Hi Mama!! Are you wondering if you can get your milk supply back after stopping? This is known as Relactation or Induced lactation. I get this question so often. You might have figured that once your milk supply started drying up you could not breastfeed anymore. Guess what?! That is not true, you can relactate or induce lactation even if you haven’t given birth. With that said, It isn’t always easy. It takes a lot of work, patience, consistency, determination, and support. Sometimes it only brings back a partial supply, other times it will come back fully, and then sometimes it may not come back at all. You got this, Mama!
There are many reasons why you may want to try and relactate. Some of which may include:
- You stopped sooner than intended
- Your baby doesn’t tolerate formula
- You changed your mind
- You are a LGBT Mama but didn’t carry the pregnancy and want to share the breastfeeding responsibility
- You’ve adopted a newborn babe
- You have a sick babe who could benefit from the health benefits
- You want to donate your milk to help other mama’s
The first question I always ask is “How long have you been dried up?” This is so important because typically the amount of time you have been dry is the amount of time it will take to relactate. Remember, this is going to take time. It can take up to 2 weeks for your mammary glands to even respond. Studies have shown, the younger the baby, the better your chances are at relactating.
So… The real question is HOW do I Relactate?? We know that breastfeeding is a supply and demand relationship between mom and baby. Stimulation and milk removal is key.
Here are some tips to get started:
- Hand Express or pump for 20-30 minutes every single time your baby takes a bottle. This looks like approximately 8-12 times a day and even in the night.
- If your baby will still latch on, plae baby to the breast before and after feeding. Think stimulation.
- If your baby is wanting to pacify, let them use you as a pacifier. This will stimulate your body to bring in more milk.
- Place baby skin to skin as often as possible. This helps to stimulate oxytocin, the hormone responsible for milk ejection.
- Give expressed or pumped milk via syringe, cup, or supplemental nursing system
- Make sure you are drinking lots and lots of water. At least 8-10 8oz cups a day.
- Avoid things that are drying: Peppermint, Antihistamines, Pain meds with Narcotics.
- Talk with your doctor, they can sometimes prescribe medications (galactagogues) to help. Food sources of galactagogues are barley, almonds, coconut, chickpeas, and sesame seeds.
- Seek help from a lactation consultant
Good Luck, Mama. You can do this with persistence, patience & lots of good support. Give yourself grace. If you have more questions or need support please reach out to one of your local Mama Coaches. We would love to help you find success in this journey.