First and foremost turn that guilt off. Here we do not host pity parties; the decorations suck and the cake is stale. We do not harbor shame; it can find it’s own way out. Lets focus quickly on the most common reasons a woman stops her EBF relationship with her child.
Lack of support.
It is essential to have a solid foundation of support to EBF. Women constantly encounter unforeseen obstacles. Whether your support comes from a Facebook page, family members, friends, an amazing LC, or even just your own stubbornness it is essential to the success of EBF’ing. Also know that often if you feel unsupported you, yourself can do something to change it. There is no use wallowing and feeling alone in this day and age. You can have an amazing support system with one click of your mouse. You have the right and the responsibility to change things you don’t like. Never play the poor pitiful victim card because it has no value. Stand up for what you want! Change your situation.
I thought breast feeding would be easy.
I’ve said it, and nearly every other mama has said it too! I still remember the moment I realized it took work. Your poor bleeding, cracked, chaffed nipples beg you to stop. Your breasts heavy, engorged. and leaking like the fountain at the Bellagio beg for what was once normal to them. There sits formula, staring you in the eye, telling you that maybe just this once, it is okay to feed your baby the pre-made bottle. That’s the moment you need to step back and breath. One day, it may be early on or months down the road, you wake up and realize that one bottle is now all bottles and you are out of the game! We know you are tired. So are we! You don’t want anyone touching you! You hurt! You ache for the alone time you once had. Breast feeding can be a battle with your old lifestyle. But that died the day you had a baby. A never ending battle with your spouse, in laws, job, friends. Most women are so uneducated, much like I was, that when they first enter the trenches of EBF they wave the white flag without knowing they are doing it.
My baby wasn’t gaining weight, My baby wouldn’t latch, My baby needed NICU time.
Whatever it is, every parent fears that they aren’t doing enough for their child, but a little education can save every one of those BFing careers. Remember that your child is perfect. Your child is unique. Your child may chunk up quickly. They may grow lengthwise first. They may even just be a big or small kid. The golden rule is to ask yourself if they are hitting milestones. Are they generally happy? Do they pee and poop? Do not doubt your capability to nourish your baby; doubt the people who disregard millions of years of human history and say baby needs a bottle.
Breast feeding is sometimes inconvenient.
I won’t lie. Breast feeding takes all your planning and throws it out the window cackling merrily all the while. It’s nearly impossible to get anywhere on time. However it can save you so much time and effort in packing and feeding and money and so on. For the first little while you feel as though you are tethered to your couch. And you are supposed to be. Society puts way more on our plates than we can deal with. You feel like you’ll never make it to the shower, let alone out of the house but baby doesn’t care how you smell. Eventually things change. Your baby changes. You learn to see the signs your baby shows when they are hungry. Or tired. Or restless. You will build patience. You will get faster and more efficient. You will rule the world! And in the next second you’ll feel like you are out of control, tired and will never see or speak to another adult human again when your spouse only left five minutes ago. But that’s just it. Give up control. Who really needs to know everything, shower every day, or talk to people? (Okay we all do but you get used to it.) Those days where you wish you were off the couch, look down at your baby. Capture the moment because these moments fly by. These memories are fleeting. It is damn inconvenient to EBF at times. But its also a damn inconvenience to have children at all. Once you breathe, relax, and live in the moment you seem to forget that fact.
You had a rough start to your EBF journey.
This is not at all an indicator of a tragic end to breast feeding. It may take some work. But you can overcome nearly every obstacle thrown your way. Sometimes though there are situations that are out of your control. There is no shame in this. No reason for guilt. Should you be ticked off? Sure. Keep loving your child. Keep affirming yourself. You are a warrior.
There are other reasons that women stop EBF. So what if you didn’t EBF this time around. Educate yourself. Lose the guilt. Give shame your middle finger with pride. Try again. You are a great mother. You nourished your child. You support and love your child.
For the mamas who genuinely want to re-establish the EBF relationship they had with their wee one know that it is hard. . It will be one of the hardest things you have ever done. It is a full time job. It has no breaks. You must work tirelessly every moment until the goal is achieved. To start the process you must first figure out what made you stop EBF. Not why you failed, that word is obsolete here. No matter what your reason for stopping, you can figure out a plan of attack to remedy the issue. Once you have dealt with those memories and figured out the solution to your problems you are ready to start the hike up the Mount Everest of breast feeding.
Just as you and your body work together through supply and demand to provide the necessary nourishment to your baby, relactation does not mimic this process. You do not have the hormonal stimulation to kick start the process and sometimes domperidone is needed. The only way to start is demand.
You never EVER put baby to breast until supply is re established. They will scream and pull away and refuse to have anything to do with even being held so long as there is not a sufficient food source. It will discourage mom and partner to no end. Holding with skin to skin without trying to get baby to nurse is best. Pumping with a medical grade pump and manually” pumping” every two hours for 20 min is how you stimulate demand.
You utilize skin to skin contact. You do these things for weeks to establish a sort of routine with your body. Only once you have established the demand can you then establish supply. If you start off the process backwards you may have short term supply, but you will not establish an EBF relationship.
Do not use herbals of any kind until you have a supply of at least 2 oz every two hours.
La Leche League recommends the following ways to help reconnect with your baby, to establish a new EBF relationship once you have established a fast flow supply:
-Try nursing when your baby is asleep or very sleepy, such as during the night or, while napping.
-Vary nursing positions. Some babies will refuse to nurse in one position but will take the breast in another.
-Nurse when in motion.
-Nurse in a quiet, darkened room or a place that is free from distractions.
-Give your baby extra attention and skin-to-skin contact, which can be comforting for both of you.
-When offering the breast, undress to the waist and clothe your baby in just a diaper when ever possible. Use a shawl or blanket around you if the room is chilly.
-Use a baby sling or a carrier to keep the baby close between attempts to nurse.
-Take warm baths together to soothe.
-Sleep together in order to provide closeness and more opportunities to nurse.
As a little side note please realize that this process can be stressful on your baby as well. If you have gone without putting your baby to the breast for a long period of time it will be an adjustment for both of you. You will need an extreme amount of patience. This is very different and separate from establishing your supply. This is complicated. This is hard. This takes a few days . There are many steps. Common sense steps. Complicated steps. If you dedicate the time and effort it takes you will achieve your goal!
During the time that you are establishing demand you should place the baby at the breast for 20-30 minutes every 2-3 hours. Including throughout the night. When you aren’t putting the baby to your breast, pump pump pump. Hand express, or pump whenever you can!
The amount of time it takes to relactate varies. The amount of time you go without breast feeding is the approximate time it takes to relactate! The amount of time also depends on how much effort and time you put in!The amount of time it may take to relactate can be more than expected if your baby is six months or older. Babies this age can be more reluctant to return to an EBF relationship. The opposite is also possible if your baby is three months or younger as they will forget the bottle faster.
Whether you are using pumped milk, donor milk, or formula, you need to wean off the bottle. Do this by removing the bottle completely and using a slower feeding method for a few days. Baby will have a complete meltdown but it doesn’t last long and each feed becomes less traumatic on parents and baby. This will prepare them for the exclusive breast transition. Start by playfully snuggling near the breast as you dropper feed. Then squirt baby in the mouth with milk from the breast and or utilizing an SNS, then full nursing. BE PATIENT. The babies reaction is saying that you are not playing by the rules. But he is capable of learning
There are many supplements you can use to help with supply once you have established demand. You can use oats, lactation cookies, fenugreek, or even prescription medications. These supplements can yield great results if used correctly and at the correct times. You need to understand that these are a quick fix and not intended for long term use. Long term use can have negative affects on your supply.
Establish demand. Establish supply. Use herbal supplements short term. Do not give up.
The most important ingredient to this recipe is stubbornness. You have what it takes.
I believe it is important to prevent the need for relactation. Seek help when you need it. Do not be afraid to ask the hard questions. You are a warrior.
Julia Young: Author
Becky Kiefer: Co-Author