We will offer two routes to relactate, a combination of nursing and pumping or exclusively pumping. This will depend on your preference, if your baby was latching before weaning, and if you would like to re-introduce latching your baby.
First, let’s get some information in about how re-lactation works, and what it can mean for you.
- Relactation is when someone restarts breastfeeding after a gap. She may have not breastfed for several days, weeks, months or years. Relactation is not easy. It may or may not work for you. Women who relactate because of the emotional benefits of nursing generally feel more successful than those who focus on their milk supply. In a survey of women who attempted relactation, 75% felt it had been a positive experience.
- The younger the baby, the more likely he will be willing to resume breastfeeding. Babies under 3 months old have the best success. Babies over 6 months old tend to be less willing, however babies who have previously breastfed are more willing to resume.
- Some babies love getting back to breastfeeding, and some are resistant. Enjoy other opportunities to hold and cuddle your baby, and enjoy skin to skin bonding for all babies, any time you can!
Resources and Links for Information
For Moms who will nurse & pump:
Commit 2 weeks to making breastfeeding your main concern. The amount of time it takes to relactate depends on how long it has been since you stopped. About half of the women who successfully relactated had a full milk supply within a month. The others took over one month or offered formula also.
How should I start?
- Offer the breast for 20-30 minutes every 2-3 hours.
- Try to nurse on both sides.
- If baby is not willing to breastfeed often, use a double electric pump to express milk and stimulate milk production.
- Nurse before, after and between feedings for as long as the baby is willing – no matter how much formula is given.
- Pump directly after feeding your baby, 4-6x a day.
Times and Places to Try Breastfeeding
- when the baby is not too hungry or too sleepy.
- when the baby is asleep or relaxed.
- while walking.
- in the bathtub.
- in a darkened room.
- in a place that is free of distractions for mother and baby.
- while rocking in a rocking chair.
- while soothing music is playing.
- in a sling with skin-to-skin contact.
- Give the baby lots of skin-to-skin contact.
- Spend more time each day stroking and cuddling.
- Use a sling or baby carrier to keep baby close between feedings.
- Take baths together.
- Sleep together.
- Apply milk to the nipple and areola to encourage baby to latch on.
- Talk to the baby.
- Keep breastfeeding pleasant so baby will associate nursing with positive feelings.
- Be patient.
- Supplement at the breast.
Changes you May Experience
- Breasts may become more full and tender.
- Areolas may get darker.
- You may experience mood changes due to hormones.
- Menstrual patterns may change.
- Milk supply may decrease for a couple days before and at the start of menstrual periods. Tender breasts and mood changes are common at this time as well.
For Moms who will exclusively pump:
- Use a pump or hand express for 10-15 minutes on each breast several times a day. Ideally, at least eight times in 24 hours. Pumping both breasts at once puts out more milk signals.
- Expressing once at night will provide extra stimulation as this is when levels of milk-making hormones are highest. This also means that you don’t go for a long period without pumping.
- Don’t worry in the early stages about how much (or little!) milk you are able to express – the nipple stimulation itself will be stimulating your body to produce more milk for the future.
- Some mums choose to rent a hospital-grade double electric breast pump.
- You may get milk immediately, but if you don’t… don’t give up! It may take some women only a few days to develop their supply. Others pump for several weeks before they see a significant increase in their supply. Everyone responds differently to the process of relactation, so it’s very difficult to give a definite timeframe.
- Keep the baby on or close to your body as much as possible (perhaps using a sling).
- You can bottle feed skin-to-skin and near the breast.
- Do breast compressions when you pump. Breast compressions help push milk out of your milk ducts, and the more milk you can remove, the more success you’ll have at building a milk supply.
- Try hand expression. A lot of women don’t respond well to a breast pump but do have success with hand expression. Watch a few videos on YouTube to get the idea and then see if it works for you.
- Try warm compresses. Warmth seems to get breast milk flowing, so a warm compress like a warm washcloth, Booby Tubes, or a warming lactation massager can be helpful.
Resources and Links for Information
Relactation Pumping Schedules
Below is a sample relactation pumping schedule where you’re pumping 8 times per day, and waking up once at night to pump breast milk. The break between 10pm and 3am will hopefully give you enough time to get through one full sleep cycle in the beginning of the night, which can help with sleep deprivation.
6am, 8am, 11am, 2pm, 4pm, 7pm, 10pm, 3am
If you’re very focused on relactation and don’t mind waking up twice at night to pump, here is a schedule with 11 pumping sessions:
6am, 8am, 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, 8pm, 10pm, 2am, 4am
Finally, a schedule without a middle of the night wakeup (though this may be less effective):
5am, 7am, 10am, 12pm, 3pm, 5pm, 8pm, 11pm
During this unique time, The Organic Southerner is offering free lactation and relactation consults via video chat, phone, and in home visits (newborns only, pay what you can.)
If any of this information seems overwhelming, confusing, or you are still not sure where to start, please reach out to us. We will help you in any way we can, and we thank you for your support to the babies who need donor milk through this formula shortage. We are most powerful when we work together!
Call or Text 229 – 340 – 3009
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