There could be several reasons why women stop breastfeeding and would want to start again. Relactation refers to building a milk supply after you have stopped breastfeeding for weeks or even months (1). Now, if you are wondering why would a mother want to start breastfeeding again, I can give you a few reasons. a) They might have struggled with nursing during the initial weeks after birth and decided to give up, but might want to try again now since things are more settled and their body has also recovered from childbirth. b) They might have received the wrong information and weaned off too early. And c) there are a few parents who would have decided to give formula milk from the very beginning, then found out that their baby doesn’t tolerate it well.
Whatever your reason may be, you can always try your hand again at breastfeeding. Though every woman may not have the same success rate, having even partial milk supply can have a huge impact on your baby’s overall health and wellbeing. Here’s how you can do it.
1. Have Patience And Be Consistent At It
You may have to pump, breastfeed, and supplement your baby at the beginning of the process. It is important to not give up hope and realize that it may take longer than expected for the milk supply to really kick in. Until then, do everything you can and be positive that things will work out.
2. Stimulate Your Breasts
We all know breastfeeding works on demand and supply. So the more often you feed or pump milk, the more milk will be produced by your breasts. Offer your breasts for approximately half an hour every 2-3 hours and make sure you nurse from both breasts (2). You don’t have to always time your breastfeeding, but the more you do it the better. You can also use a breast pump to get the flow going and stimulate your breasts. Use a pump whenever you are free and have a few minutes to spare. It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 or 20 minutes. You may not get enough milk in the beginning, but the more you pump, the higher the chances that your body will start producing more milk. Until then, feed your baby whatever milk you are getting and also supplement with formula or donated breastmilk.
3. Be Ready To Experiment
Be flexible to try different approaches if one isn’t working. If your baby is not latching properly, try different breastfeeding positions and see what is comfortable for both you and your baby. Research as much as you can, discuss with your doctor or seek help from a lactation consultant.
4. Help Your Baby Transition Back To Breastfeeding
If it’s been a while since you stopped breastfeeding, your baby may have become accustomed to bottle feeding. Realize that it may take some time to transition back to your breasts. Give your baby lots of skin-to-skin time and make sure your baby is in a comfortable position while you are feeding.
5. Check Your Baby’s Diaper For Any Changes
Breastfed babies will have bright or mustard yellow color poop that may be a bit runny. Formula-fed babies will have orange or greenish tan color poop (3). So looking at your baby’s poop will help you identify how much breastmilk he/she is getting. Keeping track of their bowel movements will also help you understand if they are getting enough milk.
6. Accept All The Support You Can Get
Emotional support is good, but if you get any practical help from your friends, husband, or family, take it. Building back your milk production can be time-consuming and challenging, so even a little help goes a long way. You can talk to your doctor, buy an electrical pump, or work with a lactation consultant to bring back your milk supply.
You can also discuss with your doctor and consider taking herbal supplements or medications for successful breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is the same whether it’s your first time or if you have started again after stopping. It takes time, effort, and a lot of patience. So make sure you get into it with a positive outlook before embarking on this journey again.