Relactation is the process of producing breastmilk again after stopping. Many moms stop breastfeeding and pumping because they think they’re done for good or their baby is a year old.
But what if you miss the bonding time while breastfeeding? Or you want to breastfeed or pump beyond a year to give extra nutrients to your baby?
There are lots of reasons and benefits to begin lactation again after stopping!
It is possible to restart lactation with a lot of patience and dedication. Here’s 9 tried-and-true ways to induce relactation I’ve found to work the best!
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My Personal Story With Relactation
Like you, I thought I was done breastfeeding and pumping. I had 3 months’ worth of pumped breastmilk stored in a deep freezer. Unfortunately, I miscalculated and my 3-month breastmilk stash won’t last my baby till a year of age.
(It’s my personal goal to have my second born on breastmilk for at least a year).
Now, I’m working on the process of relactation! The list below is filled with 9 things I did to help increase the likelihood of building back up my milk supply. Although I still have a long way to go, (I had oversupply before stopping pumping/breastfeeding) I’m still proud of how far I’ve come with relactation!
Every drop of breastmilk is beneficial! I’m now exclusively pumping (no breastfeeding at night anymore) to restart lactation.
Things to remember:
- Not every remedy that worked for me will work for you!
- Relactation is a long process! Don’t be surprised to only be getting drops of breastmilk per day in the first few weeks. It takes time for your body to make milk again. For partial or full supply to return, it normally takes about a month or longer. Lots of dedication and patience is required!
Ways To Induce Relactation
It’s important to note that research has yet to point to flaxseed or flaxseed oil increasing breastmilk production. However, flaxseed can offer the following benefits to pumping/breastfeeding mamas:
- Increases ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) that converts to omega-3 in the body which are essential for milk production.
- Low amounts of fatty acids in the body could contribute to a lower milk supply. Those with low fatty acids could see an increase in milk with the consumption of flaxseed.
A few precautions about flaxseed: It contains a good amount of fiber. If you consume too much, the fiber in flaxseed could cause diarrhea. It’s always best to discuss how much flaxseed to consume for breastmilk production with your doctor.
Personally, I started consuming flaxseed every day when I made the decision to start relactation. My favorite way to add flaxseed to my diet is the following recipe:
3/4 cup Chobani Greek Yogurt
2 Tablespoons of ground or whole flaxseed
A handful of berries (strawberries, blueberries, ect.)
To everyone will like the amount of flaxseed in this recipe. It is a lot of flaxseed for a 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt. But I’ve found I love mixing flaxseed with Greek yogurt into almost a paste and just devouring it! Who knew?!
Related Articles: The Best Products For Exclusively Pumping Moms
This is one of the first items I added to my diet once I decided to start the relactation process. Plus, it’s one of the easiest and tastiest options to add! Unless of course, you don’t like oatmeal.
But oatmeal is perfect for trying to boost milk supply for relactation.
While research doesn’t specifically point to an increase in breastmilk supply because of oatmeal, many moms believe it does. Whether you believe the hype about oatmeal or not, oatmeal is filled with iron. Low iron can cause low milk supply often referred to as maternal anemia.
According to many breastfeeding/pumping moms, it doesn’t matter whether you drink oatmeal milk or eat steel-cut oats for breakfast… It still helps increase supply!
For relactation I immediately started eating oats every day. To make it easier for myself, I prepped a small mason jar of overnight oats and whatever fruit I had on hand. This makes it simple because I don’t have to think about breakfast for myself.
You can also add flaxseed to any oatmeal dish or homemade oatmeal cookies;)
Also, I snuck some no sugar added oatmeal cookies when my kiddos weren’t looking!
Have you heard the rumor of Bodyarmor drinks increasing breastmilk supply? It’s all over Pinterest and the secret is out!
Now I’m shouting it from the rooftops as well! Bodyarmor drinks are a Godsend for increasing breastmilk!
The first two weeks I began pumping again I was getting less than one ounce per day. (By the way, this is totally normal! The first few weeks you will only get drops because your body is getting use to producing milk again).
Now over a month into my relactation process, I have a foolproof system with Bodyarmor drinks and increasing milk!
Although your body may respond differently, I drink two bodyarmor drinks per day. One in the morning and one at night. I first began trying this with a week’s worth of Bodyarmor drinks and seeing if it really would raise my supply since I was getting a bit of milk now.
Here are my results: 2 Bodyarmor drinks per day= .5 to 1 ounce increase each day!
At the beginning of one week of the “Bodyarmor experiment” I was pumping a total of four ounces per day. Obviously, I wanted to increase this even more! After two Bodyarmor drinks per day for a week and an increase of half an ounce to an ounce… By the end of the week, I raised my supply from 4 ounces to 7 ounces!
Bodyarmor’s come in many flavors and is delicious! So far I’m not sick and tired of drinking two a day.
Let’s be clear here- Hand expression alone will not increase milk supply alone!
However, breast massage has been found to increase milk supply by 48%! That’s because hand expression is an effective way to remove more milk by compressing the milk ducts.
What I did was substitute a pumping session for hand expression once I started to see drops of milk. Another option is to do a regular pumping session of 15 to 20 minutes then do hand expression with compressions to see if you can remove any more milk. I found this method to be effective as well.
To help with breast massage I use the LaVie lactation massager!
The most important part to remember about massage is to massage your breasts WHILE pumping. This will help your milk ducts release more milk and cut down the time for your breasts to empty themselves of milk (when you do start producing again).
For your body to make more milk it’s all a matter of supply and demand! The more you demand from your breasts the more milk they will supply. It’s a simple equation:
More stimulation=More milk
Power pumping is all about increasing demand for more milk. It does this by stimulating the nipples like they would be stimulated with cluster feeding your baby.
Cluster feeding is a way to describe a period of time where a baby will nurse constantly ever 20 minutes. This tells your body to make for milk.
Thankfully, for relactation purposes for exclusive pumpers, power pumping stimulates cluster feeding. For increasing milk simple substitute a regular pumping session or two a day for a power pumping session.
Here’s how to power pump:
~Pump for 20 minutes
~Rest for 10 minutes
~Pump for 10 minutes
~Rest for 10 minutes
~Pump for 10 minutes
A power pumping session or two per day will put your body into overdrive for relactating breastmilk.
Related Articles: 10 Causes Of Low Milk Supply And How to Boost It
Pumping Every 2-3 Hours
Pumping every 2 hours stimulates more demand for breastmilk. Yes, it is exhausting! Especially in the early days of relactation when you’re only getting drops of milk. It seems like a pointless and tiring effort to pump every two hours.
But pumping every two hours is essential for relactation!
It tells your body you need to nurse every two hours to meet the demands of a newborn baby. If you are pumping every 2 to 3 hours, you will get anywhere from 8 to 12 pumping sessions.
This tip for relactation is my favorite! Going skin-to-skin with your baby is an easy way to boost milk supply.
Research found practicing skin-to-skin with your baby increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, the hormone responsible for breastmilk ejection and feelings of love.
On top of boosting supply, skin-to-skin may lead to your baby latching back on because your baby can smell your milk.
For skin-to-skin, all you need to do is leave your baby is his/her diaper and place your baby against your bare chest. Better yet, do this whenever possible.
I took an entire week and devoted naptimes to skin-to-skin. Unfortunately, it’s hard to stay seated for long periods of time with a baby on your chest when you have a three-year-old running around. But we made it work!
Coconut And Almond Milk
Almonds are full of protein and calcium, while coconut milk provides healthy fatty acids. Both almonds and coconut together are a win-win for increasing breastmilk volume.
So when I saw Silk made milk from coconuts and almonds combined, I figured “Hey, I’ll give it a try for increasing my milk.” And I’m glad I did. Not only did it provide the extra hydration my body needed it did help increase my supply.
Although I can’t pinpoint if coconut and almond milk alone increased my supply since I combined all of these tips together, I did notice an increase in breastmilk when I drank it before bed at night.
Of course, I could be looking too in-depth into it, I believe coconut and almonds is are lactogenic foods that gives my body the boost it needs to make more milk!
It doesn’t hurt to try, right? Plus, the unsweetened is low in calories, delicious and makes it easy to get a great supply of calcium, protein, and fatty acids.
I like to drink it straight out of the carton, but you might want to use it as a substitute for milk in recipes as well.
If you’ve searched for foods that increase breastmilk supply, you will find a million recipes for lactation cookies. Now you can always make your own. Just simply search for “lactation cookies” on Pinterest!
I did use a recipe I found on Pinterest to make lactation cookies and they were delicious. However, I find it hard to bake with a three-year-old and an 11-month old roaming around.
So to make life a little easier for relactation, I bought premade lactation cookies. I was pleasantly surprised by how great they taste!
Lactation cookies tend to include the following ingredients:
Oats: Increase levels of prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk making.
Fenugreek: Helps balance estrogen levels in the body to regulate prolactin levels.
Flaxseed: Contain omega-3 and omega-6 to increase healthy fats in breastmilk essential for baby’s immune system.
Brewer’s Yeast: Contains protein, B vitamins, and iron to help boost milk supply (research has yet to confirm its link to increasing milk supply, but breastfeeding/pumping mamas are raving about it).
Relactation is something that takes dedication, time and, a whole lot of patience. Don’t expect to start producing milk overnight and don’t expect your supply to return to where it once was within a week or two.
The process of relactation takes about a month or a little longer and some women do not have any success with relactation.
However, relactation is possible! But how long should you try all the tips above to relactate and increase milk supply?
I would give relactation one month! If you see no progress after a month, then it may be time to stop working so hard. There is no shame in using formula to feed your baby!
But it doesn’t hurt to try relactating again to provide your baby with the wonderful benefits of breastmilk!