Relactation Story

A mum recently sent us her amazing story to share.

She writes

“You don’t realise how hard breastfeeding is until you have given birth and then try to feed your beautiful new born. Some women have no dramas whilst others encounter problems learning to get that perfect latch, dealing with cracked nipples and then when your milk comes in, engorgement.

I began breastfeeding my little boy within an hour of giving birth and that first latch was so painful. I had latching sorted out after about 10 feeds and yet it was still very painful. On day two my milk came through and I got massively engorged, then came the cracked bleeding nipples and no matter what I did nothing eased the pain. After a week or so I ended up having to express milk on my right side, which was cracked the worst and needed a chance to heal, then gave him the milk via bottle.

I continued breastfeeding for two weeks but then ended up making a rash decision to stop and formula feed him. I was fine with this decision until my milk dried up and I then regretted my decision to formula feed him.

During the month he was being formula fed I had been doing some research and heard about a process called re-lactation and after a few weeks decided I wanted to give it a try.

I contacted Frances from Breastmates via email to get more information about it she was excellent told me everything I needed to know and a week later I built up the courage to contact a Lactation Consultant to put my plan into action.

Yvonne (lactation consultant) was lovely and said it can be done but will take a lot of work and patience which I was willing to put in a 110% effort into, she explained I would need to do a lot of skin to skin contact with baby to get the Oxytocin, which is a natural feel good chemical in women that happens during and after labour, I would need to pump every three hours using an electronic double pump for 15mins and then put him to the breast for that all important sucking to help stimulate the breast to produce milk.

I was so happy and confident after speaking to Yvonne on the phone I went and did some skin to skin with baby and after only five minutes he started searching for the breast! I was so amazed and excited I latched him on and he started sucking and went for a couple of minutes until he got upset because nothing was coming out, but it was a start!!

Yvonne came to see us the next day and we began going through the steps to re-lactate and I started double pumping for 15mins every three hours. The next day I went to the doctors to get a prescription of Domperidone which is used to help with lactation.

Yvonne kept in contact via phone and visited once a week to see how we were getting on. I did a lot of skin to skin contact everyday and put him to the breast before feeds and every time he was upset. We tried a Lact-Aidwhich is a feeding device that has a bottle for milk and a hose that tapes to the breast and sits on the nipple and goes into baby’s mouth when he latches on, that didn’t really work for us as he didn’t like it and it was hard and annoying to use.

There were a few times where it got really hard and if I wasn’t as committed as I was and didn’t have the support that I had it would have been easy to give up, but I just had to keep telling myself it wont be forever. It took four days to start getting any milk out and at first I was getting only 5mls then over the next couple of days I was getting 10mls. By day eight I was getting between 95 to 105mls from a days pumping and by week three I was getting between 250mls and 310mls of breast milk a day. By this time we started to phase out the bottles of formula to two a day, one in the morning and one at night and breastfeed him on demand during the day.

We had a few ups and downs so when he refused to go on I would give him breast milk from a bottle. I stopped the morning bottle of formula the following week so it was just one bottle of formula at night. At one point he was going on every hour and he would bite and pull “man that was painful” but I kept with it and that only lasted for two weeks. I had Plunket come round every two weeks to check his weight gain which he remained healthy throughout.

He’s now fully breastfeed and is gaining weight perfectly and is a happy 5month old boy. We still get times were he refuses and tries to be difficult but hey that’s kids!

I want to say a big thankyou to my family and Yvonne for all your support, and to Frances for going out of her way to emailing me back with the information, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you all.

Andrea Taylor