Breastfeeding can be challenging for many new moms, whether it’s baby #1 or baby #4. Sometimes, when nursing and pumping aren’t going well, a mom may decide to stop breastfeeding. But what happens if after you stop you decide you want to start again? We asked Stephanie Canale, M.D., a family physician at UCLA and co-founder of Lactation Lab if it’s possible to resume breastfeeding after a period of time.
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A MamasUncut fan asks:
My baby is six weeks old. I stopped pumping and breast feeding two weeks ago. I’ve been giving my baby milk that I saved and froze. I’m now almost out of what I had in the freezer and I’m feeling so sad that I won’t have breastmilk anymore. (I know … stupid me!) Is it even possible to get a supply back after two weeks. What can I do ?
Dr. Canale says:
The good news: it is possible to get your supply back after two weeks but it will take a lot of work. If you’re up for it, great! If your’e not, that’s OK, too. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you and baby are healthy and happy — whether that’s with breastmilk or with formula.
If you would like to try to resume breastfeeding, there is no better breast pump than baby. Relax, drink plenty of fluids and then begin nursing baby at every feed. If latch is or has been an issue, I would recommend seeing a lactation consultant who can observe a nursing session and assist with latch and positioning. (Note: your local hospital may offer free or low-cost lactation services and some lactation consultants may be in-network with your insurance company. Always ask!) You will likely need to supplement after nursing until your supply increases, so plan to have a bottle on hand.
If you’re unable or prefer not to breastfeed, try power pumping. There are many variations on this but the general idea is to pump every two to three hours. (I mentioned it was a lot of work!) While pumping, try changing the speed and and plan to stick with it for up to 30 mins even if there is no milk. Don’t be discouraged if at first there is no milk or very little milk. That’s to be expected. The idea with power pumping is that it should stimulate the breast enough over time to give breastfeeding one last go!
I would also recommend increasing your food intake by 500-1,000 calories per day. Making breastmilk consumes a lot of energy! Your supply can’t increase if you aren’t giving your body the tools it needs to do the work. Also make sure you are drinking at least 8 (8oz) glasses of water a day. Breastmilk requires fluid and it’s important to ensure you aren’t dehydrated!
Editorial Director of MamasUncut. Currently back on the East Coast. Most days spent chasing after two young kids and our very patient rescue mutt. Learning that parenting never really gets easier it just gets … different. Love running and water views. Also all the coffee.