Relactation is bringing back your milk supply after it has stopped or significantly decreased.
Is it even possible?
This is a question we get a lot – “I’ve stopped breastfeeding and now I want to try again. Is it too late?” The short answer is that yes, it’s possible and no, it’s not too late. Here are the questions that you want to consider:
Am I willing to go through this process?
Can I be patient and give myself grace?
How to relactate
The process boils down to the same factors that helped your milk to increase at the start: milk removal and breast stimulation. This is going to look different depending on the age and ability of your baby. Is baby able to latch to the breast in a comfortable way? If this is the case, it can help to use at-breast supplementing to convince baby to stay at the breast for longer times.
Usually, this process does involve pumping. Milk expression is essential and the pump may be your first tool to start the process. The rule of thumb for expression is at least 8 times in each 24 hour period, not going longer than 5 hours between expressions. In addition to pumping, hand expression is an incredible way to stimulate your milk supply!
Power pumping can be an effective tool, but only if it works for you. There are other ways to get in extra expression, so power pumping is not mandatory.
When you’re pumping you will want to consider the quality of your pump, the fit of the flanges, and your pump parts. It’s a good idea to make sure that your parts are fresh and in good condition. The flange fit is vital, as too small or too large can cause pain and reduced milk.
For the pump itself, a double electric is a must so you can express both breasts at the same time. If you do not have access to a quality personal pump, you can consider renting a multi-user pump from a local hospital.
Before starting this journey, it’s important to understand that milk production increases bit by bit. It takes consistent expression and stimulation to tell your body that you really do want a full milk supply! This is where you want to think about why you stopped lactating in the first place. Was it due to an emergency? Were there latching problems? Was it difficult to fit breastfeeding into your family’s life?
Your homework: ask yourself how this process can fit into your daily life. Are you prepared to give yourself patience and grace?
What about supplements?
There is no magic pill. There is a medication that can help with lactation, but it is not legal to prescribe in the United States. People often obtain it from overseas and we would strongly caution anyone who is considering this. Medications come with side effects and your provider can discuss your personal risk factors. Often, providers will offer Reglan to help increase the milk-making hormone prolactin. It is important to have a conversation with your provider about all of the risks and benefits.
There are many over-the-counter lactation pills and powders as well as herbal remedies. What worked for someone else might not work for you. This is because these remedies work in different ways and should be carefully chosen.
If you’re considering lactation cookies/treats, you won’t see them recommended on this page. The ingredients that promote supply are minimal and they come with a hefty dose of sugar – which can work against your body in it’s quest to make milk.
Your best bet
Eat well, focusing on foods that truly nourish your body! A plus is that foods like leafy greens, proteins, and nourishing foods that can balance your blood sugar can help your body to make more milk. Drink plenty of water, enough to cover your thirst. Electrolytes are important and this is where coconut water really wins the day.
Milk production can involve a lot of factors and relactation has a lot of moving parts. It may seem stressful or difficult at first, and that’s ok. An experienced IBCLC can guide you through this process. The great news is that Magnolia Lactation can help you with everything from your pumping plan to flange fitting to assessing your unique history. This is what we do, in person and virtually, and we love it. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help on this journey.
Lactation consultants serving Baton Rouge, Denham Springs, Walker, Prairieville, Gonzales, Central, and Zachary. Whether you had your baby at Woman’s Hospital, a birth center, home birth, Baton Rouge General, Ochsner, or Lane – we serve you!
Virtual consults are available for all locations.
All information on this website is intended for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Magnolia Lactation Consulting encourages all families to have close communication with the medical providers of their choice.