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What Is Relactation? Breastfeeding Doesn't Have To End

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Choosing to breastfeed is a commitment that requires a mom's mind, body, and soul to come together to provide nutrition for her child, but sometimes things can get in the way and put an end to her breastfeeding. If a mom's body stops the process of lactation, are you able to get it back? What is relactation?

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Sarah Lester from Naturally the Best Lactation Services, tells Romper that relactation is the process of restarting lactation. "Relactating is when you begin to lactate again, either for the same baby or a different baby. This could include lactating for someone else's baby, your birth child, or an adopted child," she says.

According to the Association for Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM), a mom might want to relactate after a gap of days, weeks, or years, because she might have stopped earlier than she planned, she may have faced an illness that separated her from the baby, or she simply might have changed her mind. For moms who weaned, they may also discover that their baby is intolerant to formula, making mom want to relactate, or if she adopted a baby, she may want to try relactation to breastfeed.

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Most women, about 75 to 98 percent, can successfully relactate, as noted by Mother Love, and require proper breastfeeding support. Mother Love explained that there are two main components to relactation. The first component is bringing back milk supply, which can be done by feeding, pumping, and emptying breasts frequently, and using a supplemental nursing system if needed. The second part, their website noted, is to keep your baby at the breast with skin-to-skin contact, because it can boost milk making hormones and considerably improve chances of relactating.

If you have stopped breastfeeding, for whatever reason, you should know that it's entirely possible to start again if you choose to. Talking to an IBCLC can provide you with the support and guidance you need to make the journey of relactation a successful one.