Did you know that it is possible to start lactating again after hitting pause on your breastfeeding journey? For many different reasons people end their breastfeeding journeys earlier than they planned or hoped to. In many cases new parents don’t have the support they need to get their feeding journey off to a good start. For others they may have been advised to stop due to a medical procedure or medication. In other instances people choose to relactate to produce milk for another child that is coming into their life for example via surrogacy or adoption. Read on for Relactating After Hitting Pause on your Breastfeeding Journey..
There’s been a lot of discussion around relactation since the beginning of the formula shortage. It’s important to understand that while it’s possible to relactate, it’s not realistic, feasible, or desirable for everyone.
Relactating isn’t easy. It takes consistency and skilled support to relactate. It’s also important to note that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Combination feeding can be a wonderful way to find a balance that works for everyone.
Addressing Stumbling Blocks
Prior to beginning your relactation journey it’s important to take a look at what happened when you initially paused your lactation journey. For many women, they may prematurely end their lactation journey after struggling with low supply. If you are a Mama that struggled with low supply it’s important to work with a knowledgeable lactation professional that can help determine the cause of low supply. In many cases there is an underlying reason for low supply that can be reversed. For others there may be an irreversible cause of low supply and taking this into consideration can help to set you up for realistic expectations.
Assemble Your Team
While having skilled lactation support is key, it truly takes a village. Relactating is time consuming and can be both emotionally and physically taxing. Ask family members to support you with household tasks and childcare. Reach out to local Mom groups and breastfeeding groups to find peer support. Consider reaching out to a therapist who can support you to process any feelings that may be coming up around breastfeeding.
Every Drop Counts
The process of relactation can be very slow. Milk supply during relactation builds slowly, much slower than it does after giving birth. It may be faster if it’s only been a few weeks since you hit pause on your lactation journey. It could be much slower if it’s been a couple of years. Don’t be discouraged if initially you only are getting a few drops. Give yourself grace.
Frequent and effective milk removal is key to relactating and building a milk supply. In most cases pumping will be a big part of the relactation journey. You will need to pump 8-10 times per day including at least once overnight. You will need to invest in a high quality pump. Inquire with your insurance company about what coverage you have for a breast pump or consider renting one for a few months. Ensure you are using properly fitted flanges and don’t forget the lubrication! I also recommend picking up a well fitting pumping bra.
Supporting Baby to Latch
This will take time and patience. It’s possible to have older babies that have never breastfed before latch but it’s a process. Having an abundant milk supply often makes babies more keen to latch.
Spend lots of time skin to skin and allow your baby to have lots of low pressure access to the breast. Let them be curious. They may latch spontaneously. Allow them to watch you express some milk.
When you are ready to try assisting your baby to latch, try to stimulate a let down first. Express a few drops of milk so that your baby can taste the milk immediately when they latch on. Babies who have primarily bottle fed are not used to having to wait for the milk to let down.
Be Kind to Yourself
Every family’s feeding journey is unique.
If you are considering trying to relactate, reach out to your Local Mama Coach for a comprehensive assessment, care plan and support on your journey.