Everything You Need To Know: If I Stop Breastfeeding Can I Start Again?

The Relaxation Process....Is It Possible?

It does not happen often, but there does come a time when some breastfeeding moms have to stop breastfeeding and take a short break. Sometimes it could be due to a health issue that requires Mom to take a medication unsuitable for young infants.

The brief pause can occur for a month or more depending on the reason why you have to stop breastfeeding. Usually, in these cases, if mom can't pump and store her milk, she will transition her baby over to baby formula to ensure her baby is still receiving the necessary nutrition needed to grow healthy and strong.

You may be wondering at this point, "If I stop breastfeeding can I start again?" This is the topic we will be attacking for you today.

Can you lactate after a short break? Continue reading this post to find out.

Why Stop Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is the ultimate way to feed your baby. It is the best form of nutrition out there.

The baby food commercial industry tries to reproduce all of the elements of breastmilk. It does a fairly good job but really cannot surpass the superiority of good old fashion breastmilk created by nature.

Mother nature has been manufacturing breastmilk since the dawn of time. She is the supreme expert on how to do it right.

So, if breastmilk is the best, why would you stop breastfeeding? There are a multitude of reasons why a mom may have to temporarily wean her baby off the breast. Here are a few of the most common reasons:

  • Illness on behalf of the mother or child
  • Hospitalization
  • Short separation
  • Expected and unexpected travel without baby
  • Medication needed for Mom

Life happens and sometimes you may find yourself in a position of having to stop breastfeeding for a short period of time. The best solution, if you know ahead of time, is to pump and store your breastmilk for your baby to consume.

If you find you must stop unexpectedly, search for the best baby formula for your baby and use that until you can get back to breastfeeding.

If you have to stop breastfeeding due to medical reasons that require you to take medication to get well, make sure you consult with your doctor prior to resuming breastfeeding. You must make sure your body is completely free of all medication before you resume the joys of breastfeeding your baby.

How Do I Store My Breastmilk?

If you know you need to halt breastfeeding ahead of time, you gain a unique opportunity to pump enough milk and store it so your baby does not go without the benefits of your breast milk. You will need to pump regardless for your own safety, health, and comfort, so you might as well store the milk you pump instead of wasting it.

There are a few ways you can store your milk. You can store it

  • In the refrigerator for five days
  • At room temperature for six hours
  • In the freezer for six months
  • In a freezer compartment for two weeks
  • In a cooler for 24 hours as long as there is enough ice inside

How soon you plan to use the milk will determine how you should store it. It is important to note: storing your breastmilk in the freezer will kill some of the important nutrients in your breastmilk meant to help your baby fight infection, regardless, it is still better than baby formula.

You may notice a separation in milk you have had stored for a while.

Do not panic! This is a normal reaction to the milk sitting for a while. All you need to do is shake it a little bit to mix it back up.

Your breastmilk will expand during the freezing process, so it is advisable to under fill the bottle or plastic bag you plan to store your milk in to prevent overflowing.

Never thaw your breastmilk in the microwave. Try running cool water then hot water over it instead.

Never refreeze breastmilk after thawing it.

It is important to take safety precautions prior to storing your breastmilk. When preparing to store breastmilk make sure you

  • Sterilize all containers you plan to store your milk in
  • Thoroughly clean your breast pump before and after using it with soap and hot water
  • Date and label your milk to help keep track
  • Use the oldest milk first
  • Wash your hands before and after preparation

Now That I Have Stopped. How Do I Start Up Again?

Now that you have stopped breastfeeding for whatever reason, you are ready to restart the process. How can you start it back up?

Restarting the lactation process is an arduous endeavor, but it is a possible one. It may take you a month or so to get your milk flowing again, but rest assured, you will have the ability to breastfeed again.

There are two ways to get back on the breastfeeding train:

  • Regain your milk supply
  • Get your baby to relatch to the breast for feedings

This may all sound easy enough, however, you may find that it is not as easy as you think.

If you find that you are having any trouble with either getting your supply back or getting your baby to latch to the breast effectively, seek the aid of a breastfeeding support professional. A breastfeeding professional can help you with all the support and tips you need to get your milk flowing again for you and your baby.

Your breast has to produce milk in order for you to begin to breastfeed your baby again. According to studies done on mothers who had a desire to lactate after a short pause, had a 75-98% chance of re-training their breast to produce milk for breastfeeding if they

  • Had young babies
  • Had a short lactation gap
  • Had a baby who wants to take the breast
  • Worked with trained breastfeeding professionals

Though each mother and child are different, regaining your ability to lactate is just as possible as any other mother with or without all the necessary criteria mentioned above.

One of the best ways to get your breast to reproduce milk is to get them working. Pump your breast as frequently as possible to get them to produce milk again. The best way to do this is by having your baby latch on and actually breastfeed.

If your baby is not latching, pump as often as possible to get the ball rolling while you reacclimate your baby to feeding again.

Once you get your baby to latch on to your breast, make sure your baby is latching on deeply. The deeper your baby can latch on, the more milk your baby will receive.

Your breast will get engorged if you do not empty them from time to time. It is advisable to empty your breast at least ten to twelve times a day.

Another suggestion for emptying your breast is to pump them after your baby has had a feeding. Pumping your breast after a feeding will increase your milk supply.

Breast compression is when you press down on your breast while breastfeeding. Breast compression is a good way to ensure your breast empty on both sides.

You always want to remember you have two breasts. If you feed your baby on one breast, make sure you also feed them on the other.

It is important to empty out both breast on each side. You want both breast to produce milk equally.

Babies instinctually want to breastfeed. You can use this to your advantage and bring your baby to your breast to prompt them to feed.

Unless there is a problem with your baby latching, in which you will call a professional to help you in that situation, your baby should latch onto your breast if you bring them to it. Skin-to-skin can stimulate the milk ducts and promote lactation.

Laying your baby on your chest in just a diaper could be all the prompting your baby needs. Your baby can use its reflexes to get to the nipple and latch on all by themselves.

Breastfeeding is one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences for any mother. Having the ability to provide nourishment through the same body that produced your baby is fascinating.

Unfortunately, life's many obstacles can cause a mother to have to stop breastfeeding for a minimal amount of time. This does not need to turn into a devastating experience.

You do not need to ask the question, "If I stop breastfeeding can I start again?" We are happy to report that you can.

It may take a little work on your part, some help from a professional, and patience, but you can relactate again.

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Hannah Tong

Hannah Tong is the founder of Omaby.com, a blog dedicated to providing accurate advice to mothers regarding childcare. She loves taking care of her kids and teaching them the right things. She is also enthusiastic and loves sharing her experiences to teach others about how to care for their families’ health.

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