Relactation is re-establishing your milk supply after your baby has been fed formula.
You may want to restart your milk supply days, weeks, months or even years after stopping feeding. If your baby has been on formula for several weeks and your milk supply has dried up, start it up again by putting him to the breast frequently.
He may be frustrated at first by feeding at an empty breast, partly because the shape of the nipple isn't such a strong stimulus to sucking as the shape of a rubber teat.
You can try two things. Either let him have some formula from a bottle to satisfy his initial hunger, then let him feed from you.
Or give him formula from a cup or spoon, to avoid the stimulus of the rubber teat and then letting him feed from you. Once you start to produce some milk, try to get your let-down working before putting your baby to the breast.
You will also need to invest in a breast pump as pumping and expressing regularly will help with relactation.
If baby doesn’t want to latch at all, you could always express exclusively, and give baby breastmilk from a bottle or cup.
Expressing exclusively works to re-establish the milk supply as well, although it is best to nurse as well if it’s possible. However, if latching isn’t possible, then skin-to-skin contact should help as well as this would signal the breast to produce milk.
After each feed, express or pump your breasts to encourage your milk supply to build up. Remember that the more often your baby breastfeeds, the more quickly your milk will reappear.
Baby should be nursing every 2 to 3 hours, even if he or she isn’t quite latching on yet. The skin-to-skin contact will encourage baby’s feeding instincts and send a message to mom’s breasts to produce milk.
A good nursing bra will make the regular nursing much easier and it will be more comfortable for your sore and sensitive breasts.
By about two weeks you'll probably be producing enough milk to be able to do away with formula. Remember to get plenty of skin-to-skin contact and let your baby comfort for suck whenever he or she wants.
It will be easier to re-establish a milk supply if baby is 4 months or younger and the milk was well established in the beginning (first 4 to 6 weeks postpartum).
This does not mean that you won’t be able to establish a good milk supply if it wasn’t well established; even adoptive mom’s (who have never had a milk supply) can establish a good milk supply by regular nursing and expressing.
Herbal supplements can also be used to stimulate milk production. Supplements such as fenugreek or blessed thistle are known be good stimulants for breastmilk.
These herbal supplements could be found at health food stores, herb shops or pharmacies. Ensure you do ample research before purchasing and using herbal supplements.
You could also speak to your healthcare provider about prescription medication.
Keep in mind however, neither of these options will be effective unless they are combined with nursing and expressing/pumping.
If after two weeks your efforts have yielded no results, you should seek relactation tips from a professional breastfeeding counsellor or Lactation Consultant.
These individuals (generally women) are qualified in helping moms establish a good milk supply and breastfeeding routine with baby.
They will be able to provide you with more advice and guidance on relactation and as such it is best to meet with them in person (take baby along as well).
Breastfeeding is more than just feeding your baby.
By beginning breastfeeding soon after birth, it helps make the bonding of mom and baby easier as mom will feel a sense of accomplishment in providing her baby with nourishment.
Breastfeeding also provides comfort for both baby and mom, and by re-establishing your milk, you and baby will both be provided with the comfort of skin-to-skin contact.
Many are not aware of this, but breastfeeding lowers the risk of postpartum depression, and can also lessen the effects in moms who are suffering from this common illness. It does this by lowering mom’s stress levels and promoting positive feelings.
Breastfeeding has many great health benefits for both mom and baby, and these benefits should not be overlooked.