I made some lactation bars the other week and my Dad and I ate them all.
You see, it seems my milk supply winnowed a touch – or maybe more than that? – when Ace was around five months. I don’t know – it’ s not like he was fussy or crying for more – but, he didn’t nurse for very long (I mean, he never really has) and when I would pump (which wasn’t very often at all, but still) – nothing. It made me worry. It’s one of those things that you worry about but if you thought about it, you shouldn’t worry. (i.e. He was growing and was happy, so why did I start to stress?)
Yet, stress I did. I started thinking about it a lot. It was on my mind all the time. I understood that my milk supply had at least mellowed out from the initial onslaught of leaking nipples, which it usually does, but was it nearly depleted? Not being able to pump milk hadn’t happened with Radley, so I figured something might be kind of wrong. There is nothing more disappointing then getting out all of that equipment to only get a few drops. I remember filling both bottles when I was nursing Rad, so, I couldn’t help but feel like I was failing. And even though I don’t really pump that much, I just suddenly decided that I needed to know that I could. And, you know, once your milk depletes, how do you get it back?
Lactation bars pop up on my Instagram feed every now and then. They look delicious. And, I click on the links each time, but ultimately shake my head – I just can’t see them in my budget. (About $108 per month?)
Since I love being in the kitchen and coming up with recipes all the time, it seemed like a tasty, milk-inducing granola bar was easily up my alley. And, it turns out it was.
What I have read is that fenugreek, brewer’s yeast, oats and flax are great potential milk boosters and after tooling around with a few different recipes and cobbling together some online suggestions, I came up with my winner. I mean, my Dad and I polished off that 9 x 13 pan of bars in two days. Not the plan, but when something is that tasty …
So, do they work? I started leaking milk the next day, so something works. But, I will say that from my research and then from my own experience, you can’t just depend on fenugreek teas and brewer’s yeast bars. (Which, I did think was all I had to do.) You need to let your body know that you want it to make more milk. The only way for that to happen is demand.
Here’s the thing. I was so so fortunate to come across a post on Instagram from a mom who was experiencing the same thing I was and who asked her followers (15,000 of them) for any suggestions on getting her milk supply back up. I skimmed through the suggestions, still wavering on whether or not I should even be thinking about this, and came across one suggestion to head to Lactation Link, a company that offers online and in-person breastfeeding classes. Lactation Link’s blog is what I found myself reading that afternoon and I came away feeling huge amounts of relief. Was my baby content? Yes. Was my baby gaining weight? Yes. But, also, there were some tips. Lindsey Shipley, the founder of Lactation Link, wrote in a blog post that while lactation bars may help increase milk supply there is not enough research evidence to support this. And, what’s more, most women don’t actually need galactagogues. What she does recommend though is hand expression. She says that even a few two-to-three minute sessions a day can help increase your milk supply. And I can tell you, it works. I was gobbling up these sweet, chocolate-laden bars telling myself, “These are so GOOD for me!!” But, eventually my milk just went back to what it was before. I needed to get Ace feeding more often (and, he’s been more than happy to oblige) and I started hand expressing a couple times a day and I can so happily say that it has been working so well. We feel back on track and the freezer is full of milk. While I only dream about moments when I would be out on a date with my husband and someone would need to be feeding Ace a bottle, it’s still nice to know that I can pump. And, more importantly, it’s nice to know I have plenty of milk coming in for an ever growing babe.
Looking back on it all, I think Ace was getting plenty of milk. I think there just wasn’t any extra to pump. But, I’m so glad I was able to get my supply back up enough to a point that makes me feel like I have “extra.” And, I wanted to post this for all those moms who are feeling a bit worried although I do think the best thing you can do is contact your lactation consultant or a company like Lactation Link. Support is what you need.
And, sweet treats.
Which leads me to my recipe. There are loads of variations, so do make the bars up how you would like them. They are gluten-free and can easily be dairy-free which is nice because some moms need to keep those foods in check.
And, the thing about these bars is that anyone can eat them – Rad loves them, and clearly, so does my Dad.
So, make the bars. Because they are DELICIOUS, and they might actually help. Then, stop stressing, hand express, feed your baby more often and I betcha’ if that milk has winnowed a bit, that milk is going to come right back in.
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1/4 cup water
1 cup of coconut butter (or deodorized coconut oil)
1 cup of honey
I cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups of oat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup brewer’s yeast
2 cups of rolled oats
1 cup chopped almonds/shredded coconut/chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped pitted dates/dried apricots/raisins/chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish
- Combine your ground flax seed and water and let rest, preferably in the fridge
- Cream together coconut butter and honey (Then, lick this, because it’s delicious)
- Work in your coconut sugar
- Beat in eggs and vanilla
- In another bowl combine the oat flour, baking soda, salt and brewer’s yeast
- Whisk flour mixture into butter mixture
- Stir in oats, nuts and dried fruits (or chocolate chips!)
- Spoon mixture into prepared 9 x 13 baking dish and smooth out the top
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes
- Let cool (or don’t)
- Once cool, pop into the fridge to make sure it firms up, making them easier to cut into serving sizes, and making them easier to eat. (This is because of how coconut butter and coconut oil act.) And, if you’re not like me, pop at least half of them into the freezer so you don’t eat them all in two days. .
For your fat, use butter or shortening in place of the coconut butter/coconut oil
For the honey, use all sugar – coconut, granulated, etc.
For the eggs, use flax eggs
For the oat flour, use regular flour
For your add-ins – what do you love?!
Also to note: These are really sweet! But, I thought that was a good place to start because sometimes you want something like dessert at 2 p.m. But, I have made these with only one cup of sweetener and that is nice sometimes. And, I do prefer to make these with dried fruit as opposed to chocolate chips to make them even less sweet. But, hey, these are YOUR bars. Make yourself happy.