Sometimes, and for various reasons, a family feeding their baby formula from a bottle may decide regain breastfeeding. This can be restored through a process known as relactation, which involves going from artificial or mixed breastfeeding to breastfeeding. For successfully relate and for the mother to produce breast milk again, some recommendations should be taken into account.
Pilar Martinez, International Breastfeeding Consultant, pharmacist and mother of two girls, solves all doubts.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of the baby's life and advises maintaining it (having introduced complementary feeding from this age on) until at least 2 years of age. However, whether due to ignorance, fear of not producing enough breast milk, personal choice or for many other reasons (in which only the mother has to incur), many newborn babies are already leaving the hospital with mixed breastfeeding.
However, and also for different reasons (which also concern only the mother), it may be decided that you want to breastfeed again as the exclusive way of feeding the baby. That is to say, you want to relax. This process is possible and many mothers succeed.
Sometimes, relactation is sought when there is still production of breast milk (even if it is in a lower amount), but at other times this process begins when the mother no longer has milk. Even, and as the WHO report, collected by the Spanish Association of Pediatrics, 'Relactación. Review of experience and recommendations for practice ', a woman who has never been pregnant can also establish breastfeeding, which is known as induced lactation, although often the milk production that is achieved is not sufficient to establish exclusive breastfeeding.
To relactate it is necessary to get the mother to produce enough breast milk that the baby needs. For it, the best technique is stimulation. The more the breast is stimulated, the more milk is produced. It is impossible to predict exactly how many days the woman's body will need to give milk, since in some cases a few days is sufficient while in others it may take a couple of weeks.
There are different ways to stimulate the breast so that the woman's body begins to 'make' milk again. For one thing, the nursing mother can use breast pumps. But it is also possible to put the baby to the breast more often so that, in this way, it sucks and stimulates the breast. The problem is that many babies, not getting the amount of milk they expect, get nervous.
Have you ever heard of relactators or supplementers? It is a bottle of milk, which can be breast milk or formula, from which comes a small tube that is fixed (with a little tape) on the mother's breast. The tip of the tube, which is very fine, has to be placed at the tip of the mother's nipple. In this way, when the baby suckles milk but, at the same time, the sucking movements of his mouth stimulate the breast. Skin-to-skin contact with the baby also helps milk production.
Here are some of the basic recommendations that must be taken into account so that relating to be a success:
1. As the aforementioned WHO report points out, the baby's readiness to breastfeed is very important, but also its age. Experience has shown that the smaller the baby, more willing to cling to his mother's breast. This does not mean that relactation with slightly older babies is impossible.
2. On the other hand, the shorter the time that has elapsed between stopping breastfeeding and beginning to relactate, the more likely it is to be successful. However, this WHO manual collects cases in which relactation has taken place 15 or 20 years later.
3. This manual also recommends stop using bottles and pacifiersThis helps babies to be more interested in the breast.
4. In case the baby does not get to latch onto the breast, we must look for the causes. Sometimes this is because there is an anatomical problem, for example, in the lingual frenulum.
5. To know that the baby is eating enoughIt is important at the beginning of the process to monitor that the weight gained is 'normal' (within which normal is very wide when we talk about babies). If in doubt, go to the pediatrician.
6. Although there are experts who recommend removing the supplements that the baby takes suddenly, Pilar Martínez recommends doing it little by little. It is the best way to prevent the little one from starving for a few days, while breast milk production increases.
As the mother increases the amount of milk she produces, these supplements can be withdrawn. Ideally, remove about 30ml. every 4 or 5 days, so that in this way the baby does not go hungry and milk production is not too abrupt (and thus problems such as engorgement occur).
7. For relactation it is also important to seek the baby's good grip.
8. To have a successful relactation it is also important that the mother is motivated to achieve it, but also that be confident that you will be able to do it. Most mothers find that motivation in the opportunity to offer the beneficial breast milk to their child again, but also in the improvement of the bond between the two.
9. The support of family and friends for the mother is also one of the keys that could determine relactation. And it is about a process for which the mother will need support. This means that the environment must respect the mother's decision to return to breastfeeding and offer her whatever help she needs. In addition, there are different breastfeeding support networks around the world that a mother can join if she wishes.
You can read more articles similar to 9 keys to successful relactation and regain breastfeeding, in the category of On-site Breastfeeding.