Relactation and what you need to know about starting to breastfeed again!
Re-lactation may take a couple of weeks. It is the process of bringing back your milk supply even after stopping breastfeeding after a period of time.
This is specific to women that have lactated before, even if they never breastfed. For some people, it may take as long as they have been away from breastfeeding to be able to have a full supply again.
However, on average, it takes about 1-2 weeks, but some women have re-lactated YEARS after stopping breastfeeding.
The first step is to frequently empty breasts and having frequent skin-to-skin with your baby.
Skin-to-skin is the process of you and your baby having skin-to-skin contact to help calm/soothe, increase milk supply, regulate heart rate, and help with many other aspects to you and your baby's health. This will help your baby to innately search for your breast and stimulate the nipples as well as stimulate the hormone prolactin which will increase milk supply.
We do recommend trying to breastfeed (vs pumping) if you can because breastfeeding will help increase supply quicker.
This is because of two reasons:
1) The way your baby is able to empty the breast is more effective than pumping and 2) it creates better stimulation of the nipples to then increase supply.
If you are planning on trying to breastfeed, make sure you offer when your little one is in a good mood or is sleepy. During this time more than any, they will have more patience, which is key since this is new for both of you and can be frustrating--especially if they are used to bottle feeding.
Expressing some milk first and then offering the breast is a good way to begin your let down and decrease the amount of work your baby might need to do at first.
They may get fussy partway through, if they get do, offer some formula to fill their bellies enough to calm down, then finish with breast. You can even pump after if you feel like you have some left, you want to make sure that your body knows your baby will need all that it can make.
Your baby might be used to the bottle and how quickly it comes out and breastfeeding can be frustrating, that is why we hand express to help them out. Also while on breast compress your breast tissues to help milk flow. You want to take your thumb and pointer finger and compress about 1-2 inches above the areola to help move your milk down and make their experience easier.
Make sure you are feeding or pumping 10-12 times in 24 hours and every 1-2 hours to really increase supply.
Power pumping may be an option to help quickly increase supply, to learn more, check out this blog post here!
Latching also may be difficult if your baby never quite got it before, we can also help you with your latch! Reach out to us and check out this blog post here!
Make sure to stay hydrated because you are going to be needing a lot more water to be making all of this milk.
Stay calm through this process, your baby can read your energy and stress levels. Also, stress directly affects your hormones and breastfeeding is based on a balance of hormones, so try and reduce stress as much as possible.
If you are thinking about re-lactating, don't wait until you run out of formula since it might take some time. If you are still bottle feeding and your baby won't take the breast, pump every time your little one feeds. This will regulate your supply to their feeding schedule.
Lastly, galactagogues may help but only with frequent feedings. You also want to be cautious because many have adverse side effects. For example with fenugreek, many women experience increase sweatiness, urine that smells like maple syrup, diarrhea, asthma, and can lower blood sugar. To learn more, check out our blog post on galactagogues here!
Are you looking to increase supply or even start it back up?
Are you affected by the formula shortage and need support to be able to feed your baby?
Reply and send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org, we would love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading and as always...
Your health today is a LIFETIME of health for you AND your baby.
Until next time!
Coaches Cassie and Mikayla
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