These yummy no-bake lactation bites are perfect for a nursing mom or anyone who needs a healthy, hearty, handy boost of energy!
I know I’m not alone when I say breastfeeding is hard. It’s one of the most amazing things we can do for our babies as moms, but also can be the most exhausting, frustrating, time-consuming, emotional aspect of early motherhood. I’m 2 months into my third go-round at breastfeeding and I can say that although it has gotten easier and much smoother with each baby, it’s still really hard.
I’ve always had the desire to breastfeed our babies and before we even had babies, I had this glorious vision of easily and exclusively breastfeeding them until they were at least a year old. Well, when Baker was born, my visions for how breastfeeding should go were quickly proven wrong. I just didn’t and couldn’t make enough milk. We tried everything…lactation consultants, nursing as often as possible, pumping after and between each feeding, lots of water, lots of rest, Fenugreek, Mother’s Milk tea, Domperidone medicine, increasing my calorie intake by 1000 extra calories on top of the 2000+ I was already eating, and anything else that was recommended. I was willing to try anything and although my supply did increase some, I just couldn’t keep up with his growing demand so we had to supplement with formula.
I was really sad at first. I felt like such a failure for not being able to feed my baby like mothers are supposed to be able to do. Fortunately, I have a great support system around me that encouraged and reminded me that I was doing my best and that the breast milk I was able to provide for Baker was doing him great and better than none. So I pressed on and continued to feed Baker with a combination of breast milk and formula for 6 months until he was eating solids. A few months in, I ended up pumping exclusively so I knew exactly how much I was making and how much he was getting. I also continued to pump every 3 hours even when he was sleeping a 12-hour stretch through the night. This kept up the demand so I was able to provide him with even more breast milk throughout the day. It worked, but boy was I glad when it came time to pack away the pump.
So when we learned we were expecting twins, I was hopeful to provide as much breast milk for them as possible, but knew that it would be a miracle if I made enough. I was much more comfortable going into breastfeeding with the twins, but the fact that there were two of them was definitely trying and tricky. I started out feeding them both at once and then just alternating breasts, but when they got a little bigger, I could just feed one at a time. I pretty quickly resorted to pumping exclusively for them so that they were each getting the same amount of breast milk and so that we knew how much to supplement with. Whew, now those feedings were exhausting, but I got the hang of it and couldn’t have done it without Brandon’s help, especially in the beginning. When Brandon returned to work, I got into a routine of pumping while the twins were drinking a bottle and then feeding them the breast milk I had just pumped at the next feeding. I would fix their bottles with a combination of breast milk and formula, get them all propped up in two Boppy pillows right in front of me, get myself set up with the hands-free pump, and then hold the bottles in their mouths while I pumped away. All this while keeping an eye on Baker, who was just 19 months when they were born. Absolute craziness looking back on it, but honestly it worked and everyone was healthy and happy. The twins learned to hold their bottles pretty early on which made for much smoother feedings and gave my arms a much welcomed break. We did this for almost 6 months before I packed away the pump once again.
Before the twins were born, I started hearing about lactation cookies. Eating cookies that could possibly increase my milk supply. Score! Sign me up! I even came up with a great Lactation Cookie recipe of my own. Whether they were really the reason for my increase in milk supply or not, I loved them and needed them to satisfy my constant hunger. I would eat 1-2 of these lactation cookies every time I nursed or pumped. Yes, that’s a lot of cookies, my friends, but I was trying to produce as much as possible for twins and with an already low milk supply, I needed all the boost and calories I could get. I definitely made several additional ounces each day compared to what I made when Baker was a baby and could feel a difference in the fullness of my breasts.
Well, here we go again, with little Brooklynn! She latched like a champ from the minute she was born and I am definitely making more milk this time than I did with Baker or the twins which I’m so excited about, but I’m to the point now where I just can’t keep up with her growing demand.
Oh, and I learned that I make skim milk. Go figure! In the beginning, she was getting plenty of milk and was completely satisfied with lots of wet diapers, but she just wasn’t gaining weight. This is the first time I’ve heard this, but my pediatrician said that my milk is probably more on the skim side. He said that some women make cream and others make skim while others are in between. So we tested some of my milk by pumping a bottle and letting it set to see how much fat separation there was. And guess what? There’s hardly any fat separation. My milk even looks skim. Y’all, I eat lots of fatty foods (have you seen my addiction to donuts on Instagram?? Just kidding!). Seriously, I am always eating healthy fats like almonds, peanut butter, avocados, olive oil, etc. The pediatrician suggested I up my healthy fat intake to see if we could fatten my milk up a bit. So I went to town eating several avocados (hello guacamole & avocado toast!), handfuls of almonds & cashews, full fat milk, peanut butter on top of and in everything, eggs, and any other healthy fats that I could consume, almost to the point of making myself sick. I could see a slight increase in thickness to my milk, but nothing to warrant making myself sick over so I continue to choose healthy fats as much as possible, but more in moderation.
Before Brooklynn was even born, I knew I would be wanting lactation cookies on hand and thought it might be a little too ambitious to be baking cookies all the time while also trying to keep 4 kiddos alive. 😉 So I came up with these no-bake lactation bites that are so easy to make and can be ready to eat in 10 minutes or less. They’ve been great because in those early days, my mom or Brandon could make them for me without having to worry about baking cookies and the boys love helping make and eat them too. They call them “mama’s medicine balls”. Haha! Because if we’re running low and they want some, I tell them “those are for mama, they’re like my medicine so I can make milk for Brooklynn.” 😉 😉
So what makes no-bake lactation bites so great for nursing? Well, it’s been said that oatmeal, brewer’s yeast and healthy fats such as peanut butter and flaxseed can help increase a mother’s milk supply. Whether it works or not, I can’t say for sure, but these bites are healthy, hearty and handy. I like to have some made at all times because when I get hungry, I get hungry. I need something asap before my hungry state turns hangry. 😉 I snack on these little bites of yumminess all day long…first thing in the morning, on the way to get the boys from school, while pumping and even in the middle of the night (because when I’m nursing, I can’t even make it through the night without eating something. It’s crazy!). They’re full of my favorite flavors (peanut butter and chocolate!! What! What!) and textures (oatmeal, flaxseed, nuts, mmmm…mmmm!). I love them so much and seriously never get sick of them. I most often make them into these bite-sized balls (for convenience and great portion size), but sometimes I’ll just press the mixture into an 8×8-inch square dish and cut them into bars. I most often double the recipe because we go through them so fast.
I always leave the base recipe the same with the oats, flaxseed, brewer’s yeast, peanut butter or almond butter, honey and vanilla, and I most often just add in dark chocolate chips, but sometimes, I’ll leave the chocolate chips out because I like eating them without chocolate chips in the middle of the night. Or in addition to the chocolate chips, I’ll add in 1/2 cup chopped nuts (such as almonds or walnuts) or a handful of dried cranberries, just to switch them up a bit.
If you’re a nursing mama and looking for something to have on hand to keep you satisfied and energized, these no-bake bites are awesome! And if you’re not nursing and just looking for something nutritious and delicious to get you through a busy/active day, they’re so great for that too!
And don’t be scared by the brewer’s yeast. It’s a nutritional supplement that’s been shown to enhance energy levels and boost the immune system and we could all use a little of that most of the time. I buy mine from Whole Foods, but I think you can order it online too. I’m a huge fan of brewer’s yeast!
Well, there you have it. My struggles and successes with breastfeeding my babes along with a great recipe for no-bake lactation bites, that I know you’ll love!
SEE HOW THEY’RE MADE:
Sending lots of love and hugs to all my fellow mamas out there! Hang in there and know that you’re doing your best, no matter how you do it!
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- ½ cup ground or milled flaxseed
- 3 tablespoons brewer’s yeast
- 1 cup peanut butter or almond butter
- ½ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add all ingredients except for the chocolate chips. Mix on low speed until mixture is well combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
- Roll mixture into 2-tablespoon sized smooth balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or enjoy right away. Once the bites have set, transfer them to an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.