How can I get my 16-month old back to the breast?

Christine - posted on 08/09/2011 ( 15 moms have responded )

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Can anyone help me re-lactate my 16 month old son? He was born with a tongue-tie, which got clipped after two days, but had a weak suck. I still tried breastfeeding him but he did not seem to get satisfied so I fed him formula after nursing until he was 6 months. He started biting me when his teeth came on so I stopped. I want to start again because I feel that I did not try hard enough to get him to nurse. now, he refuses to nurse from me. How can I re-lactate?

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Gemma - posted on 08/13/2011

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It is late in the game, but the previous poster's assumptions about your reasons for wanting to do this were really not helpful!
Relactating is tough going but made easier by the fact that you did nurse for a good length of time. You will need a good well fitting breast pump (preferably electric) that you will be comfortable using 6-8 times per day, more if you can manage as your breasts will need an awful lot of stimulation to relactate. Don't expect to get anything at first, but don't give up remember that you are stimulating the breasts even if you don't get any milk. You'll need to do about 10-15 minutes on each side so if you can get a double pump you'll save a lot of time. You could also take fenugreek (from a health food store) that is thought to help boost milk production. Do not take the combined pill or any medication known to inhibit milk production (such as decongestant cold remedies etc).
It's unlikely that your child will go back to the breast, but I would never say never. And if he will not, you can always give him breastmilk in a cup.

Christa - posted on 08/13/2011

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She didn't ask for opinions on extended nursing, she asked how she could re-lactate. If you don't have anything useful to say, don't say it!
Just because you wouldn't nurse a 16 month old doesn't mean that no one should! Extended nursing is done world-wide and has many benefits. A 16 month old is still a baby! If she wants to figure out how to nurse again, it's her prerogative!

Summer - posted on 08/13/2011

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I needed to take Domperidone, a drug that is not approved by the FDA here but is used in every other country. It works fabulous and can be gotten through lots of natural pharmacies still. You still need a Dr.s prescription but its amazing. and lots of pumping!!!

Christa - posted on 08/13/2011

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What Gemma said is spot on. Fenugreek works wonderfully. I was supplementing my DD bc of similar issues and needed to up my supply to get back to EBF. I did Fenugreek, extra pumping (on too of frequent nursing) and tons tons tons of water! Eating oatmeal and making some "lactation cookies" that include flax, oatmeal, and brewer's yeast should help too. Best wishes! Extended nursing is very rewarding.

Alexandra - posted on 08/13/2011

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This probably isn't even relevant, but I wanted to post it just in case! If you are pregnant or hoping to get pregnant soon you aren't allowed to take Fenugreek. I had to take Nettle instead - it's another option to look into anyway!

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Dawna - posted on 08/20/2011

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:-) The LC I had when my girl was born told me that her tongue was tied... and I continued to nurse and my little one proved the doctors wrong. She was just shy and didn't want to extend her tongue. :-) I wish you had talked to an LC before stoping when he bit you... there are ways to get them to stop... and still nurse. However, spilt milk, as they say. There are two questions you need to ask yourself: Do you really want to start nursing again? Or is it that you feel guilty for not trying harder? If it is truely the first then this is my advice: try Mothers Milk, Fenugreek, Oatmeal, all the herbs people have been advising. Pump every 15min. This will get your suplly back. As for the child, he may not want to take the milk from the breast. At this point, it would be more for you than for him But you can keep offering. He may take it eventually. If he doesn't take from the breast it is just a nutritious from the bottle. Think about the first two questions. Then decide what you need to do. I support you either way!

Gemma - posted on 08/14/2011

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I would have no concerns about the quality of your breast milk. This is not induced lactation (like for an adoptive parent), it is re-latation, so you are not 'starting from scratch' at all. The fact that you nursed for 6 months when you baby was born makes a big difference.
The benefits of breastmilk do change over time but still far outway any benefits from formula or cows milk, and to me the benefits are well worth the effort. Others probably disagree, but maybe they do not know that those benefits last not only for as long as your child recieves breastmilk but protects them in later childhood and even adulthood against certain illnesses. And the more breastmilk your child receives the greater that protection. The same goes for the benefits to you, the more milk you produce the better protected you are.
But this question was not supposed to be about where or not it's worth the effort, because everyone has different opinions, you have to decide whether it's worth it to you. I hope we've been able to give you at least some info to help you get going anyway. XX
It's definately worth chatting to an LC, they wil have lots of information for you to help you make a decision.

Nettia - posted on 08/14/2011

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Although I think that you should definitely give it a shot. I have to add something to the comment concerning giving your baby the benefits of breastmilk. At this point in your child's life, there are some benefits to breastmilk, but it is not nearly as many as if your child were an infant. As well, consider the fact that it may take a long time (months) before you could be able to produce enough milk to supplement your child's hydration needs. Additionally, as a child continues to breastfeed from birth, the content of the breastmilk changes. With you starting a again "from scratch" I'm not sure what quality of milk you will produce for your 16=month-pld. That being said, the best thing to do is to consult a La Leche or other lactation consultant who may be able to give you the answers to your questions. Good luck, and if nothing else, it is a wonderful way to bond with your child, but don't feel that you should or that there are not other ways.

[deleted account]

Blessed thistle is another milk production booster. There are mother's milk teas sold in mass market form now, sure to be available in your health food store if not anywhere else. I nearly lost my milk after having my tonsils out when my LO was only 3 months old, but by taking Fenugreek, Blessed thistle, mother's milk tea, and eating lots of oatmeal, combined with lots of pumping, I was able to gradually bring it back enough to eventually continue exclusively BFing.

We had an adoptive mother in our la leche league group a few years ago who was working to stimulate her milk. I recall she was taking some sort of prescription to help stimulate her milk, but I don't know what it was. Perhaps a chat with your family doctor might help?

Gemma - posted on 08/14/2011

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I do think it's likely to be quite frustrating and distressing for both mum and baby if she tries to go back to breastfeeding now. the thing is that baby's lose their reflex to suck quite quickly, and after they lose the reflex they can only do what they have learned. Once they've forgotton and have to relearn it becomes a problem.
Extended nursing is nice, but the important thing is giving your child all the benefits of breastmilk that he would otherwise miss out on. So as far as I am concerned going to the trouble of relactating is worth it just to give that to your child. You should never feel guilty for wanting to give your child the very best start in life!

Pam - posted on 08/14/2011

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and no one said she shouldn't nurse, but it never hurts to analyze something from all aspects.

Pam - posted on 08/14/2011

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I don't think she meant that a 16 month old should not be nursed, I think she just meant it would be tough to reintroduce a 16 month old back on to the breast, and I would have to agree. Although she hasn't asked for an opinion, quite frankly, its an interesting topic, and here it is.

Pumping is a good way to "re lactate". People who adopt are told to pump for months in advance so they could nurse. I personally breastfed my first child until 2 and a half and my second one is still breastfeeding, now, that being said, 2 year olds feel different than babies when they bf, they have more mature mouth movements and personally I would rather breastfeed a small baby rather than a toddler, and even with correction, when my 2 year old fell asleep so would my nipple in her teeth. There are people out there who bf until their kids are 7 year olds, and beyond~

Heather - posted on 08/13/2011

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He is 16 months old and really active now. He probably won't nurse again.

Amber - posted on 08/13/2011

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Also when there is milk coming out when you express make sure you pump infront of your lo. And when he asks what you are doing tell him and show him the content of the bottle/container. Offer a taste direct from the container aim for there to only be 2 or 3oz there so when he asks for more you can show him where to get it from. This is what I did when S went on a nursing strike.

Pam - posted on 08/13/2011

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its really late in the game now, I'm not sure you can force an older kid to want to breastfeed now. The reason you most likely want to do this anyways is because you feel guilty, let it go, and give him some milk from a cup and he'll be fine :-)

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