Issues with breast milk coming in and low milk supply are very common in the postpartum period. From the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) perspective, breast milk is best produced when our bodies have plenty of energy (qi) and blood to spare and both of those substances are circulating freely. If that doesn’t sound like you immediately after giving birth, you certainly are not alone.
Giving birth is an incredibly taxing physical feat, even in the most uncomplicated circumstances. We are often expected to spring back to “normal” life very shortly after giving birth, and we often don’t give ourselves the time to recover from the amazing, exhausting task of growing a human and bringing them into this world.
In traditional Chinese culture, new parents are often encouraged to spend at least the first month after birth in confinement – this is a time to rest, to bond with baby, and be nourished with foods and herbs specifically tailored to postpartum recovery. They are encouraged to stay warm and to eat warming foods, as the process of giving birth is incredibly depleting. This recovery period allows them to rebuild her energy and physical reserves, which in turn can help with breast milk production.
Although we may not all have the time or ability to take this month-long recovery period, there are certainly ways that we can nourish ourselves to help rebuild our bodies after giving birth. One of my favorite recipes for the postpartum period helps to support this recovery, and has the added benefit of containing several potent galactagogues: oats and almonds. This recipe makes enough oats for 4 days (and can be scaled up) to make mornings easier with your new little one.
- 1 cup of steel-cut oats
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 2 cups of water
- Pinch of salt
Add before serving:
- Sprinkle of Ceylon cinnamon
- Honey to taste
- Add the coconut oil to a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. When the oil has melted, add the oats and toast them for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. The oats are toasted when they begin to smell a bit like popcorn and are pleasantly golden brown.
- Add the almond milk and water to the pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent oats from sticking to the bottom of the pot. When the oats have reached the desired consistency, split the oats into four portions and store in the refrigerator.
- Oats may be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave, and you may add additional almond milk at this time to reach the correct consistency if they oats have thickened too much in the refrigerator. Top with cinnamon and honey and enjoy!
About the ingredients:
Oats: From a TCM perspective, oats build energy (qi) and blood and help to circulate energy through the body. They are an ideal postpartum food, as they are energetically warming and strengthen the digestive organs.
Almonds: In TCM herbal theory, nuts help to strengthen the reproductive organs and restore the body’s overall energy. Almonds, in particular, are used to help to moisten the body, which can help with recovery from childbirth.
Cinnamon: This is a common Chinese herb. It is very warming and helps to support the body by building energy and increasing circulation. Be sure to use true (ceylon) cinnamon, rather than the more common cassia in order to get the full benefits of this amazing herb!
Honey: This is a great Chinese herb used to build energy. It is also considered to be moistening, which helps with postpartum recovery, as fluids and blood are lost during childbirth and immediately postpartum.
Coconut: Can help to build energy and moisten dryness. Coconut works well with the other ingredients due to these TCM properties.