If you've done any research or reading on child rearing/ infant care, you probably know that almost every authority known to man agrees that breastfeeding is best for babies. Heck, even formula companies acknowledge this fact. Because it is best for Little Man, I am going to try my hardest to breastfeed him for a year.
(Image of Boobie Beanie from here.)
I know that there are many reasons that moms don't breastfeed, but I am fortunate enough to have not have run into those road blocks. (Knock on wood!)
That's not to say that the whole process has gone smoothly. Quite the opposite, in fact. I actually thought that I wouldn't make it the first month before throwing in the towel and resorting to formula. See, first it was difficult at the hospital because Little Man was kept in the nursery and put on an IV. At some point during the thirty-seven plus hours of labor I developed a fever. Because I was put on antibiotics, Little Man had to be put on them as well. For the first three days of his life he was getting all of the fluids he needed from a needle in his tiny little hand.
Though I diligently went to the nursery every 90 minutes or so, he just wasn't really latching or sucking. When he did latch he would fall asleep almost instantly and wouldn't suck. It was frustrating.
I'm not sure if it was my advanced age, my calm demeanor, or mistake, but I received very little help from the nurses and lactation consultants at the hospital. And because I was a first time mom who was a little naive about how the whole breastfeeding thing works, I didn't realize that the hospital should have talked to me about pumping my milk to ensure an adequate amount when Little Man was ready to eat.
Our discharge order from the hospital pediatrician was to see our pediatrician by Monday for a weight check because Little Man had been steadily losing weight. On Monday the scale let us know that he was still losing. Here I was encouraged to pump and supplement with a tiny syringe each and every time he ate. I was also told to return in two days.
Two days later we met with a different pediatrician (who ultimately became our primary pediatrician because she is AMAZING!). Even though it was lunch time and she probably wanted to scarf down a little something, she checked Little Man's suck, had him latch on, analyzed his latch and our positioning (while praising and encouraging), had him feed on both sides and then weighed him again. She did fancy doctor math and determined that he needed to be getting about 10 milliliters more per feeding in order to start gaining an ounce a day.
My marching orders were still to supplement my pumped breast milk with the syringe at each meal. I was frustrated beyond belief. As I saw it, this was my first failure as a mother. Heck, if I couldn't do what I was supposed to be biologically pre-programmed to do, how was I ever going to be successful as a mom? My body just didn't seem to want to make enough milk to feed my baby.
Little Man's doctor let me know that I was making enough to feed and hydrate him, just not quite enough to grow him. While I joke about keeping him small and reliant on me forever, it wasn't something I really wanted for him!
Adding to my frustration were conversations with friends who told me about their overproduction, their freezers full of milk, shooting streams across the room, etc. While all of these wonderful people were well-meaning, I continued to see myself as a failure.
The sweet doctor suggested fenugreek, Mother's Milk tea, and a beer a night. (Beau was jealous of that prescription, as well as super accommodating with it. Each night he'd hand me a beer and tell me to chug it down.)
While my milk increased, and the little guy started putting on weight, I still found myself wondering why I wasn't producing in abundance. I don't necessarily want to be sooting streams of milk across the room (how's that for a party trick?), I do want to be able to sit down a few hours after putting Little Man to bed and pump enough for a bottle for when we go out, when my mom babysits when I teach my night class at the college, etc.
I'm not having much success with that.
And so, tonight I baked some "Lactation Cookies" that are chock full of milk enhancing ingredients. And chocolate chips. Those seemed like a necessity.
While I have no idea if the cookies will work, I'm pretty excited to eat them. I'll report back on whether or not they do what they are supposed to do.
In the meantime, I wanted to share my recipe with you in case you have a moment where you feel the weight of abject failure, or know anyone who has feelings along those lines. If I'd have known that oatmeal chocolate chip cookies would, in theory, cure me, I'd have started eating them ages ago!
Bonus points if you wear the cutest baby ever when baking these.
Chocolate chip oatmeal lactation cookies--adapted from food.com
1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
3 T. water (recipe calls for more, but three seemed enough)
2 T flax seed meal
1.5 t. vanilla
2 c. flour (I did even parts white and whole wheat)
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt (I omitted this because I used salted butter)
3 c. oats (don't use instant oats if you are trying to increase production)
1 c. chocolate chips (I don't actually measure these. I just dump 'em in until it looks like there are enough chips.
1.5 T. fenugreek (recipe calls for 2-4 T brewers years instead. I could't find any at The Fresh market, I started breaking open little fenugreek capsule instead...)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix flaxseed meal and water. Let sit for 2-5 minutes.
In a larger mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars well, then add eggs and continue to mix.
Add flaxseed/water mixture and vanilla, and continue beating.
Sift together flours, fenugreek (or brewer's yeast if available), baking soda, ad salt if desired, then add this mixture to the mixing bowl.
Stir in the oats and the chips, then scoop them onto cookie sheets and bake for 12 minutes.
Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then sit back and enjoy the spoils of your labor.