Breastfeeding after a Month's Interruption

I am a new mother. After my baby was born, I nursed off and on for a couple of weeks. I supplemented with formula. Unfortunately, I had to be away from my baby for almost a month. Now I wish to continue breastfeeding. Is it still possible, or should I give it up?

-- Jay-Dee

Question:

It is quite possible to relactate. There are several factors that determine how successful the relactation will be: How long has it been since baby last nursed? How old is the baby? How well does the baby "remember" how to nurse correctly? And finally, how patient and determined is the mother?

The real challenge, I think, will be to encourage the baby to nurse correctly. Your body should remember how to produce milk; in fact, there may still be a small amount being produced already. The same process occurs in relactation as when you were first starting to breastfeed: supply and demand. The more the baby nurses, the more milk you will make. If s/he is happy to nurse a few times per day, you can pump at other times to stimulate your supply. You can also try pumping for three to five minutes on each breast several times per day for a few weeks before you even try offering the breast to the baby. You may get only a small amount of milk by pumping, but this will increase once your baby starts to nurse. Your baby is more likely to accept a breast that has milk coming for him/her.

Patience and determination will be the key to bringing up milk production and encouraging the baby to breastfeed again. You will want to nurse the baby for as long as s/he is willing before you offer him/her a bottle (or other feeding device, like a cup).

You might try to offer the baby the breast when s/he is happy and content or sleepy. It will be trial and error for both of you and may be time-consuming at first. Even if s/he nurses only a few times per day, s/he may stimulate some milk production and s/he will certainly get the benefits of closeness and skin contact that nursing brings.

-- LLLezlie

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