I would like to resume breastfeeding after an interruption. How do I relactate?
Sometimes a mother decides to resume breastfeeding, whether due to an emergency when there is a shortage of other food, after a separation, etc. Often a mother can rebuild a milk supply very successfully, with patience and determination (and a cooperative baby). The Breastfeeding Answer Book, published by La Leche League International, recommends the following strategies for relactation and induced lactation, to stimulate milk production:
- Putting baby to breast to suck at each feeding and for comfort between feedings as often as possible.
- Using hand expression or a breast pump.
- Using a nursing supplementer (if available and if conditions are sanitary enough to make its use safe) to provide expressed milk at the breast while baby sucks at the breast.
- Taking herbs/medication that increase milk supply (herb resources are listed in the resources collection).
If you do use herbs or medications to increase your supply, be sure to put the baby to the breast frequently, to remove as much milk as possible. This will help avoid breast infections or plugged ducts.
Our FAQ on increasing your milk supply also contains valuable hints for re-starting breastfeeding, and our article on how the human breast works contains valuable information on how milk supply is built up and maintained.
Resources for Additional Information
The items listed below were written by reputable lactation specialists, but do not necessarily reflect LLLI policy. Opinions are those of the authors.
Fenugreek: One Remedy for Low Milk Production
Author: Kathleen E. Huggins
Author: Curtis, C.
Herbal Remedies for Milk Supply
Author: Newman, J.
Herbs and Breastfeeding
Author: Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC
Items below may be available from the LLLI Online Store or from your local Leader. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, published by La Leche League International, is the most complete resource available for the breastfeeding mother.
Breastfeeding An Adopted Baby and Relactation: This book is ideal for mothers who wish to breastfeed an adopted baby or relactate, as well as for the health professionals who counsel them. Some of the topics discussed by author Elizabeth Hormann include substances that stimulate milk production and preparation for adoptive breastfeeding.
The Breastfeeding Answer Book: Written by Nancy Mohrbacher and Julie Stock, this popular LLLI resource is ideal for all health professionals who counsel pregnant and breastfeeding women. Highlights include approaches to positioning and latch-on, information on the use of prescription and herbal medications to increase milk supply, and illustrations of the breast structure and how the breast functions. Extensive references provided.
Our FAQs present information from La Leche League International on topics of interest to parents of breastfed children. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise. If you have a serious breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader. Please consult health care professionals on any medical issue, as La Leche League Leaders are not medical practitioners.