Can I Breastfeed One Month After Stopping?

I receive emails regularly from breastfeeding Mamas who wish to start breastfeeding again after stopping for some time. Most of the time, the reason for stopping was that baby was born prematurely and Mom wasn’t producing much, if any, milk. Here’s what I tell those Moms–my best advice for Moms who are desperate to start breastfeeding again after stopping.

The answer is YES! You can breastfeed again one month after stopping. And I have helped many new moms do so with success!

First, understand that the number one priority is, of course, to make sure a newborn baby’s nutritional needs are met. I’m not a health professional and always urge moms to use their own best judgment of how things are going and to work closely with a lactation consultant or pediatrician when they are trying to switch back to breastfeeding again.

Know this: you aren’t alone. It’s not uncommon for babies who are born early to either be unable to suckle at his mom’s breast or not have the opportunities necessary to develop mom’s milk supply. For example, if the newborn baby had to spend any time in the NICU or a similar circumstance where he is away from his mother for periods of time.

It can take A LOT of breastfeeding sessions (where baby actually suckles the nipple) in those first few days of life before the mom’s body stimulates all the sensory and chemical reactions needed to start producing milk. It’s no surprise then, that a mother whose baby does not get those sessions will not start making milk as quickly as she would had she been able to nurse her baby frequently.

Of course, there are many other reasons that a mom may need to stop breastfeeding. Here are some other common causes for breastfeeding cessation:

  • Mother required medical attention and couldn’t feed or pump
  • Baby was not gaining weight appropriately due to inadequate breast milk quality
  • Baby has a lip or tongue tie
  • Baby has torticollis and feels pain, cries when nursing
  • Mother feared she wasn’t producing enough and decided to (or was pressured to) formula feed until her supply stabilized

How to Go Back to Breastfeeding After Bottle Feeding

late breastfeeding and relactation

This post is geared toward mothers and babies who do not have an ongoing medical concern that hinders breastfeeding and/or babies who have had lip and tongue ties addressed and/or corrected. This post is for moms who truly desire to breastfeed again and will do what it takes to exclusively breastfeed their baby. Returning to breast milk takes some work and dedication on the mother’s part, as well as patience, but it can be done–maybe quicker than you think!

To start, believe in yourself and in your body. You have all the “equipment” to breastfeed your child! In fact, even adoptive mothers have success with breastfeeding babies that aren’t even biologically theirs! If they can breastfeed a baby not born to them, you certainly can breastfeed the one you birthed.

Try to nurse at every cue. Look for signs that your baby is hungry. Hunger cues are movements of the mouth and tongue, crying that isn’t due to a dirty diaper or being hot or cold and clinched fists. Even if you’re only producing a small amount at first, try to let baby suckle as long as they want, at least several minutes. Then, offer the bottle of formula or expressed milk. Make sure your bottle’s nipples are the ones labeled something like “most natural” or “just like a real nipple”. I recommend these which you can get online at Walmart.

Establishing a milk supply happens by way of supply-and-demand, or as I say, demand-and-supply. The more your baby nurses, the more milk your body will produce.

Be aware of and ready for cluster feeding. Cluster feeding is a complex, difficult, wonderful thing that is a part of breastfeeding. Unfortunately, many mothers in the early stages of breastfeeding misunderstand their baby’s cries as a sign that baby isn’t get enough to eat and ultimately that’s why they quit breastfeeding!

If your newborn baby cries anytime you take them off the breast and then cries until they can suckle again, rest assured this is normal! This is a necessary stage of breastfeeding and it happens MANY times in the first year of life. My best advice is to hunker down and let baby nurse as long and as often as they demand. Cluster feeding is crucial for your milk supply to keep up with what baby needs. It’s nature’s way of saying “we’re ready for this type of milk now”.

Cluster feeding normally lasts several days, rarely a full week so believe me, even though you won’t feel like you can survive, you will! Here’s a post a wrote on how to survive cluster feeding and what ages cluster feeding happens.

Once you really start producing some milk, usually in about a week’s time of regular breastfeeding, you can begin reducing the amount of formula your baby gets. Read more about reducing formula in my post, How to wean off formula to return to breast milk.

Don’t Spend Time Worrying

It’s so hard not to be constantly worried about how your baby is doing with breastfeeding. But, trust me, you worrying WILL NOT HELP and can actually cause the baby to feel nervous or uncomfortable during nursing sessions too. Obviously, that could hurt your chances of breastfeeding. So try to stay relaxed and welcoming, not allowing negative thoughts and energies to exist in your breastfeeding sessions.

Relax and go with it. One thing that has helped a lot of moms I talk to is to implement a Lying-In Period in that first week or two of re-establishing a milk supply. I’ve created a Lying-In Guide you can get for free!

I also recommend that you read the following posts in the order they’re in below to increase your chances of exclusively breastfeeding! Good luck Mama!

when is it too late to breastfeed

Read more about late starts to breastfeeding and a list of ways to relactate fast!

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