Friday, January 11, 2013

What is Relactation?

"What is relactation? Can I do it? Does it cost a lot? Is it hard? I switched to formula at 2 months after a rocky breastfeeding experience and double mastitis. Every now and then my 15 month old acts like she could nurse. Is there anything I can do?"

Relactation is the process of bringing the child back to the breast for breastfeeding after a prolonged period of using other milk substitutes or even weaning. It's definitely possible and in my opinion always worth a try, but success depends on a myriad of individual factors such as why weaning occurred (medical reasons, tongue tie, trauma) and how relactation fits into the mother's lifestyle.

Complete relactation, with a full supply and the child being dependent on breastmilk alone will take a lot of effort and committed time. The original reason for weaning needs to be identified and resolved, and the mother's body needs to be encouraged to begin making milk again.

It doesn't have to be expensive at all. Some products you might want to buy include a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) that allows you to feed donor milk or formula through a small tube while the child is latched at the breast. This in turn makes things more efficient for you since you can feed your child and tell your body to make more milk. Galactogogues, substances such as herbs or medications that induce lactation, might also need to be purchased.

Here is Lexie excitedly sharing her first experience of successful relactation with her 2.5 year old daughter, Zoey, after not nursing for over one year. She says what really helped was having a great support system and online friends who helped and encouraged her.

Interested in relactating?

Kellymom has a great intro article:

Guess what? This is a normal topic. Even the AAP gives info on relactation here:

The LLL's page:


  1. OMG thank you for writing this!!!! I exclusively pumped for my now almost 1 year old for 6 months before no longer responding to the pump and wasnt emotionally in the place to fight to up my supply. We could not latch and nurse due to complications of him being preemie. I am now contemplation relactation and eping for him again since he has been constantly sick since we have had him on formula only (unable to obtain donor milk due to were we live).

  2. Congrats Lexie & Zoey! I'm so happy for you both!

  3. With all due respect, but I'm wondering why would you do relactation for a 2.5yr old? I I thought bf was until age until 1 yrs old. Are there really any benefits to a child at this age? Or is it just for Moms comfort?

    1. Breastmilk has so many benefits to anyone it doesn't matter the age.