Reintroducing breastfeeding or what is also called relactation is when a mother decides to go back to breastfeeding after bottle feeding her baby.
Thinking of reintroducing breastfeeding after bottle feeding? You are not alone. A lot of mothers have chosen to go back to breastfeeding after bottle feeding their babies for several reasons. It could be:
• Because she later found out that the baby isn’t doing well with formula
• She weaned her baby off breastfeeding too early and switched to bottle but decided later on to go back
• Bottle fed the baby due to work related/travel issues, but circumstances have changed and now wants to give breastfeeding another try
• Medical circumstances where the mother had to stop breastfeeding to avoid transfer of medicines into breast milk
Whatever the reasons are, it is important for a mother to know that reintroducing breastmilk is possible. But when is it too late?
Although it’s not entirely impossible to do this on older babies, reintroducing breastfeeding has a bigger chance of success on younger babies like 3 months or under.
The younger the infant, the bigger chances of success. Also, if your baby has tried breastfeeding in the past, the more likely they are to accept the breast again.
One challenge that you may encounter in reintroducing breastfeeding is if the baby prefers the bottle. One reason for this is that bottle feeding requires less effort from the baby compared to breastfeeding.
This is especially true if you are still struggling with your milk supply or the letdown isn’t fast enough for your hungry child.
This could be a reason why babies wont accept the breast and prefers eating from a bottle. Another reason is that the baby has gotten used to the bottle and is now confused about the switch.
So, what can you do to successfully reintroduce breastfeeding after bottle?
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Switch to a slow flow baby bottle nipple (preferably one that that’s shaped like a breast)
This way the baby will need to work harder to get the milk out during feeding time. One reason why baby’s prefer bottle is that the flow is consistent without having to suck harder.
Compare that with reintroduction to breastfeeding where milk supply may not be that good yet, the baby gets frustrated and cries for the bottle.
By making the baby work harder when bottle feeding, it becomes less appealing to your infant and may make them more open to giving breastfeeding a try.
Breastfeed when your breasts are full
Babies like milk and they like it when gratification is instant so by breastfeeding your baby when your breast is full and let down is quicker, this just might help encourage the baby to nurse.
Try breastfeeding your baby early in the morning
Offer your breasts as soon as your baby wakes up because this is when they are hungriest and may be willing to work harder for milk.
Another good thing about this is that mornings is usually when your milk supply is most abundant. So, take advantage of this and make it a habit to breastfeed your baby early in the morning.
Peace and Quiet
Reduce distraction and breastfeed in a quiet room away from noise and other sensory stimulation for the baby. This way the baby can focus on nursing and your chances of success is much higher.
Don’t forget skin to skin contact
Mother-baby skin to skin contact is very important because it stimulates the milk hormones prolactin and oxytocin. Make sure you are getting enough skin to skin moments with your baby to help promote milk production and to strengthen your bond with your baby.
If you want to be successful in reintroducing breastfeeding to your baby, you have to be consistent even if you are not getting much success.
It may take some time for your baby to get used to the idea of breastfeeding so don’t expect overnight success Continue to offer your breasts during feeding time even if your baby shows little interest
Slowly get rid of the pump
As soon as you see your baby showing interest in breastfeeding, switch a pumping schedule to breastfeeding and then gradually omitting pumping over time as you slowly ease to breastfeeding your baby on demand.
You may switch to a pump later on right after the feeding session if you feel your baby did it eat much from your breasts. This is to maintain your milk supply.
Common Issues that May Arise When Reintroducing Breastfeeding and What You Can Do About Them
Just like how it was in the beginning when you first started breastfeeding your baby, you may encounter a few problems.
Cracked and Sore Nipples
Your breasts will need to get used to breastfeeding again so expect that they will feel sore and may have cracking during the first few days or weeks. Use nipple creams to help soothe the pain and to ease the discomfort.
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Engorgement of the Breasts
This can happen especially during the first week after reintroducing breastfeeding. During this time, your infant may not be that interested in nursing which means, if not pumped regularly, you can experience breast engorgement. Try to breastfeed often and pump after feeding especially if your baby did not feed that long
Baby forgets how to latch
Some babies may experience nipple confusion and may not be able to latch correctly the first few times. What you can do is to change your feeding position and help your baby latch properly. Making it easy for them to latch on increases the possibility of regaining their loyalty to the breasts.
Milk supply issues
Remember how it was when your baby was born, and your milk supply wasn’t steady yet? It’s going to be the same case. Your milk supply may take some time to build.
What you can do about this is to pump regularly, check lactation supplements like cookies and teas. It is also best if you consult a lactation expert who can help give you advice on how to build up your milk supply.
Switching from bottle to breasts the first few days of reintroduction can cause nipple confusion. This is quite common in babies who are being reintroduced to breastfeeding after getting used to bottle feeding.
What you can do is to offer your breasts more often compared to the bottle. This helps in making your baby get used to your breasts. Your baby should be able to master it after several tries.
Additional Tips on How to Start Breastfeeding After Bottle Feeding Successfully
Don’t expect overnight success
Switching from bottle to breasts is not an overnight process. It can take days or even weeks to build your milk supply up. Have patience and trust that your body was made to do this.
Don’t stress too much about it as anxiety can affect one’s milk production. Remember that you will have better letdown and milk supply when you are stress-free.
Don’t be too anxious about it, with dedication and consistency, you should be able to pick up where you left off when it comes to breastfeeding.
Milk production boosters are your best friends – talk to your doctor about how to boost your milk supply. The more milk you will have, the more interesting breastfeeding will be for your baby.
Flexibility is key
If an approach you’re taking isn’t yielding good results, try another one. You should be open to new ideas and should have the willingness to do it. Trial and error until you find one that works for you and the baby.
Motherhood can be tough, but it doesn’t mean you have to go through it alone. Accept help from friends, family and other fellow moms. It is also okay to reach out and seek help/advice on what to do from other people.
Remember that the more relaxed you are, the better results you will get when it comes to milk production. So, don’t be afraid to let your BFF watch your sleeping baby as you take a bath.
Allow your mom to watch your baby once in a while so you can practice self-care. Call a lactation expert if you aren’t sure about what’s going on so you can get proper advice. It does take a village!
Benefits of Breastfeeding
If you are feeling disheartened and have been thinking about giving up, remember the benefits of breastfeeding. Think of these as your motivation to strive for success in reintroducing breastfeeding to your baby
Protects your baby from a allergies/eczema. Protein in your breastmilk are easily digested compared to cow’s milk which can trigger an allergic reaction.
No problem about lactose intolerance. A lot of babies have a hard time digesting formula thus resulting in constipation or diarrhea.
Reduces risks of infection – According to medical experts, breastfed babies are less likely to develop ear infections, gastroenteritis, and other respiratory problems.
Helps make vaccines become more effective – according to research, breastfed babies develop better antibodies compared to the formula fed babies.
Aside from all these (and so much more), breastfeeding also has a lot of benefits for the moms. It helps lower the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer, helps shed excess weight after pregnancy, lowers the risk of developing osteoporosis.
The numerous benefits that moms and babies can get from breastfeeding should help motivate you to go back to breastfeeding your baby.
And the icing on the cake? Less expenses. Breastmilk is packed with all the nutrients to support your baby’s growing needs and does not cost a cent.
Whatever your reasons are for reintroducing breastfeeding to your baby, we hope that this article helped answer some questions and we wish you the best of luck!