Relactation

Relactation - Transcript

Many people believe that once you’ve stopped breastfeeding, surely there could be no possibility of going back again, if you’ve already started giving formula for instance to your baby? The truth is that it IS possible to relactate and to get that supply back in again. If you have already established your milk supply in the past, then your chances of getting that milk back in are strong.

So generally the younger you baby is, the easier it is to relactate – but even for those babies who are older, maybe a few months old, there is still possibility, and it will all depend on the determination that you have. It’ll also depend on your interplay of hormones as well. Of course any amount of milk that you make is great for your baby. So some people who relactate, and they only get a small amount of milk, then that is still offering immunities to your baby.

So how do you relactate? If your baby is able to come to the breast, happy to attach again and to suckle, then bring him to the breast as often as you can. If you can, at least every two to three hours, but more than that, bring him to the breast for comfort, for warmth, just to chill out, and also to get your supply established. All of that will in effect boost your supply.

Your baby is hardwired to breastfeed in the same way that you are. They used to think that if babies were given too many bottles, then they’d forget what to do at the breast – but your baby is hardwired to do it. So that is a confidence booster to know that given the right circumstances, your baby can start to feed again.

Bear in mind that when your baby does come to the breast, especially if he has been used to having a lot of bottles, easy access to milk, can sometimes cause babies to start fussing at the breast as soon as flow starts to slow. So use breast compressions – an excellent technique to push milk out to him. This will cause your body to make more milk, as well as him getting more.

It’s also, I feel, really essential to do as much skin to skin as you can. So strip your baby down to his nappy, lie him against your bare chest, and spend at least a couple of hours per day, if not more, that is going to boost the hormones that make milk, particularly the prolactin hormone. All of this will also keep you both calm and connected so that your baby will have lots of practice latching and suckling at the breast again. It will also encourage his natural pre-feeding behaviours and innate reflexes for latching.

If however you find that despite the laid back positioning, and the skin to skin, and offering the breasts as often as you can, your baby is still not latching, you may wish to try using a nipple shield. This is a thin silicon shield that fits over the nipple and the areola area. Often that shield can act as a ‘super stimulus’ to aid the actual latch, and often babies who are not latching at all will latch with the aid of a nipple shield.

If however you find that even with these measures your baby is still not latching right now – hire a hospital grade double pump. This can be such a useful tool to encourage your body to make all the milk that your baby needs, to start to boost that supply back up again.

If you find that even with the hospital grade pump your body doesn’t appear to be making as much milk you would have expected, then have a look at the video relating to some other possible causes of low milk supply, and work on those things too.

As you start to see your breast milk volume increasing, you may wish to consider some alternative ways to feed your baby, particularly the use of a supplemental nursing system. This can be a really useful tool to keep all of the sucking at the breast, while your body starts to make more milk. Your baby can be given a supplement at the same time as feeding at the breast.

With this type of alternative method your baby does all of the sucking at the breast, and even supplements can be given there too. And many women do consider also the use of what they call galactogogues which are any substances that can help to increase your milk supply. Have a look at the videos relating to galactogogues because you can buy herbal varieties or get prescribed galactogogues too. However, all of these things should only be taken if you are doing ALL of those other things to boost supply.

Finally please seek out all the support you can while you’re trying to relactate, not only from a skilled health professional or breastfeeding counsellor or IBCLC who can support you in your journey with this, but also from your family and your friends, who will also need to be understanding of your efforts here – and remember that every drop of milk that you make will be of benefit to your baby.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

V1 published June 2017. Next review date: April 2020

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