Facing formula shortage, some moms consider relactation

It is possible to start breastfeeding again, but it requires a large commitment.

Facing formula shortage, some moms consider relactation

Deciding if you should breastfeed, formula feed or do a bit of both is already one of the most stressful decisions many mamas face. Now with difficulty getting groceries, including formula, due to COVID-19, many mothers are expressing an interest in learning to re-lactate, meaning they would begin to breastfeed again after a period of time not nursing. A recent Washington Post article explored the phenomenon.

Wondering if you can re-lactate to breastfeed your baby?

First, says Diana Spalding, CNM, "consult with a lactation consultant and a doctor who can give you the best information for your specific scenario." Your lactation counselor or doctor can understand your particular situation best and will help determine appropriate next steps.


And remember, if you're facing a formula shortage, you can contact your pediatrician for help accessing emergency supplies—many offices stock free samples of formula. You can read more here about how to get help finding formula, if needed. Feeling intense pressure to breastfeed can be harmful to a mother's mental health, so if you need formula don't be afraid to ask for help getting it. Formula feeding is a valid way to bond with your baby and we respect formula feeding mothers.

If you're committed to attempting relactation, there is a regimen women can follow. La Leche League, an organization that provides breastfeeding research and support for women and babies, recommends the following steps:

  • Hand express or pump at least eight to 12 times per day for 20-30 minutes, including at night
  • Give expressed/pumped milk and supplements in a cup, or use an at-breast supplementer
  • If baby will latch on, put them to your breast before and after each feeding
  • Put baby to your breast for comfort between feedings as often as possible instead of using a dummy/pacifier—it will help build your milk supply
  • Get support from your local LLL group/Leader—find local support here.

LLL also notes that the commitment to re-lactate is a major one—requiring breastfeeding up to six hours a day.

During attempted re-lactation, the World Health Organization recommends looking for signs of good attachment (chin touching beast, mouth wide open, lower lip turned out, more areola visible above than below mouth) and slow deep sucks from baby. You can find relactation support groups on Facebook, including one from La Leche League.

Other researchers have found that relactation works best with babies who are under 6 months old and were recently weaned, although it may be possible to relactate if your child is under 1 year old. Some mothers like to start eating and drinking common galactagogues, or milk-producing foods, when attempting to relactate.

Full relactation may not be possible for all women, and public health experts recommend committing two weeks to this intensive regimen to attempt to fully relactate.

To make sure your baby is getting adequate milk during relactation, count wet diapers (you're aiming for at least six in a 24 hour period), and weigh baby weekly to track weight gain, and/or before and after a feed, to see how many ounces baby is getting. If you don't have an infant scale available, you can hold baby on a scale together, and then alone without baby, and subtract your weight.

Relactation is a common topic during major disasters, where parents who had been using formula for their infants suddenly have trouble accessing an adequate supply of formula, due to displacement, natural disaster, disease, or other factors.

When attempting relactation, says Diana Spalding, CNM, "remember that this isn't going to easy—but it is going to be so worth it."

This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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As a mom, I say the phrase 'let me just…' to my kids more times a day than I can count.

Yes, I can help you log into your class, let me just send this email.
Yes, I can play with you, let me just make one more call.
Yes, I can get you a snack, let me just empty the dishwasher.

I say it a lot at work, too.

Yes, I can write that article, let me just clear my inbox.
Yes, I can clear my inbox, let me just finish this meeting.
Yes, I can attend that meeting, let me just get this project out the door.

The problem is that every 'let me just' is followed by another 'let me just'... and by the time they're all done, the day is over, and I didn't do most of the things I intended—and I feel pretty bad about myself because of it.

I wasn't present with my kids today.
I didn't meet that deadline.
I couldn't muster the energy to cook dinner.
The house is a mess. I am a mess. The world is a mess.

It's okay, I tell myself. Let me just try again tomorrow.

But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes and the list of things I didn't get to or didn't do well bears down on my shoulders and my heart, and all I can think is, "I am failing."

And I think that maybe I'm not alone.

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