Sunday, September 10, 2017

Awaiting Ada: Lactation Brownies

And we're back with another "getting ready for baby" post! Today I'm sharing the results of a recent baking experiment.

When The Bird was born, my sweet mama made me a gigantic batch of delicious lactation boosting cookies. Having that little sweet treat ready for me when I needed a pick me up was SO NICE that I knew I wanted to have similar treats ready again this time 'round.

I'd seen the idea of "lactation brownies" floating around, but hadn't found a recipe that I loved. So, I decided to attempt to create my own with my preferred galactagogues - and they worked!

Before I go on, let me answer a few questions you may be asking yourself:
  1. What exactly is a lactation cookie/brownie?
    • Short answer: a treat that helps increase breast milk production or quality
    • More detailed answer: a baked good that includes one or more of a selection of galactagogues, designed to work with your body to amp up milk production (by providing key nutrients or triggers) or to improve the quality of your milk (by boosting your body's stores of needed nutrients)
  2. What on earth is a "galactagogue?"
    • Any substance that helps to increase milk supply. Commonly used galactagogues include: fenugreek, fennel, flax seed, blessed thistle, Goat's Rue, alfalfa, oats, garlic, ginger, cinnamon...and many others.
  3. Do they actually work?
    • It depends on who you ask. Galactagogues work best in conjunction with increasing nursing frequency and milk removal (production is a supply and demand game after all), so they aren't miracle snacks that will just *poof* give you more milk. However, when combined with a change in routine or an increase in pumping frequency, they do tend to provide at least a temporary boost in output!
    • Note, also, that different herb and supplements work differently for different mamas, so you have to find what works for you. For example, I cannot handle fenugreek (probably the most popular herb used in milk-boosting recipes). I respond MUCH better to brewer's yeast! I only know this info through experimentation, however, so I recommend trying different things to see what works for you!
    • In addition, many experts will say that lactation treats are too full of "bad for you" things to do any real good...but I consider a mood boost a good thing, so... #bringonthetreats!
    • At the end of the day, they may work, they may not. But they're yummy and have at least SOME good for you things packed into them, so I'm calling it a newborn haze win!
Now that we've cleared some of that up, let's move on to the recipe! As I mentioned above, I have a preferred set of supplements that I found work for me, so those are what I've used in this recipe. Hopefully they work for you, too, but feel free to play around with others if you have some different herbs you prefer!

The Ingredients
  • I need things to be "going on 2 hours of sleep" easy, so I start with a boxed brownie mix - just pick your favorite kind provided it's the 9x13 pan size!
  • I then add my favorite supplements: 
    • Brewer's Yeast: full of protein, iron, B vitamins, and phytoestrogens; also helps boost energy and mood
      • Note: will give your treats a slightly bitter taste, but I kinda like it
    • Ground Flax Seed: contains good essential fatty acids
    • Steel Cut Oats: good source of iron and protein; plus, the saponins tell the pituitary gland to help make more milk
    • Cinnamon: no clue why it works, but it's yummy
    • Cocoa Mocoa Powder: made from ancient grain protein (amaranth, quinoa, and pea), some coconut, and come coffee flour, it's a nice protein boost that also packs a yummy flavor punch. 
  • I also bump up the chocolate a little with some dark chocolate cocoa powder, dark chocolate chips, and vanilla (which does A LOT to highlight the chocolate). 
  • Then, I add in butter (the real stuff, y'all), coconut oil, egg yolks, and water. 

This produces a rich, semi-dense, chewy yet fudgey brownie, which is my preference. If you prefer your brownies to be more cake like, replace the oil with butter and use whole eggs! I played around with the ratios on this a few times and this recipe seems to result in the best texture for what I like.

I made up a couple of large batches, wrapped them in plastic wrap in bundles of two, and popped them in the freezer. They should keep for a good while that way (and be easy to grab and enjoy whenever I need them).

Treats like this aren't designed to be eaten in large quantities or on a regular basis (as you don't want to OVER do it and end up in pain). However, one or two a day when you need the occasional boost should do the trick. 

If you try these, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Let me know if you made changes or what worked for you!

Double Dark Chocolate Lactation Brownies


  • 1 box brownie mix
  • 1/4 cup brewer's yeast
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup steel cut oats (I use the "quick cook" variety or pre-soak them)
  • 2 tbsp dark cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp Cocoa Mocoa powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature


  • Preheat your oven to 350F and prepare a 9x13 pan by spraying with non-stick spray or lining with parchment paper. 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the brownie mix, brewer's yeast, flax seed, oats, cocoa powders, and cinnamon. 
  • Add in the melted butter, coconut oil, vanilla, and water, mixing on low to combine. Add in the yolks, one at a time and mix again on low til combined. Batter will be thick.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out. 
  • Bake for 28 min - do not overbake!
  • Allow to cool before slicing, then cut into 15-16 squares. 


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Awaiting Ada: Labor Prep

Oh hey, y'all. It's been a minute, huh? Pregnancy got the most of me this time around, but I'm finally feeling back up to writing a bit. As I dip my toes back in to the blog world, I thought I'd share a bit about our last minute prep before Little Miss makes her appearance.

Sound good? Good. Here goes...

So, I’m going to try for a med-free labor this time around. I’m crazy, I know. But there are…extenuating circumstances (a story for another time, but it’s mainly concern over how my intestines will react to labor and wanting to feel how much strain I’m putting on my body).

To get ready, I’ve been reading up on calming techniques and how to manage pain without meds. As has happened more and more since The Bird was born, I keep coming back to essential oils. I have loved creating custom blends and balms for baby girl when she needs it, so why not try it for myself?

I kept my bag of tricks relatively simple: some smelling salts, some compress sprays, and some after-care products. I’m excited to see how these fare in the fray of things, but I have high hopes! Below is a quick recap of my stash.

Smelling Salts

Why Salts? 
I wanted some form of inhalant (since most of the benefits you get from oils is due to their aromatic qualities), and smelling salts are particularly suited to help with labor as they encourage deeper breathing. They stimulate your nasal passages and trigger the inhalant reflex, meaning you breathe deeper as you sniff – increasing oxygen flow and alertness!

Basic Recipe: Epsom Salts, Sea Salt, and Essential Oil Blends

My Choices:
  • “Calm” Blend: Lavender + Chamomile + Lemon
    • Plan to use it early, to keep anxiety and nerves at bay. Also anticipate it being useful later when sleep is fleeting
  • “Energize” Blend: Peppermint + Orange
    • Plan to use it when I’m feeling exhausted, weak, or just done with the whole process
  • “Ouch” Pain Relief Blend: Lavender + Bergamot + Frankincense
    • Plan to use it when contractions get intense and I need to remember to breathe

Compress Sprays

Why Sprays? 
Warm compresses have been a go-to this pregnancy, and I’m hoping they’ll continue to prove useful during labor. I’m packing several washcloths and will have The Boy run them under warm (or cool) water then spritz them with the appropriate blend when I need some relief. They’ll also be good for spritzing on my back for counter-pressure massage.

Basic Recipe: Carrier Oil, Witch Hazel, and Essential Oil Blends

My Choices:
  • “Breathe Baby” Labor blend: Lemon + Bergamot + Chamomile
    • To use with cool compresses on the back of my neck when I’m losing steam or need a break (should encourage alertness and calm)
  • “Cramp Calm” Labor blend: Lavender + Bergamot + Frankincense
    • To use with warm compresses on my belly when contractions are intense (should be calming and provide some pain relief)
  • “Push Prep” Labor blend: Geranium + Helichrysum 
    • To use with warm compresses as I prepare to push (should provide pain relief and has skin healing & repairing benefits)
  • “Peri Pamper” Aftercare blend: Frankincense + Lavender + Helichrysum
    • To use post-labor to soothe, heal, and tone 

Bath Sands

Why Sands? 
Because bath balls require a mold and drying time. But really, the sands allow me to customize how much I scoop into a bath depending on what I need. I plan on using these once home from the hospital as I heal and recover.

Basic Recipe: Baking Soda, Citric Acid, Arrowroot Powder, Epsom Salts, Coconut Oil, Witch Haze, and Essential Oil Blends

My Choices:
  • “Cramp Calm” Cramping/Pain Relief Blend: Lavender + Bergamot + Frankincense
    • For those early days when everything still hurts like crazy
  • “Soothing Sands” Healing Blend: Frankincense + Lavender + Helichrysum
    • To help tone, soothe, and heal 
  • “Sleepy Sands” Calming Blend: Lavender + Chamomile + Vanilla
    • To help calm nerves and anxiety and encourage restful sleep (also, it’s toddler friendly!)

Bonus Item: Peri Prep Balm

Basic Recipe: Evening Primrose Oil, Shea Butter, Beeswax, and Essential Oils (Geranium + Frankincense)

This is a pre-labor item I plan to start using next week (around week 36). It's designed to to help prepare the body for labor by building skin elasticity and can prompt dilation.

Now, I feel compelled to add: I am NOT an aromatherapist and cannot vouch for any of the above as legitimate. I do have a good friend who is a certified RA, and I consult with her regularly as I mix and use oils. I recommend finding a source of information you trust and reading up on oils and their uses before jumping in. I’ve done TONS of research over the past year and I had no clue how much I didn’t know! Only certain oils are safe for different ages/conditions/uses, and it’s important to use them with caution. I share this in case others find it interesting, but with that disclaimer: do your own research!

I’ll report back with how all of this goes – could be a rousing success, could be that I don’t even touch them at the hospital. We’ll see!

Getting SO excited to meet this baby girl! Can’t wait to tell y’all all about it!