If you have stopped breastfeeding and is quite keen on bringing your little one back to the breast, then don’t lose hope mama, because there’s a good chance that you can do so via relactation.
Relactation is the process of breastfeeding after a period of no or very little breastfeeding. It’s akin to training both your body — to produce sufficient milk, and your baby — to properly latch again in order to breastfeed once more. According to several studies, a majority of moms can partially or fully relactate with the proper guidance and support.
To get you started on your relactation journey, here are a few simple tips:
Start building back your milk supply.
Your milk supply might have suffered during the period that you’ve stopped breastfeeding. And you need to boost it again if you want to meet your baby’s milk needs. You can do so by pumping or hand expressing regularly or at least 8 to 12 times per day, for 20 to 30-minute sessions. Quite simply, pump or hand express every 2 to 3 hours during the day, and once or twice at night. Regularly expressing milk and emptying your breasts will tell your body to produce more milk.
Spend more skin-to-skin time with your baby.
Skin-to-skin time with your baby basically means cradling your baby with the most skin-to-skin contact possible — no clothes in between. Studies have proven that skin-to-skin contact stimulates your baby’s feeding reflexes and it also gives him the opportunity to latch on so he can personally stimulate your milk supply too.
Keep baby well fed.
A hungry baby is a cranky baby, so offering your breast to him at this state might be stressful to both of you. So keep your baby well fed so that he will be more receptive when you introduce him back to the breast. Once your milk supply goes up, then he would need less supplemental feedings and will spend more time on your breast. Also, be mindful of your baby’s dirty diapers and weight gain to ensure that he is getting enough milk.
Cut back on artificial teats.
If your baby is using a pacifier, try to limit his use. Instead of a pacifier, try to offer your breast instead as his comforter. At the same time, you can also consider cup feeding instead of milk bottles for his supplemental feedings. Doing so can help him go back to the breast, instead of artificial teats.
Galactagogues are food, medicines, or herbs that can boost your milk supply, along with proper breast drainage. You can consider readily available galactagogues such as lactating cookies and snacks, but do consult your Doctor if you want to try out prescription medicines.
Drink water and relax.
This might sound basic, but a stressed and dehydrated mother might have a hard time producing sufficient milk. So relax and drink lots of water throughout the day.
Consult a breastfeeding specialist.
Aside from providing valuable tips on your relactation journey, a breastfeeding specialist can also provide insight on why your initial breastfeeding journey did not go exactly as planned. She can also provide you support in dealing with supply issues, and other difficulties you might encounter in this next phase of your breastfeeding journey.
Get support from loved ones.
Of course, just like in any motherhood phase, getting the right support from your loved ones can surely inspire and help you succeed. If your partner or family might have some doubts about relactating, explain it to them. Bring them with you when you consult with a breastfeeding specialist so that they will also understand the process.