I once got a call from a desperate mom who had just returned from a vacation in the Carribean. It was the first time she had been separated from her seven-month-old breastfed baby. She didn’t want to wean yet, so she had planned to pump her milk while she was on her trip.
We had communicated via email before she left about how often she needed to pump to keep up her milk supply. However, her carefully laid out plans went awry when her pump stopped working two days into the seven day vacation.
The island she was on was a small one, and there was no place for her to buy a replacement pump. This poor mom went through a few uncomfortable days as her milk dried up.
She called me as soon as she got home and wanted to know if there was anything she could do to get her milk back. I was able to give her hope when I suggested she try relactating.
Relactation is the process of producing milk after weaning. I am currently talking to a couple of women who are interested in relactating. While this may sound crazy to some, there are many instances when a woman might make this decision.
Why a Mom Would Want to Relactate
There are many different reasons why a woman stops breastfeeding and then after a period of time decides she wants to make milk again.
A mom switches to formula, and her baby does not tolerate it.
A mom stops breastfeeding because she was given bad advice. She realizes it was bad advice after she weans and wants to try breastfeeding again.
Weaning is unintentional. Like the mom, I mentioned whose pump died on vacation. Another example of this would be if a mom had to have emergency surgery, and nobody thought to have her pump.
Babies go through periods of being very distracted during breastfeeding. Moms often misinterpret this as a sign the baby wants to wean. After a week or so, the baby wants to breastfeed, but the milk has dried up.
A woman wants to provide milk for another child:
A relative or close friend’s child if mom can’t breastfeed for some reason.
If you are considering or have made the decision to relactate, you may be wondering how exactly you would go about getting your milk making abilities back in business.
There are many variables that can have an impact on how successful a woman’s relactation efforts are. Overall, the prognosis is encouraging.
Factors That Will Affect Success With Relactating
How long it has been since your baby was born. Relactation is more successful when it is done closer to the time of birth.
How long you breastfed before weaning. It will be easier if you breastfed for a longer time.
If you had a full milk supply
How long you exclusively breastfed
How long it has been since you weaned from breastfeeding. The longer it has been, the more challenging it will be.
If you don’t have any medical conditions that would cause a low milk supply. Examples would be thyroid problems or PCOS.
How to Relactate
Breast stimulation is critical for relactation. You have to tell your body to make milk. Your breasts need stimulation from breastfeeding or pumping or a combination of the two. If you don’t have baby for stimulation, in the case you may be adopting a baby and want to start lactation, you can stimulate your breasts by using a massaging tool or a pump to stimulate lactation.
If it has only been a short time since you weaned, you should start breastfeeding again and see how your body responds. The problem with that approach is that a baby may not want to breastfeed if there is no milk. In that case, you would start pumping.
You want to use a good, strong pump. I would recommend renting a hospital grade pump if it has been more than a few weeks since you last breastfed. A personal pump may not be up to the job.
Hands-on pumping helps moms make more milk. It involves massaging and compressing your breasts during pumping and doing hand expression right after pumping. This manual pump also works really well.
The more times you provide stimulation by breastfeeding and or pumping, the faster you will start to make milk. It will be more effective if the stimulation occurs at regular intervals around the clock. Pumping eight times a day, every three hours, will work better than eight times in eight hours.
If it has been a long time since you last made milk, you may need more than just breast stimulation. In a situation like this, you will want to work with a qualified lactation professional and a physician, as well as use milk-boosting products to promote breast health. Milk Dust is an amazing product for this because of the nutrients and herb combination.
There are pharmaceuticals that can help convince your body to make milk. This option should be discussed with your health care providers.
How Do You Know If Your Efforts to Relactate are Working
Your breasts will feel firmer as they start to fill up with milk.
If your baby is going to the breast, you will start to hear swallowing during feedings.
If you are pumping, you will start to see milk.
Breastfeeding Products That Can Help With Relactation
If your baby is not interested in breastfeeding because there is not any milk, you can try using a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS). This is a device that you wear around your neck that holds milk. There is a tube that goes from the SNS bottle that you can tape to your nipple. When your baby latches on and sucks, he will get milk. This encourages him to suck more, and that helps stimulate your milk-making hormones.
Foods and Dietary Supplements That Help Moms Make Milk
You will want to assist your milk-making efforts in every way you can. Avoid foods that can suppress milk production. This would include peppermint, sage, and parsley.
Some foods that encourage milk production are oatmeal, fennel, brewer’s yeast, whole grains, dark green vegetables, chickpeas, and flaxseed. A great way to promote milk production is to make a smoothie every day with some of these foods and a protein powder like Milk Dust.
Milk Dust contains milk production boosting foods like flaxseed, fennel, fenugreek, brewer’s yeast, milk thistle. Smoothies are a convenient way to pack a lot of nutrition into an easy to prepare meal.
Dietary supplements that encourage milk production include fenugreek, moringa, goat’s rue and shatavari. It is best to work with a lactation consultant if you are interested in taking dietary supplements.
Breastfeeding moms are busy people. They are also hungry people. That’s not surprising. It takes a lot of calories to grow a person! But what a feeling of satisfaction you get when you look at your baby. How empowering is it to know that you can take credit for every cell in their little body? Of course, you are probably hungry the whole time you are looking into their eyes, wanting to eat any sweet snack available.
Snacks are also an important part of a nursing mom’s daily food intake. Ready to eat snacks that are nutritious are a time-saving necessity. Snacks that are a yummy treat are the bonus all milk making moms deserve.
What to look for in a packaged lactation snack:
The good news is that there are many lactation snacks to choose from. There are so many that it can be overwhelming. I’m going to make it easy for you. Here is a list of the best lactation snacks to buy.
Ingredients That Help Boost Milk Production
Oatmeal – Moms have relied on oatmeal to help them have a good milk supply for years. In addition to it being an excellent base for snacks, oatmeal can be a meal in itself. This hearty grain can also be added to smoothies and even meatloaf.
Brewer’s yeast is another traditional milk producing ingredient that can be added to many recipes.
Flaxseed is a superfood that supports milk production. It also has those all-important omega-3 fatty acids. It is another multi-tasking ingredient that can be added to just about any dish you are preparing.
Protein is also really important for breastfeeding mothers, but hard to find in packaged snacks. Most packaged snacks are higher in carbs, sugar and calories, but lacking in protein. That is why we can’t wait for these lactation protein bars to come out!
Lactation Snack Checklist When Shopping:
You want to choose snack foods that have ingredients that support a good milk supply.
Individually packaged lactation snacks make it easy to keep them in your purse and baby bag.
Look for snacks that have protein and fiber.
The Best Lactation Snack Bars
Snack bars have become a mainstay in our diet. They are convenient, and there are abundant choices. In a pinch, they can even serve as a meal replacement.
These are some of my favorite lactation snack bars.
Booby Bars are made with those milk boosting favorites, oats, and flaxseed. They also contain an herb blend that includes organic moringa leaf and organic Shatavari root. These are herbals that moms often use to help increase their milk production. Each bar has 4 gm each of protein and fiber and is 240 calories. (I can’t wait for these protein bars to be on the market! They offer more protein and less calories!)
Booby Bars are available in three different flavors. This milk boosting lactation bar was featured on Shark Tank and was created by a woman who is an RN and an IBCLC. And let’s be honest, the name is fun to say!
Sweetie Pie Lactation Bars contain the popular milk-making herb, Fenugreek. You can choose from either Oats and Almonds or Chocolate, Oats and Almonds. They advertise that they are made from only clean ingredients and have 6 gm of protein and 4 gm of fiber and are 220 calories.
Milkmakers make lactation bars with oats, almonds, and flaxseed. These are perfect for mamas who don’t want any herbs in their bars.
You can choose from two varieties: chocolate chip or mixed berry. The great thing about these bars is that they are free of dairy, soy, eggs, and gluten. They are 200 calories and have 6 gm of protein and 4 gm of fiber.
Top-Rated Lactation Cookies
Who doesn’t love a good cookie? There are so many choices available for these tasty lactation treats.
Milkmakers Lactation Cookie Bites has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon from almost 2000 reviews. They have a variety of flavors to choose from. Each box contains ten convenient bags that you can put in your purse or diaper bag.
MilkBliss lactation cookies have the popular three milk production enhancing ingredients, oats, flaxseed, and brewer’s yeast. Each cookie is 140 calories, has 2 gm of protein, and 1 gm of fiber. There are 12 cookies in a bag.
Dark Chocolate Chip
Mommy Knows Best Lactation Cookies come in some unique varieties. These cookies are larger than most, but if you check the label, you will see that a serving is half a cookie.
Snacking as a breastfeeding mama is really important to proper nourishment and energy levels, so choosing high-quality, milk-boosting snacks is key. We also highly suggest this protein lactation powder, which you can mix in water or milk and take on the go too!
With all these lactation snack suggestions, you will never go hungry, mama!
Some pumps can pump one breast only. A double pump will allow a mom to pump both breasts at the same time. This is a time saver. Single pumps are more affordable, so if you don’t need to pump that often, and don’t need to worry about milk supply, a single pump might be a great way to go.
Also, double pumping creates higher surges in prolactin. Prolactin is a key hormone involved in making milk.
Some moms may have a double pump and only need to pump one breast at times. Other moms want the suction strength of a double electric pump but prefer to pump one breast at a time. The vast majority of double pumps provide this alternative. Be sure to read the instructions, though. There may be specific things that need to be done to the pump so it will operate properly when only single pumping.
Battery Operated Breast Pumps
Some pumps work with regular batteries. These are often single pumps.
Other battery-operated pumps like the Willow and Elvie are rechargeable. These two pumps are hands-free and worn inside your bra. Hands-free pumps like these are good options for busy moms or working moms who want to pump more frequently but don’t want to take a full break.
These pumps are not silent, so you probably wouldn’t want to wear them during a meeting. But if you want to multi-task when you are working on a computer, this type of pump is an excellent way to do that.
Double Electric Breast Pumps
Double electric pumps are a popular option because they allow you to pump both breasts at the same time, and you don’t have to worry about recharging them. You do need access to an electric outlet or car charger. Using a car charger usually requires a special adapter.
When using a double electric pump using a pumping bra will enable you to pump hands-free.
Spectra breast pumps are very highly rated on Amazon. I have gotten very good feedback from moms about this brand of pump.
Be Flexible When Deciding Which Is The Right Pump For You
While you may have an idea about how pumping will look for you, it may change after your baby arrives. Some Moms didn’t plan to pump much at all and ended up needed to pump exclusively. Some moms planned to exclusively and after their baby was born decided instead to breastfeed primarily.
Most pumps cannot be returned once they have been opened. For that reason, I do not recommend opening the pump until your baby has arrived, and you are going to start pumping.
When Should You Consider Renting a Breast Pump?
A hospital-grade rental pump is the best choice when a baby is not breastfeeding at all. It also should be considered if a baby is not feeding effectively.
A premature baby
A sick baby who is unable to breastfeed
A mom who plans to exclusively pump right from the start
A baby who is small or has a physical condition resulting in ineffective feeding.
Cleft lip or palate
Other neurological or physical conditions that interfere with effective feeding
Pumps For Moms Who Are Exclusive Pumping
I would advise a mom who is going to be exclusively pumping to start with a hospital-grade rental pump. She should use this for the first month of pumping. A rental pump will provide her optimal stimulation while she is establishing her milk supply.
If she wants to transition to a purchased pump, I recommend that she keep the rental for the first week that she is using the purchased pump. This will allow her time to see if the purchased pump is enough to maintain her supply.
Most breast pumps sold are considered to be a personal item from a hygienic standpoint. They are intended for one mom to use for one baby.
I do not recommend using a personal pump that has been used by someone else. There are two reasons for this.
Personal pumps have a motor that will operate at maximum function for a certain period of time. After a while, they will wear out. My experience has been that most of the time, there is a slow decline in function as opposed to the pump just stops working altogether. A failing pump can result in reduced milk production when pumping.
Another reason I don’t recommend used pumps is that bacteria and viruses can be transmitted by breast milk. This can depend on how the pump is made. I have heard of people taking them apart and finding mold growing inside the pump. Since this is your baby’s food, you don’t want to take chances.
I have had people tell me that the used pump they were getting had barely been used. I worked with one client who told me that. I had worked with the mom who sold her the pump, and I knew that first mom was using that pump several times a day for eight months. I guess people have different definitions of what barely used means.
For all these reasons, I do not recommend getting a pump that has been used by anyone else.
Rental pumps are made in such a way that contamination is not a concern. Their motors are manufactured to last for heavy-duty use for years.
Now that you know what to consider when choosing the right pump for you, it is time to start shopping!
Getting a good latch when you start breastfeeding is not only important; it is essential. Understanding what a good latch is, and knowing tricks to a successful latch is even more important.
A proper latch will make the difference between breastfeeding that hurts and pain-free nursing. Some moms know that their latch is not good, but they say they just want the baby to get on the breast. They are willing to suck it up (no pun intended) and bear with any pain they are feeling.
However, A bad latch doesn’t just affect nipple pain. A shallow latch can prevent your baby from being able to get enough milk. I tell moms that taking the time to latch correctly results in a win-win situation for both her and her baby.
How to Get a Deep Latch Every Time You Breastfeed
Follow these steps, and you should be able to breastfeed your baby with a smile on your face.
Position baby so he is facing you.
This will be “tummy to tummy” in the cradle, cross-cradle and side-lying positions
In Football hold, your baby’s tummy should be facing the side of your body.
Your baby’s nose should be directly across from your nipple (“nose to nipple”).
Firmly support his neck and shoulders with your hand.
Keep your hand off the back of your baby’s head. This helps you avoid pushing his head down towards his chest instead of in towards your breast.
Hold your breast, so it is shaped like a sandwich.
Your thumb should be across from his nose and your index finger across from his lower lip.
Touch your baby’s upper lip with your nipple.
Just rest it there, don’t move it back and forth.
Wait for baby to open his mouth wide.
Pull him into your breast quickly and closely.
Remember to bring your baby to your breast and not move your breast to the baby.
Look for These Signs of a Good Latch
It shouldn’t hurt after the first 10-20 sucks. Count them to help distract from any pain you might feel initially.
It might be uncomfortable with the first few sucks, as your baby draws the nipple to the back of her mouth.
Your baby’s chin should be pressed into your breast.
His nose should not be pushed into your breast. There should be a space between his nose and your breast or just barely touching it.
Nipple pain is one of the most common reasons moms give up breastfeeding. Who can blame them? It is miserable to do something eight or more times a day when it causes toe-curling pain.
Unrelieved nipple pain can also lead a mom to decide to pump exclusively. This is a solution that works for some moms, but it is also very time-consuming. If nipple pain is making you consider this option, try these latching tips first. They can make all the difference in the world.
It is incredible how powerful a little newborn’s suck is. You are definitely going to feel a strong sensation. It should feel like a tug. It should not be a pinching sensation.
A good, deep latch should eliminate nipple pain. If you have cracks or blisters on your nipples, they should start to heal quickly after latching better.
If nipple pain does not go away, you should see a lactation consultant. She can evaluate if something like a tongue-tie or abnormal sucking behavior is causing the pain. These are things that cannot be diagnosed just by looking at a baby latch. A thorough evaluation of their mouth, tongue, and suck needs to be performed.
Things to Make Getting a Good Latch Easier
Your baby will be easier to latch if you feed him when he is hungry. Watch for his hunger cues.
Opening and closing his mouth
Turning his head when you stroke his cheek
Smacking his lips
Sucking on his hands
Make yourself comfortable.
Use pillows, so baby is at a comfortable height, and you don’t have to hunch over. Nursing pillows are great, but regular pillows work too.
A baby’s hands are an essential part of his feeding behavior. Mittens can confuse him.
When Baby’s Hands Get In the Way
It is frustrating to mom when their baby tries to suck on his hands when she is trying to latch him. If your baby does this, don’t push his hands away.
He is sucking on them for a reason. It is how he calms and organizes himself. Keep touching his upper lip with your nipple. After a few seconds, most babies will let go of their hands and open their mouth for mom’s breast.
The first few weeks of breastfeeding are a time of learning. The curve is a steep one. Before you know it, you will be latching easily in the middle of the night without even thinking about it!
There you have all the best tips and tricks for a good latch, and what that means.
There are some very important breastfeeding essentials that make life much easier as a new mommy. Breastfeeding can be stressful, complicated, painful and rewarding. There are some top products on the market now, that breastfeeding mommies can use to increase milk supply, pump more milk, make breastfeeding less painful, and find more comfort in breastfeeding your baby.
Our list is comprised of breastfeeding essentials that have been used and rated by breastfeeding mothers, and that hold up to our standards on being high quality, comfortable, well-manufactured, successful and the ablility to make life much easier. These are the breastfeeding products that have ranked as the best products for breastfeeding moms.
When looking into the top hands-free pumps, we felt that the Elvie Pump because of the amazing reviews on their website. They offer a single or double, so you can do one side at a time, while nursing baby on the other. Many of the mothers who’ve used this product report that they were able to pump easily, hands-free, and sliently.
There is an Elvie Pump app, that hleps monitor milk supply volume when pumping, as well as control the pump remotely.
The pump is also very smart. It swtiches modes from stimulation to expression when it senses a let-down, so you can get the most out of your pump session. There is a 90-day warranty, and it does qualify for HSA/FSA.
The Haakaa is a newer manual breast pump that is helping many woman pump more milk. The Haakaa has thousands of top-rated reviews on Amazon, and we completley agree with all of them. Many mothers are surprised at how a simple product can bring them such a great supply, and we have experienced the same.
Best Breastfeeding Cover:
This breastfeeding cover is affordable, ranked as Amazon’s #1 choice, and we’ve tried it. It is comfortable, easy to wash, can be used as an infant seat cover, and comes in many different colors and patterns.
The Elvie Pump doesn’t come with storage bags. Teh milk is collected into the resuseable pump bottles, which then the milk can be poured into various types of storage bags, and we think these are the best on the market.
We love that these ones can go straight into a bottle, so you don’t have to pour them into a bottle. You can connect them to the Kiinde bottles, and have the baby feed directly from the bag. They also have a twist-top, which keeps your milk more portected from spilling. We also love that you can pump directly into the bag (with this adapter for various pumps), which saves breastfeeding mamas a precious few extra minutes of work. There were some reports of issues with the seal on a few of the Amazon reviews, but we didn’t experience that issue. We found these bags to be easier to use, and less leaking than the standard bags.
This pump has is very similar to our runner up, but we felt this one was so affordable. Many mamas want a breast pump as a back up, or when needed, and don’t need an expensive caddilac version. Our runner up has thousands of positive reviews, and our first choice is newer, but Amazon is offering a coupon with this product, which makes it even more affordable. The pumps are light weight, easy to assemble, easy to clean, and don’t take up a lot of space when packing and carrying.
This is a great, well-reviewed protable breast pump. Many working mamas pump while on-the-go, mainly driving. One mama in our group would pump for twins at home on the way to work, and on the way home. Sometimes it is easier to have a pump for the car, and one main one at home. It saves time and transporting various equipment moving from place to place. This pump is light, simple and affordable to use when you need it. It has hundreds of positive reviews, and we felt it did exactly what it was supposed to do.
The Sarah Wells Abby Breast Pump Bag is made specifically for breastfeeding mamas wanting a bag that is a little more stylish than the standard pump bag. It is high-quality, easy to clean, well reviewed, and super classy. There are a few different designs and patterns, but the classic black looks so clean and classy, we decided this was our best choice for the luxury pump bag option.
This is a great, simple pump bag with back pack straps to make it easier to carry around. It is light-weight, easy to care for, and has the right amount of compartments for all the things. It is easy to keep clean with a bottom cooler spot to keep all the milk. A really great buy for pumping mamas.
Knowing if your bottles are clean is really important. Being ablel to properly clean them yourself is hard as a breastfeeding mommy. This system is a complete steam that is a higher temperature than your dishwasher, which is why it is really an awesome product to have.
This is a hands-free pumping bra by Bravado! designs, which we’ve been fortunate to be able to try. They make high-quality, soft nursing and pumping bras that hold up to the demands of frequent use. There are mulitple colors available, and hundreds of positive reviews from pumping mamas.
This nursing bra by Kindred Braverly is a top-rated, comfortable and well-made nursing bra that mothers love, and we do too. It is described as the most comfortable nursing bra, and we agree. There are many styles and colors, which helps keep it personal and fun as well.
These are fabulous milk catchers, that will help you save all the milk you can. We recommend these because they are efficient, pour easily into storge bags, and have amazing reviews. A fairlly new design, we were very impressed how well they worked.
We highly recommend this lactation protein powder, which is formulated for weight loss as well. Many mamas struggle with sugar cravings, weight loss, nourishment and milk supply. This powder tastes amazing, blends as a smoothie, mixes with water or milk, and makes the perfect snack or meal replacement.
This is our list of the top breastfeeidng essentials. There are numerous products we can recommend, but these are the essentials that every breastfeeding mama needs to surviving and thrive.
The top-rated breastfeeding essentials every breastfeeidng mama needs.