Relactation is possible and can be very healing for you; but it can be difficult to achieve a full milk supply again. There are several factors which contribute to getting a milk supply back and it largely depends on how much breastfeeding/expressing you did in the first couple of weeks postnatal – as this is when all the milk making cells were produced. These can be ‘switched back on’ by stimulating the breasts again frequently.
To relactate you would need to express at least 8 times in 24 hours, ideally with a hospital grade pump. These can be loaned direct from the company or you can purchase one.
Put baby to the breast using a nipple shield if they won’t latch or struggle to recognise the breast.
You can use a supplemental nursing system to provide formula feeds at the breast until your milk supply is larger. Babies often refuse to suckle if the milk flow isn’t as fast as they are used to, but providing feeds at the breast will help your milk supply come back quicker as your body will respond better to your baby suckling than the pump.
You may be suitable for Domperidone which is a drug that may help to boost milk supply. It has a side effect of increasing prolactin, which is your milk making hormone. It isn’t suitable for everyone and is prescribed ‘off license’ because it is being used for a potential side effect, rather than the drugs intended use. You would need to discuss suitability of this medication with your GP.
Other things that may help increase your milk supply and get baby back to the breast, are lots of skin to skin contact; giving bottle feeds with their cheek on your breast (skin contact), swapping arms half way through a bottle feed (so it’s like swapping sides on the breast).
Also ensure you are pacing bottle feeds to ensure they are as much like breastfeeds as possible – breastmilk doesn’t flow continuously like a bottle would, so slowing the feed and giving breaks can help.
Further questions or support?
Who we are and what we do – Solihull Infant Feeding Team