is true while you breastfeed
- Egg: The choline found in eggs (yolk) can support your baby’s brain development. It’s also full of protein and healthy fats for mum
MAKES: APPROX. 24 – PREP TIME: 10 MINS – COOK TIME: 15 MINS
- 1 cup organic rolled oats
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- 3 Tbsp organic freshly ground linseeds
- 3 Tbsp. brewer’s yeast
- ½ cup organic apple puree (or pear)
- ¼ cup of maple syrup, honey or rice malt syrup
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil
- ½ cup nut butter
- 1 Tbsp hulled tahini
- 1 organic egg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup preservative-free sultanas
- ½ cup cacao nibs *optional (newborns can be particularly sensitive to caffeine)
Gluten free option: Replace rolled oats with quinoa flakes – Egg free option: Replace egg with chia egg – Nut free option: Replace nut butter with seed butter
- Pre-heat oven to 180’C and line two trays with baking paper.
- In a bowl, whisk together the apple, honey, coconut oil, nut butter, egg and vanilla until combined
- Add oats, linseed, brewer’s yeast, cinnamon and baking soda and stir to combine
- Add sultanas and cacao nibs and fold to combine
- Place tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto your lined trays – beware they spread when cooking – and bake for 12-15 minutes, until slightly golden
- Store in an airtight container or freeze (they only take 5 minutes to defrost on the kicthen bench)