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Re-lactating. any advice would be helpful

Posted by on May. 22, 2012 at 1:37 PM
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So i guess i have kind of a long story.  I have a special needs boy who is 14 mths old.  I breast fed him when he was born and things seemed to be going well.  At 3 mths old... he stopped sucking. At 4 mths old he stopped giving hunger cues.  at 5 months old he began having seizures.  and then finally at 7 mths old he stoped eating all together due to medications and we had to make the decision to have a g-tube put in.  In the past month, his seizures have stopped, he's been weened off of medication.  He's begun to give hunger cues again and last night he was rooting around my breasts and mouthing them.  I decided to offer the breast to see what he would do.  he latched on and began sucking.  An amazing miracle!  So I made the decision to see if i can get some sort of supply going and possibly getting him to take food by mouth again. My heart is full with hope that this is the right avenue to take.  Any advice would be greatly greatly appriciated!  
you rock 
Thanks, Bethany 

by on May. 22, 2012 at 1:37 PM
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by Bronze Member on May. 22, 2012 at 1:40 PM
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I don't have advice but I know there on moms here that will. I just wanted to say how amazing this is and best if luck! I hope it all works out for you!
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by on May. 22, 2012 at 1:46 PM
1 mom liked this
Fenugreek and blessed thistle and goats rue. It works for some it hasnt helped me but good luck.
by on May. 22, 2012 at 4:32 PM


by on May. 22, 2012 at 4:36 PM
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That made me tear up, I just had to say it.
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by Kate on May. 22, 2012 at 5:20 PM
1 mom liked this

Relactation and Adoptive Breastfeeding: The Basics


By Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC

Relactation or induced lactation (for those who did not give birth to their baby) is essentially a two-fold process:

  1. You will be teaching (or re-teaching) baby to nurse at the breast, and to equate nursing with comfort. If you’re having problems getting baby to nurse, see Help — My Baby Won’t Nurse!
  2. At the same time you will be developing (or re-developing) a milk supply. Developing a milk supply requires nipple stimulation (via baby nursing, hand expression, pumping or a combination) and milk removal (once there is milk to remove). If your baby will nurse, regular and frequent nursing sessions (even if baby is just learning in the beginning) will be very helpful.

If your baby is 4 months old or younger it will generally be easier to relactate. It will also be easier if your milk supply was well established (frequent and effective nursing and/or pumping) during the first 4-6 weeks postpartum. However, moms with older babies, moms who did not establish a good milk supply in the beginning, and adoptive moms who have never breastfed can also get good results. Keep in mind that breastfeeding is not just about the milk. Your child will get numerous benefits from breastfeeding even if you do not have a full milk supply.

If baby is willing to latch on, then nurse often (at least every 2-3 hours). Also, offer baby the breast for comfort any time you see a chance- at the end of a feeding when he is not hungry, when he is going to sleep and just waking up, and whenever he needs to comfort suck. Even if baby is not getting any milk at first, the nursing will be signaling your breasts to make milk.

What if baby will not latch? Keep working at it – some babies have gone back to the breast after many months of bottle feeding. Even if you are not able to persuade baby to latch, you have the option of re-establishing your milk supply via pumping and giving baby your milk via bottle or cup (this is called exclusive pumping).

If baby is not nursing well (or not yet latching at all), pumping will make a big difference in increasing your milk supply. Even if baby appears to be nursing well, additional pumping will speed up the relactation process. See Establishing and maintaining milk supply when baby is not nursing for more information.

You will also want to take a look at Hidden Hindrances to a Healthy Milk Supply to see if there are any factors that may compromise your milk supply.

Consider giving your baby his feedings via an alternative feeding method (rather than a bottle), such as a nursing supplementer, feeding syringe, finger feeding setup, flexible cup, spoon, medicine/eye dropper, etc. If your baby is latching well, a nursing supplementer can be a big help: it will encourage your baby to nurse at your breast by giving him a constant flow of milk (expressed milk and/or formula) while he stimulates your breasts to produce more milk. Read more about nursing supplementers in Notes from “Induced Lactation and Adoptive Nursing”.

Some mothers use herbal supplements, such as fenugreek or blessed thistle, to stimulate milk production. You can usually buy these at health food stores or herb shops and occasionally at some large supermarkets or pharmacies. For more information see What is a galactagogue? Do I need one? …Herbal remedies for increasing milk supply. There are also several prescription medications that increase milk supply. These herbal and pharmaceutical methods for stimulating milk supply will not be particularly effective unless combined with frequent nursing and/or pumping.

Finally, get in touch with a La Leche League Leader or Lactation Consultant/IBCLC (in person if at all possible) who has experience with relactation. It’s great to have one-on-one support as you work through this.

by Kate on May. 22, 2012 at 5:26 PM
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Just latching and allowing him to suckle as much he wants to will be huge.  You may still have milk at this point and he will slowly increase your supply that way.  Using galactagogues will help as well.  Going slowly might be a good thing for him if he's just starting to take food by mouth.

by on May. 22, 2012 at 5:29 PM
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I just wanted to add a huge hug! You have been thru a lot and your gift will do so much for him. :)
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by Group Admin - Amy on May. 22, 2012 at 7:08 PM
1 mom liked this
I completely agree with this! Just keep letting him latch and suckle and your supply will increase to his demand. Even just having him skin to skin on your chest will help increase your supply.

Quoting K8wizzo:

Just latching and allowing him to suckle as much he wants to will be huge.  You may still have milk at this point and he will slowly increase your supply that way.  Using galactagogues will help as well.  Going slowly might be a good thing for him if he's just starting to take food by mouth.

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by on May. 23, 2012 at 12:38 AM

How do I Relactate?

It is possible to get your baby successfully nursing at the breast, and can be well worth the effort in the long run.  I have worked with other moms with babies who came home from the hospital taking only bottles and learned to breastfeed.  Keep in mind that many moms re-lactate and breastfeed their adopted children (and not just newborns, even older infants who have had nothing but bottles for their first months of life).

Will your baby latch on and nurse at all?  If he will, just start putting him to the breast more and more.  Get him to nurse as much as he is willing and supplement as you need to with pumped milk and/or formula.  Gradually over time you can get him transitioned all the way to the breast.

Don't worry about putting your baby to the breast if you have little or no milk. Remember, no one worries about or questions giving a baby a pacifier and that has no milk coming out of it! Comfort nursing is often the first nursing a baby will do so you can start by encouraging that, even if you have little or no milk.

You will want to get him to the breast at least 8-12 times in 24 hours.  Another thing you can do to help increase supply is to pump between feedings.  Pump one hour after feedings as many times a day as you can.  Pick a schedule for pumping, and stick to that schedule.  After several days you should start to see an increase in the amount you are pumping.  Any milk you pump can be used to replace formula in the bottles. The pump you are using can make a huge difference. Some pumps are much more effective at extracting milk than others. An automatic double action pump made by a reputable company is usually needed by mothers who are establishing a milk supply or relactating. The pump should cycle-suction 40 to 60 times per minute.  It may be worth it to rent a hospital grade pump (even just for one month).  See PUMPING TO INCREASE MILK SUPPLY and  POWER PUMPING

Here are some tips that may help him to get back to the breast:

Put him to the breast when he is not hungry, encourage "comfort nursing".

Give him most of his feeding by bottle, then try to switch him to the breast. Click here to learn more about the “finish at the breast” method

If he is used to the bottle, and completely refusing the breast, he may be willing to take the breast with a nipple shield.

Pump a little before putting him to the breast to get the milk flowing so that he gets an "immediate reward".

You can eliminate supplemental bottles so that he gets all of his sucking at the breast.  You can get milk into him by cup or syringe if he still needs supplemental milk.

Another way to eliminate bottles is to supplement at the breast.  This has been helpful to some moms and babies transitioning from bottle to breast. For this you will need an At Breast Supplementer . Here is a summary of my experiences with At Breast Supplementers as well.

Medela SNS


If you are only going to do ONE thing, my best advice is to get an at breast supplementer and do all feedings at the breast.

Increase skin on skin contact:
Many mothers have found skin-to-skin is the absolute best tool we have for increasing milk supply and getting babies to nurse really well. Spending as much time as you possibly can with you undressed from the waist up and your baby undressed except for a diaper, just letting him sleep in your arms against your skin until he wakes and wants to nurse, will help so much. It organizes baby's suck and it stimulates your milk supply. Skin-to-skin contact also keeps your baby warm and secure and helps him use all his energy to grow.

The two of you can cover up with a blanket when you’re resting together. When you’re up and around, you could carry your baby inside your shirt/jacket (a button up works best) when he is wearing nothing but a diaper. Babies love to be held so I'm sure he would be thrilled! If you have a sling or soft baby carrier you can carry him in that under your shirt/jacket.

Warm baths have been known to help too. There's something not only relaxing about a nice warm bath, but it also help the milk flow. If you bathe with your baby that is even better. The warm water helps baby relax and nurse better while it helps you relax and your milk to flow better. For safety only do this when someone is available to help you in and out of the tub.

If you do give pumped milk or formula with a bottle, offer it to him in only his diaper, holding him against your bare chest, turned in close to “simulate” breastfeeding.  You want him to associate this feeling with feeding. Also seeBOTTLE FEEDING METHODS THAT SUPPORT BREASTFEEDING

Try breast compression:
Another tool that mothers have found very helpful for increasing milk supply is breast compression. To do breast compression, put baby to your breast and let him latch on and nurse. You'll see the little fluttery sucks at first while he is waiting for the milk to let down, then his sucking will change to slooooow sucks and you'll be able to hear him swallowing. That's how you know your milk is flowing (also called “letting down”).

When the milk stops flowing quickly, your baby will go back to the quick, fluttery sucks. Then you grasp your breast, with your hand well back away from the nipple, and squeeeeeeze and hold. You'll see that your baby goes back to the sloooow sucks again, as your milk begins flowing quickly and he drinks your milk. Keep holding the squeeze until he goes back to flutter-sucks, then release the squeeze for a few moments, and repeat. You can continue breast compression, followed by releasing the compression, for the whole nursing session. Doing breast compression can really help your baby get a lot more milk in a short time.

You may choose to use herbs or contact your doctor about prescription medication to boost your supply.  Here are some links to more information:

Domperidone is the prescription drug of choice for increasing prolactin and milk supply.

also see Domperidone, getting started

Galactagogues at

Fenugreek is an easy to find, safe herb that is often used to increase milk supply.

THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK, 2003 states:  “Many mothers try to boost their milk supply by drinking herbal teas, but the dose cannot be as easily controlled as capsules or tinctures, so the results will be inconsistent.  Fenugreek (three capsules three times per day can be taken alone or with blessed thistle (three capsules three times per day).  Experience indicates that it takes 24-72 hours to see an increase in milk supply once the herbs are started in the correct doses.  Fenugreek is listed in the US as a Generally Recognized as Safe herbal.”

by on May. 23, 2012 at 12:38 AM

Getting an Older Baby to Breastfeed

There are situations when a mother has an older baby, a baby beyond the newborn stage, who is not breastfeeding. It may be an adopted baby. It may be the case of a child who has weaned and the mother wants to get the baby breastfeeding again. Whatever the reason, there are ways to help transition an older baby, or even toddler, to the breast. has some good information on getting baby to the breast. She suggests that, especially with an older baby, you think about coaxing baby to the breast. These are just a few of her suggestions:

Your goal is to coax baby to the breast. Do not attempt to force your baby to breastfeed. Forcing baby to the breast does not work, stresses baby, and can result in baby forming an aversion to the breast. As baby gets better at nursing and is able to get more milk via nursing, he will grow to trust that breastfeeding works and will have more patience when latching. 

  • Lots of skin-to-skin contact can help your baby nurse better and even gain weight faster. Keep your baby with you as much as possible, and give him lots of opportunities to nurse (even if you're not successful). Get skin-to-skin with him, first when he is sleepy, right after a bottle feed (or however you're supplementing). This way baby has the opportunity to sleep and wake up happily, skin to skin at mom's chest, and mom is right there to catch the earliest hunger cues. If baby moves toward the breast and then falls asleep before even mouthing the nipple, or after sucking twice, then these are positive baby steps, not failures.
  • Carry your baby close to you ... "Wear," carry, hold and cuddle your baby as much as possible; carry baby on your hip while doing other things, play with baby, and give baby lots of focused attention.
  • Sleep near your baby. If baby sleeps with you, you'll get more skin-to-skin contact, plus baby has more access to the breast... If baby is not in the same bed, have baby's bed beside your bed or in the same room so that you can catch early feeding cues, breastfeed easier at night, and get more sleep.
  • Nipple shields can be helpful at times for transitioning baby to the breast. Talk to your lactation consultant about using this tool.
  • Comfort nursing is often the first to come, followed by nutritive nursing. Offer the breast for comfort any time you see a chance- at the end of a feeding when baby is not hungry, when baby is going to sleep or just waking up, when baby is asleep, and whenever he needs to comfort suck If your baby is actively resisting nursing, then try encouraging comfort nursing after baby is comfortable with skin-to-skin contact. After baby is willing to nurse for comfort, you can then proceed to working on nursing for "meals" as well.

    You are working to seduce your baby back to breast. Again, coax, don't force!

    There are more things you can try:

    • Offer the breast when he is not hungry.
    • Try giving him most of his feeding by bottle and then switching over to the breast.This is known as the Finish at the Breast method.
    • You can change the way you bottle feed to help the transition. There are methods of bottle feeding that are more supportive of breastfeeding.

    SNS At Breast Supplementer

    If you have tried all of the suggestions above, without success, there is another approach you can try. I will describe steps in a method that is often used to teach older infants to breastfeed. How quickly you go through these steps will depend upon how your baby is responding. You will need an at breast supplementer to do this.

    Lact-Aid At Breast Supplementer

  • First, only mom feeds the baby (both solids and bottles). Baby is always held by mom when being fed.

  • Don’t allow baby to hold his own bottle. If baby is used to holding his own bottle you may need to gradually get him used to you holding it. Put a sock over it so that it looks more like a piece of clothing than a bottle.

  • When baby is comfortable with mom holding the bottle, and being held by mom while feeding, you are ready to try the at breast supplementer (abs). The first step is to thread the tube of the abs through the bottle nipple he usually takes, and feed him that way (you can use a tapestry needle to thread supplementer tube into the nipple, it only needs to stick out a little).

  • Next, move the bottle nipple over your own nipple. Once he is comfortable sucking on the nipple with the abs over your nipple you are ready to try and move him to your breast. Toward the end of the feeding try and switch him to your breast.

  • Once you get baby to latch on to the breast directly, you may try to feed at first with the abs (even if you have a good supply) as baby may like the faster flow he is used to getting from the bottle.You can eventually wean off of the abs (usually very quickly if you have a good supply).

Here is how one mother describes her progress:

From Child of My Heart
All the next day I bottle-fed him in the nursing position. He was content, but I found it so awkward. Breastfeeding leaves you with one hand free, and I'd never really realized that bottle-feeding takes two hands! The next day I began to work on the gradual transition to the breast. My first step was to thread the tiny tube of the nursing supplementer through the same type of bottle nipple he was used to. Then I placed the bottle nipple (without the collar) over my breast for the feeding. This way Joshua got used to being against my skin, while still sucking on his familiar bottle nipple. His formula now flowed from the supplementer rather than the bottle and to all outward appearances, he was breastfeeding.

Another mother describes their progress:

From We Are Breastfeeding
During the third week, I began put the tube of an at-breast supplementer next to the bottle nipple. I planned to put this tube next to my nipple while breastfeeding so he could get more milk at the breast. He needed to get used to that idea, so I pulled the tube through the bottle nipple with a needle, and then filled the supplementer bag with milk... ...At the end of the third week I put the bottle nipple closer to my breast and then right over my breast. Then I could move him toward me into a breastfeeding position. We were almost breastfeeding even though he had not yet latched on. He got milk from me while being held in my arms. He felt my skin next to his belly. He felt my breast against his cheek. He looked into my eyes. He smiled back at me.
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