Relacatation : Going back to Breastfeeding after Formula Feeding

Is going back to breastfeeding after formula feeding possible?

I had to supplement breastfeeding my 3 months old with formula for last 1 month due to some problem. I now want to breastfeed exclusively. Is it possible?

Relactation: Going back to breastfeeding after breastfeeding


Going back to breastfeeding after formula feeding is definitely possible but may not be easy. The process of rebuilding milk supply after breastfeeding has been stopped for some time is known as relactation.

Good thing is that you have breastfed your baby for first 2 months. Depending on how often and how much you supplemented with formula, going back to breastfeeding after formula will be an easy to not so easy process. If the supplementing was only a feed in a day or so. It may not have affected your breast milk supply too badly and you may just need to offer breast in place of bottle from now on.

Important thing is to understand how the body produces milk. Milk production is a mother’s body is directly related to how much milk is being consumed. So, if you want your body to produce more milk, you must empty your breasts more often either by feeding the baby or by pumping and storing the milk. It is not going to be easy and may take several days and it will certainly require persistence.

If the amount of formula replaced many breastfeeding sessions, it may take longer and could be a slow process.

Keep in mind below points to make it a smooth transition from bottle to exclusive breastfeeding:

Be patient

Accept the fact that the process will take time and do not expect miracles. Remember that start will be slow and once your baby has started accepting the breast and your milk supply is restored, progress will be much faster. It may take several weeks for your milk supply to restore completely.

Do not stress

Stressing over how much or less milk your breasts are producing will not help.  Infact, studies have shown that stress may affect the milk production adversely. Once you have accepted the fact that the process of relactation takes time, you will be more relaxed and your body will respond to stimuli better.

Keep at it

Persistence is the key when it comes to relactation. It will be tough few days at first but must provide as much stimulation to your breasts as possible. So offer your baby the breast first whenever she is hungry and only after some time if baby is still not satiated offer the bottle.

You may also keep pumping every hour or so to stimulate the breasts to produce more milk. The body increases production of milk to meet higher demand, so it is more stimulation will send signal that more milk in required.


Try different positions to help baby latch

If your baby has become used to feeding from a bottle, s/he may have trouble while going back to breastfeeding. Feeding from a bottle is much easier as they don’t really have to work as hard as when breastfeeding. So, be prepared for a few failures the first few times you offer breast after a break.

If you feel that your baby is having trouble latching on, then try different latching positions. You could also try feeding lying down or in a easy-chair.

breastfeeding positions


Make it easy for the baby

Baby may not be comfortable sucking from breasts after having it easy with the bottle.If your baby is rooting, but not able to suck, make it a little easy for baby. Try expressing a little milk before offering it to baby. If baby gets the milk initially without much effort, s/he may work harder to suck further.

Keep an eye on baby’s intake by these tips to see if your baby is getting enough breastmilk

Take help of a professional

If all these tips do not seem to work and you are too anxious, do not hesitate to consult a lactation expert. The doctor will counsel you about the breastfeeding process and also guide you about how to counter problems you are facing. 

Try foods known to increase breast milk

There are many foods which are known to increase breastmilk supply naturally. You may try those other than checking with your doctor for medicinal supplements to increase breastmilk supply.

Some foods which increase location are:

  1. Fenugreek seeds
  2. Sago (sabudana)
  3. Oatmeal
  4. Bottle gourd
  5. Garlic
  6. Ghee
  7. Milk
  8. Drum sticks
  9. Poppy seeds
  10. Almonds

Also drink plenty of water every day. Avoid having too much tea or coffee.

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One Reply to “Relacatation : Going back to Breastfeeding after Formula Feeding”

  1. Anusmita says:

    Lactation and re-lactation issues are common. Thanks for the write-up. I supplemented breast milk with formula milk quite early. There are many preconceived notions people have regarding formula milk not being good. But my baby was not latching properly and when she did I developed a rash on my breast due to which I couldn’t breast feed her for long. In our country, atleast in smaller cities there is still lack of good lactation experts. What is important is that the baby is fed properly. Formula milk should not be a taboo if the baby is digesting it properly.
    Breast feeding issues and lack of sleep create a big stress for a new mother. Thanks for the useful write-


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