Advice on Relactation

relactation, relactate, increase supply, help, advice, how to

If you have followed my journey for a while, you will know that I had severe anxiety attacks after my birth with Cameron (now 3.5 years old) and weaned him from breastfeeding at a mere 1 week old because of medication and advice from health professionals.

What followed was a lot of guilt and it made recovery from postpartum depression and anxiety even more difficult. I didn’t really know what options I had and am very thankful to a child health nurse who asked if I was aware of re-lactation. By this point, it had only been three weeks but Cameron was used to the bottle and my milk had dried up due to lack of stimulation and stress.

Thank goodness for Google and an open mind. I researched and read and questioned and researched some more. I found a lactation consultant at a free clinic and whilst she hadn’t had any experience with relactation, she was willing to seek advice and provide me with information. I shared my journey at my side blog: Relactater.

What is relactation?

In short, it is re-establishing breastfeeding after stopping, or after a period of very little breastfeeding. Another related process is induced lactation (inducing lactation artificially – typically for adoption).

How likely am I to succeed?

There isn’t a lot of research on relactation, but the studies that have been done suggest that, with proper support, most mothers can partially or fully relactate.

—————————————————————————————-

I was very fortunate. I was able to go from expressing a couple of drops of breast milk to a full supply AND get Cameron back to the breast. It took a month, and lots of determination and effort but it was well worth it.

After relactating I nursed my son until I was 12 weeks pregnant with my daughter (my supply dropped to almost nothing) and Cam was almost 20 months old. Since then I have received emails, sometimes more than one a week, with desperate mamas wanting to relactate but feeling lost and wanting to find someone who has successfully relactated.

So this post is for them.. and all the future mamas who need the help, guidance, information and support. You can always email me at racheous [at] live .com.au to chat. I’m not an expert, just happy to share my experience.

Top 10 Relactation Tips

1. Do not forget the importance of drinking water and resting.

2. You are going to need supportive family, friends and healthcare professionals.

3. Galactagogue medication (Domperidone aka Motilium) helps your breastmilk production immensely. In some countries, this is not available anywhere but online. In Australia you can see your doctor for a prescription and advice.

4. Galactagogue supplements such as Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle can increase your supply.

5. Get a hospital grade double breast pump. I hired one through the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA).

6. Speaking of pumping, remember the #1 rule of breast milk production: supply = demand. Therefore, you need to pump more frequently than your baby is feeding and pump through the night (yes, really)

7. Skin on skin time with baby has been shown to be effective in helping breast milk production.

8. You can consider purchasing a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS, or Lactaid in the US). This is a device that feeds the baby extra milk at the breast (rather than by bottle) through fine tubes connected to a container worn on a cord around the mother’s neck. This adds stimulation for milk production as the baby sucks and can help bring a baby back to the breast.A Supplemental Nursing System can be used with either formula or breast milk (including donated breast milk*)Ensure you get the help of a lactation consultant, as it can be fiddly and hurt the babies mouth if used incorrectly.SNS, medela, lactaid, supplemental nursing system, relactation9. Make some lactation cookies. At the very least, they are delicious! The cookies are high in omega 3 (through the eggs and the linseed/flaxseed meal) which is proven to boost breast milk supply. Brewers Yeast is also meant to be a milk supply helper, and is high in protein.Brewers Yeast and Flaxseed/Linseed meal can be found at health food stores. Add your own subsitution for chocolate if you wish – e.g dried apricots, mashed banana, almonds/cashews, coconut, etc.lactation cookies, relactation, recipe, increase, breastmilk, suppy

10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Relactating takes time and effort out of an already exhausting day of raising a baby. Accept help! Anyone supporting a relactating mama should consider: baking a batch of lactation cookies, bringing over a meal, offering to help with other children and/or baby. Every bit helps.

Keep in mind: It is difficult, but it may be so worth it!

I don’t just want to breast-feed my son; I want to breast-nurture him. – Rachel in 2010

 

Relactation Resources:

The World Health Organization publication “Relactation: review of experience and recommendations for practice

world health organization, WHO, relactation

 

 

 

 
La Leche League (LLLI) page ‘Relactation’

Kelly Mom page ‘Relactation and Adoptive Breastfeeding

 

* I used donor breast milk for a few weeks while relactating. Lucy was also fed the breast milk of several generous milky mamas. I will do a separate post on this.

If you are interested in donating or receiving donor breast milk, Human Milk for Human Babies (HM4HB) or Eats on Feets are amazing organisations that help connect local families who have made the informed choice to share breastmilk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  1. Wow! That’s impressive! I have heard about relactation but I didn’t know anyone who had actually relactated. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your experience!

    • It was hard at the time not being able to find other mamas, even online, who had successfully relactated. I promised myself that when (not if, I was so determined) I succeeded, I would share my story to give others hope :) Thank you for your comment Cristina.

  2. I also suffered from postpartum anxiety AND had to relactate due to delayed milk onset from my c-section and baby’s birth weight dropping and therefore full on formula supplementation. I was not able to get domperidone, but I did use reglan, which is not as good because it can cause depression! I also used the SNS. My lactation consultant revealed to me later that she was actually quite surprised that I was able to come through with a full milk supply. I believe the postpartum anxiety bordered on PTSD. I’ve always been a happy, not super anxious person, so it really shocked me to have these flashbacks and panic. It’s still painful to write about, but maybe it’s time to give it a go on my blog. How is the La Leche League support in Australia? That is the only thing I would add to this post. :)

    • Wow Aubrey, that is incredible to find out you went through similar. I’m sorry you dealt with postpartum anxiety, it is so hard.

      In Australia we have the ABA (Australian Breastfeeding Association) which are fantastic. That is who I hired the pump through. I thought I linked to them, I will fix that now!

  3. Congratulations! I am a lactation consultant and this is not easy. How old was your baby when you began relactating? The amount of time you wait can also affect how soon you see results.

    • Thank you Martie, yes my son was only 5 weeks old when I started relactating and had only been having bottles for a little under a month. I was blessed and determined :) I appreciate your comment!

  4. I wish I knew there was such thing as relax stating sooner. I stopped breastfeeding my son when he was 2 weeks old as I started having symptoms of PND (had it with my first child, so recognised the signs/feelings) I felt so bad giving up, still do. My milk dried up within a week, even though I continued expressing. (mind you, not as often as I probably should have & I don’t think I emptied my breasts)
    My baby is 4 months now. Really wish I knew about this sooner.

    • I totally understand Shamarra, I know that guilt and was so lucky to have found out about relactation as an option when I did (less than a month after ceasing breastfeeding). Thank you for taking the time to comment :)

  5. I tried re lactating when my daughter was 5 months old. Shes now 6. I stooped breastfeed when she was 3 weeks old because I got REALLY sick and barely could hold her to feed her. But with lack of support I got really discouraged and gave up. I wanted so badly to breastfeed my daughter since she is our last and I was so uneducated with my previous three children.

  6. I would love some help. My cute baby is now 3 months old. I breastfeed him for the 1st week I was in so much pain baby and I both had thrush. Didn’t have much support with breastfeeding. This is my 3rd baby I breastfeed my 1st and the bottle with my 2nd. I started to pump last week every three hours and taking mother’s tea. I still haven’t seen much progress. I would really really like to breastfeed. What more should I do and do I have much of a chance to make this happen?

  7. Hi, loved reading your experience. Am currently still breastfeeding my 4month old son, but am having trouble with my right breast, as it produces very little due to too little outlets on nipple, I think. Any advice on what I can do, as this really frustrates my son that he does not want to waste his time on this breast, but is happy on left breast.

  8. I’ve heard of so many women doing this. My daughter weaned at 2 months old and is now 9 months old. Is it still possible for us to relactate and bf again even though it’s been so long? If so, how do I get her to latch on again?