Can You Establish Your Milk Supply and Breastfeed Again if You Stopped?
By Nicole Kekesi, Virtua Board-Certified Lactation Consultant
The ongoing infant formula shortage has left parents fearful and frustrated, finding empty shelves as they search for formula to feed their babies. Your pediatrician is your best resource to recommend formula substitutions or other options that would work best for your baby.
Virtua lactation consultants have received many calls from parents looking to induce lactation or relactation to feed their babies.
- Induced lactation is the process of establishing milk production and breastfeeding, even if you haven’t been pregnant or given birth.
- Relactation is a process of reestablishing milk production after you’ve stopped breastfeeding.
The process of establishing milk production takes patience and time. Success is impacted by:
- The length of time from when you stopped breastfeeding
- Your baby’s age
- Previous breastfeeding issues experienced
- Previous milk supply
- Medical issues affecting you or your baby
The process is more challenging if you’ve never breastfed before, but it may not be impossible.
Increased breast stimulation is key to achieving success
To establish your milk supply, you’ll need to stimulate your breasts using a breast pump every 3 hours for 20 minutes each time. A hospital-grade breast pump provides powerful suction and may be best as you begin the process.
It’s important to be patient with yourself, as it can take a few weeks to a few months to induce and increase milk production. If your baby is new to breastfeeding, it also may take some time to get used to this new way of feeding.
Virtua lactation consultants are here to help you
For expert advice and guidance, schedule a telehealth appointment with a Virtua lactation consultant. Understanding your health and breastfeeding history will help your lactation consultant develop a plan that works for you. The lactation consultant also can connect you with hospital-grade breast pump rentals and other resources to support your success.
It’s also important to note that lactation consultants can help induce lactation in people who may have stopped breastfeeding soon after birth. This can happen with preterm or induced deliveries, unexpected trauma or medical issues at birth, or breastfeeding difficulties. The process may take less time if you start within a few weeks of birth.
- Local breastfeeding support and resources
- Baby Formula Shortage: What Families Need to Know (from Virtua’s partners in pediatric care, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)
- Formula substitution list (from Virtua’s partners in pediatric care, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)
- Facebook formula shortage support group (private group)
Updated July 14, 2022