Everything You Need To Know About Relactation

Breastfeeding is much more than just a method of feeding your baby, it is a special relationship and bond between mother and child.

Breastfeeding is much more than just a method of feeding your baby, it is a special relationship and bond between mother and child. If breastfeeding finishes earlier than expected, some mothers can feel a great sense of loss and may long to go back to breastfeeding as time passes.
Returning to breastfeeding is possible and has two factors: bringing back a mother’s milk supply, known as relactation, and getting a baby to breastfeed again.

Relactation basics
Hand expressing or pumping an empty breast can bring back a milk supply by stimulating prolactin—one of the hormones involved in milk production. If your baby will latch on and breastfeed, this will be even more effective. Nipple stimulation and skin-to-skin contact help release oxytocin, another hormone needed for breastfeeding.

Pump or hand express
Pump or hand express at least eight to twelve times per day for 20-30 minutes so that you’re pumping every two to three hours during the day and once or twice at night. The more often you can express, the quicker your milk supply will respond. Consider hiring a hospital grade pump for more efficient breast drainage.

Skin-to-skin contact with your baby stimulates her natural feeding reflexes, gives her an opportunity to latch on and helps stimulate your milk supply too. 

Find a breastfeeding specialist
A breastfeeding professional can be invaluable to identify the reasons why breastfeeding didn’t get off to a good start the first time around or to find any other reasons why your breastfeeding journey may have ended sooner than you wanted so that you can avoid running into the same problems again. 

Keep baby well fed
Keep your baby well fed while you build your breast milk supply and introduce him back to the breast. A hungry baby will feel frustrated at an empty breast and a baby can’t be starved into latching on, they will only become weaker and less able to breastfeed. When your breast milk supply increases over a few days or weeks, your baby will naturally need less and less supplement.

Find a support circle
Finding a support circle of family, friends and other mothers who are relactating or breastfeeding can motivate, inspire and help you to succeed with relactation.

Physically latching and breastfeeding your baby is a very important part of relactation. A well-latched baby can bring in a milk supply all on his own and having her breastfeed will be very encouraging for mama.

Skin-to-skin and constant close contact
Again, lots of skin-to-skin contact next to your breasts, without pressure to latch, helps your baby to associate the breast as a safe, and happy place.
A sling can help keep baby close during the day and bathing together can create a rebirthing experience
Some babies latch when they are relaxed and sleepy or latch in their sleep. Sleeping close to your baby at night and at nap time can give more opportunities to latch.

Be patient
Never force your baby to the breast. Babies may touch, lick or nuzzle the nipple before they latch. Be patient. Dropping breast milk or formula on the areola towards the nipple can encourage a baby to lick the breast and latch (drop and drip). 
Make bottle feeds more like breastfeeds
If you do use bottles, try to make bottle feeding more like breastfeeding by using a slow flow teat, keeping baby upright, taking pauses in the feed, holding baby skin-to-skin and more.

Make breastfeeding more like bottle feeding
Using nipple shields can be helpful if baby won’t latch to a naked breast as the silicone shield will feel more like a familiar bottle teat. Make sure your baby is not desperately hungry while he practices otherwise he might associate the breast with frustration and hunger.

More breastfeeds means more breast milk
Once your baby will latch to the breast give them every opportunity to do so both as a comforter between feeds and for nutrition e.g. at least every two hours during the day and every four hours at night.
Night feeds are important for a milk supply as that is when prolactin levels are higher
Offering both breasts per feed also helps build supply

Keep offering
Ensure your baby is getting enough by offering them unlimited supplement after a breastfeed or via a nursing supplementer and check weight gain regularly.

Laura Doyle, Mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Writer and blogger at www.lovelifeandlittleones.com.

Laura Doyle

Mum of four, Gentle parent living on coffee and trying always to stay positive and motivate in the midst of the madness.

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