Daily Bulletin


  • Written by Karleen Gribble, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Western Sydney University

Many women find breastfeeding difficult and stop before they planned. Some women are relieved to stop. But others regret it.

If you regret stopping, you may be able to give it another go, even if you no longer have any milk. This may be possible even if it’s been weeks or months since you last breastfed.

Why? From COVID-19 to sick babies

Women want to start breastfeeding again for a variety of reasons. Some babies don’t do well on infant formula. Others become sick and their mothers want to give them breastmilk to help them recover.

If a mother found breastfeeding challenging the first time around, a change in circumstance, a little more sleep, or just the passage of time can bring a different perspective.

Women might also want to restart breastfeeding if they’re in an emergency situation without services like water or power, such as a bushfire or cyclone.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, mothers have contacted the Australian Breastfeeding Association about starting breastfeeding again because they wanted to protect their babies from infection or were concerned about the availability of infant formula.

Read more: Evacuating with a baby? Here's what to put in your emergency kit

Almost any mother who wants to start breastfeeding again can. There are only a small number of health conditions that make breastfeeding inadvisable for medical reasons.

However, relactation needs to be something you want to do because it is unlikely to succeed if your heart isn’t really in it.

How can I start breastfeeding again?

When you stop breastfeeding, a protein in the milk signals your breasts to stop making milk. This decrease in milk production usually takes weeks.

If there is still some milk in your breasts, you can start rebuilding your supply by removing milk from your breasts as often as you can. You can do this by breastfeeding, if your baby is still willing, or by expressing milk by hand or with a breast pump.

If your breasts aren’t making milk any more, you can restore your supply by relactation.

To start, you will need to stimulate your nipples frequently by encouraging your baby to suck at your breasts or by using a breast pump. This triggers the release of a hormone called prolactin that develops the milk-making structures in your breast to start producing milk. Once milk secretion begins, removing the milk from the breast signals your breasts to make more milk.

Read more: No, there's no evidence cookies can help with lactation

If your baby is willing to suckle, this is the easiest way to relactate. The more frequently they do this, the stronger the message to your breasts to develop and start making milk again.

Providing extra milk to your baby at the breast while they suck can help them suck for longer. You can provide this milk using a breastfeeding supplementer. This is a container with a tube that carries expressed breastmilk or formula to your nipple. When your baby sucks at the breast, milk is drawn through the tube into your baby’s mouth, along with any milk from your breast.

I regret stopping breastfeeding. How do I start again? A breastfeeding supplementer, which delivers extra milk, can help babies suckle for longer. Leanda Cochrane/Studio 22 Photography, Armidale, Author provided

Alternatively, you can drip milk over your breast while your baby sucks.

However, some babies used to bottle feeding may be reluctant to breastfeed at first. It’s important to not try to force your baby. A breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant can suggest ways to encourage them.

In the meantime, you can use a breast pump to stimulate the nipples and remove milk from your breasts. You can then give that expressed milk to your baby in a bottle or cup.

Read more: Want to breastfeed? These five things will make it easier

How long does relactation take?

You can start making milk within a few days or weeks. This depends on how long it has been since your baby last breastfed and how often you stimulate your nipples.

If your baby is willing to suckle, you will need to breastfeed at least eight times in 24 hours for the first few weeks to get milk-making started and to increase your milk supply.

Allowing your baby to breastfeed as often as they want to, even if they are only comfort-sucking, will speed up the process. It also helps to keep your baby close to your body as much as you can, day and night. This helps to maximise opportunities for suckling. Using a baby sling or carrier can help.

Read more: Is it safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding?

If your baby isn’t ready to suckle yet, an electric breast pump that expresses both breasts at once is more effective than a single-electric (expresses one breast at a time) or manual pump. You’ll need to use the pump for 10-20 minutes, six to eight times in 24 hours.

Expressing milk by hand after breastfeeds or using a breast pump can help remove any remaining milk. The emptier the breasts, the stronger the message they receive to make more milk.

You can also ask your GP about using a medication to increase your body’s production of prolactin, which can make relactation a little quicker.

Does it work?

If your baby is willing to suck frequently, the process can be quite simple. But other mothers and babies find it more challenging. For instance, sometimes making milk is easy but it takes more time for your baby to be willing to breastfeed.

If you stopped breastfeeding because of a problem, such as persistent nipple pain or mastitis, you might need some help to prevent this recurring. Every situation is different.

Having a support network to cheer you on as well as practical support from family and friends — such as making meals, helping with housework, or entertaining older children while you’re occupied — will make the process much easier.

A lactation consultant or Australian Breastfeeding Association counsellor can support you to start breastfeeding again.

Authors: Karleen Gribble, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Western Sydney University

Read more https://theconversation.com/i-regret-stopping-breastfeeding-how-do-i-start-again-143183

Writers Wanted

The Gabba Grand Final: how Queensland fell in love with Australian Rules football again


Climate-protected citadels, virtual worlds only for the privileged: is this the future of inequality?


5 Money-Saving Tips for Millennials in Trouble


The Conversation


Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

Top 5 US Logistics Companies

Nothing is more annoying than having to deal with unreliable shipping companies for your fragile and important packages. Other than providing the best customer service, a logistics company also ne...

News Co - avatar News Co

Luke Lazarus Helps Turns Startups into Global Stalwarts

There are many positive aspects to globalization. It is no secret that those who have been impacted by globalization tend to enjoy a higher standard of living in general. One factor that has led to ...

Emma Davidson - avatar Emma Davidson

Digital-based strategies that grow and expand your business

Small and medium-sized businesses are increasingly relying on new technology solutions to strengthen their product development, marketing, and customer engagement activities. Technology adoption...

News Co - avatar News Co

News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion