I am not going to emphasize on the importance of breastfeeding for babies. I believe we ALL know that. Just that nowadays, there are too many circumstances that mothers encounter that prohibit them from breastfeeding or allowing them to continue breastfeeding for as long as the baby needs it. I am a believer of breastfeeding and I would like to be able to continue providing milk to little Spanish Pinay as much as I can. The battle against circumstances, social pressure, etc is hard but I swear on my most sumptuous chocolates I will try my best!
It makes me feel glad to hear another mom doing her best as well to produce milk for her little one. A friend of a friend is trying to go back to breastfeeding and so I am putting here an excerpt about re-lactating I've read from a good book about lactation. The book by Un Regalo Para Toda La Vida by Carlos Gonzalez is really a good book for those who wants good information about lactation. I've translated the excerpt as best as I can... I hope I won't get sued, no? I did mention the source so this is not plagiarism! :-D
"I've stopped breastfeeding since a few weeks already. Can start breastfeeding again?"
Yes. It is possible to stop providing unnecessary formula and go back to breastfeeding exclusively, even when the baby hasn't been breastfed for weeks or even months or even when the baby hasn't breastfeed from the beginning.
Perhaps, your baby was born premature or was sick and couldn't be breastfed. Or perhaps you have decided not to breastfeed but has now changed your opinion. Or probably you were recommended to stop breastfeeding because the baby is not gaining weight and then proved that with the formula, the baby gained weight just the same as when he was being breastfed or even lesser...
The process is usually named as re-lactation. There are two things to achieve: to produce milk and for the baby to suck. The two objectives are interrelated, but they are relatively independent. The baby would probably suck more if some milk will come out but it is not essential: No milk ever comes out from pacifiers but babies suck pacifiers well; then why wouldn't they suck an empty breast? On the other side, more milk will be produced if baby sucks more but just the same, it's not essential: you can also stimulate milk production by pumping milk, either by hand or using a breast pump.
Of course at the beginning, only few milk will come out or none at all. You have to to have patience and perseverance. Do not work on it too much until the breast gets swolen though; it is better to try pumping for 5-10 mins every time, but repeat the process 8-10 times a day or more if yo have time and willingness to do so.
Producing milk is relatively easy; if one tries it constantly, one will end up producing milk. One thing is for the baby to suck since of course, that doesn't depend on the mom anymore. If the baby doesn't want to, he won't. The younger the baby, the easier he will end up latching or breastfeeding; babies younger than 4 months the success rate for baby to start breastfeeding is higher than babies who are more than 4 months old. There are some mothers who's able to produce milk but couldn't get their babies to latch and suck; they'd have to provide the milk using a glass or mixing it with liquid cereals. In any case, there were babies who are more than a year old already and started being breastfed again. It's always worth it to try.
Sometimes it is enough to just put the baby near the breast, and it will just start to suck naturally, even if it has been weeks already without doing so. But most of the times, the baby that is already used to formulas rejects breast or doesn't know what to do with it. Don't ever try to let the baby get too hungry in the hope that the baby will feel obligated to drink from the breast just because he's already too hungry. First of all, because it means lack of respect and secondly, because that just doesn't work....
I am ending the excerpt here as I can see my little one blinking her eyes already from her nap and that I believe the more important information about re-lactation has been mentioned already. I do really hope that she'll be able to get back into breastfeeeding.
I aso do hope mothers can get more support from the government and from the society about getting more information on breastfeeding. Sometimes it is just a matter of getting the right information and the right guidance to be able to achieve this. It is not hard and it is not impossible to do. Sometimes it seems that being able to breastfeed is such a big ordeal nowadays that if you are able to do it, people are in awe.. when in fact it is the most natural and primitive way. No big science behind it. Just motherhood.