What is Relactation?

SNS, supplemental nursing system

It is the initiation of milk production after milk production has ceased. This is usually done if a mother initially wasn’t interested in breastfeeding, but then later decides that she does want to breastfeed (sometimes because the baby is experiencing an adverse reaction to the formula given).

Whatever your specific reason may be, bringing back your milk supply will be well worth it.

How Long does it take to Relactate?

It’s almost always possible to get some milk production going; it is more difficult though, if you never had a full milk supply or if it’s been many months since you weaned.

If it’s only been a few weeks since you weaned and you had a full milk supply then it should take only a few weeks to achieve the same supply again.

Baby’s Nutrition during the Relactation Process

Your baby’s intake of supplementation (formula or donor breast milk) should not be decreased during the relactation process. BUT, you can start to feed your baby these supplements at the breast via a supplemental nursing system (SNS), to not only stimulate your own milk supply, but to allow your baby some practice time at the breast. Get your own Starter Supplemental Nursing System with 80ml Bottle on Amazon.

To Restart Milk Production

If your baby is willing to breastfeed without a flow of milk, this can help a lot! But, if your baby will not nurse without a flow of milk, you can stick to the SNS during feeding times and pump in-between feedings. An electrical, hospital grade, a double action breast pump is best for relactation.

Hand expressionbreast compression, and breast massage are good at stimulating the breast to produce more milk. I recommend that you click on each one of those links for more information, they are helpful.

When you finally start to produce a few drops of milk, they will be in the form of clear colostrum. Colostrum is potent, fantastic stuff for babies. Then usually three days after seeing colostrum or sooner you will start to produce mature milk.

You can use herbs to help increase milk production if needed, but herbs should only be used if you have been pumping and breastfeeding and still need a boost. 

Getting your Baby to Breastfeed

  • Do not try to force your baby onto the breast. You need to try to entice him/her onto it.
  • Feed your baby with an SNS at the breast if possible.
  • Keep your baby skin to skin most of the day. This will encourage him/her via touch and smell. Take baths together and co-sleep.
  • Use the laidback breastfeeding techniques.
  • You can try to entice him/her by dropping some of your breast milk on and around the nipple.
  • Some babies who are accustomed to artificial nipples will only latch onto their mothers if the mother is wearing a nipple shield. This is something to consider. Once you have got baby to breastfeed with a nipple shield, you can slowly wean from it again.
  • Avoid the use of pacifiers. Allow your baby to satisfy all their sucking needs at your breast.

How to Reduce Supplementation when you are Producing Milk

  • Once your baby is nursing well at the breast and you are producing more milk, you can:
  1. Reduce the supplements by 5 – 15ml with each feeding every few days.
  2. Keep a strict eye on your baby’s wet and soiled diapers so that you know he/she is getting in enough milk. Infant stool and urine output guidelines here.
  3. Look out for hunger signs and excessive fussiness.
  4. Keep an eye on your baby’s weight. Use a breastfed infant weight chart.


  • The womanly art of breastfeeding 8th edition, chapter 17, alternate routes, relactation
  • My knowledge based on my breastfeeding Councillor studies with Childbirth international. Here is my personal breastfeeding journey. 

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