I WILL give some more information on relactation-based on request from readers, which I hope will be of assistance to mothers and fathers who would love to establish or re-establish breastfeeding.
Most women dream about and desire to breastfeed their babies. The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous to mother and baby, as it is the perfect food in the perfect composition and promotes growth and development in the new-born without the potential risk of diarrhoeal diseases. Breastfeeding provides unmatched bonding between mother and baby, helps mom's womb return to its normal size quickly and reduces fat stores around the legs and abdomen, among many other benefits.
There are many cases, however, when mothers are unable to initiate breastfeeding in the first hour after birth and unfortunately for some, for many weeks, because of illness in either mother or baby, or both. Many babies are born prematurely or ill and many mothers may spend weeks or even months fighting for their lives in hospital.
In many instances, it is possible to express the milk and feed the baby until life is back to normal for both, but what of the instances where this is not possible and things are not back to normal until weeks or even months? Should mother give up her desire and right to breast feed? Many mothers are under the impression that their milk production has ceased.
Relactation is the process of rebuilding your milk supply once you have stopped for a period of weeks or months; induced lactation is the process of building a milk supply in a woman who has never nursed or has done so years before. It is said that the younger the baby, the easier it is to get him/her to return to nursing. Relactation can be a challenging experience which takes resolve and support from an experienced professional or someone who has successfully relactated.
Relactation is promoted by groups such as La Leche League in the United States and is also used by surrogate and adoptive mothers. Many internet sites are available with women sharing their experiences. The two pituitary hormones that promote breastfeeding are prolactin, the milk-producing hormone, and oxytocin, the milk-releasing hormone, which are produced in response to nipple stimulation, including baby sucking and mechanical pumping. Prolactin-inducing drugs are also available to assist the process.
Milk production can take from one to four weeks (Bose CL et al Pediatrics. 1981 Apr; 67(4): 565-9) and therefore a supplemental line is recommended. This is a device with a plastic tubing attached to a supply of formula in a container on the chest. The thin tubing is taped to the breast and the baby is put to the breast to suck. He is fed from this supply until relactation is established. Interested mothers can search for Supplemental Nutrition System by Medela INC. or Lact-Aid supplemental nursing system on the web, if not available in stores locally.
Try to get the baby to latch on to the breast;
mouth should be open over the dark area of the breast.
Do this many times throughout the day using also the supplemental line to feed the baby in order to prevent frustration.
Keep the baby close to your chest skin to skin, to encourage rooting for the breast.
Manipulate with a breast pump several times throughout the day if you are back at work.
Relax, be patient, remember your resolve.
Reduce supplemental feeds as supply increases.
Resource personnel, registered dietitians and paediatricians, there is a need for more local breastfeeding support for mothers!
Rosalee Brown is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who operates Integrated Nutrition and Health Services; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.