With an unprecedented formula shortage terrifying parents who worry about how they'll feed their babies, some mosm are turning to relactation and attempting to breastfeed their children.

Moms all over the country are desperately trying to find formula in this unprecedented time, and that's created a new interest in nursing as well as relactating to feed their babies.

Relactation is what happens when a mom reestablishes breastfeeding or pumping breast milk after she no longer is. Some moms are looking into stimulating lactation even if they never nursed or pumped before.

It's not necessarily an easy process, and not all moms are able to do so, but if a baby will nurse, it's the healthiest food source option for the baby, particularly when considering formula may not even be available.

Moms who relactate or are able to establish lactation should prepare to nurse at least 8-10 times a day during a 24-hour period for the first several weeks to allow their bodies to recognize demand. Breast milk is made on demand, and when the demand is there, and greater, that's when moms have the best chances of producing milk. Pumping moms should pump at least 6-8 times a day for about 15-20 minutes per pump cycle to get milk going.


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it can take several weeks for your supply to increase during relactation, and you may be frustrated not to see instant results. Still, giving relactation a shot to establish milk supply could pay off in big ways for you and your baby in a few weeks.

Lactation consultants warn to be patient, and that at first, you may only see a few drops at a time. But many women are finding that their bodies are surprising them, and that breastmilk is preferential, particularly as a direct result of the formula shortage.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has also updated guidance due to the shortage and recommends the feeding of whole cow's milk for a brief time for babies over six-months-old, though they note this is NOT ideal and shouldn't be a routine.

Some moms are unhappy that a 'solution' to formula shortage being considered is relactation, as they believe the autonomy of a woman's body is being threatened in doing so. They advocate that relactation is hard enough; doing so under the stress of it being the only way to feed your baby is crisis mode.

Others, however, believe that maybe they should have given nursing more of a try in the first place, but that the formula industry made it so apparent that formula feeding was preferable and more convenient; they're now mad that the formula industry created a dependency for their baby's survival and believe relactation is a blessing in disguise.

We've always believed that and advocated for breastmilk for babies is the best food option, though we absolutely believe that fed is hands down the priority.

Still, we're grateful that relactation is even an option for some, and once again marvel at mom milk to the rescue as it can.

Is Relactation An Option For You? Here Are Some Tips!

The younger your baby is, the more easily relactation should happen. Typically, babies under 3-months old have the most success. By 6-months or older, there is likely distraction and may require more patience. If you previously breastfed your baby, they're more likely to resume.

Give yourself at least two full weeks, maybe three before you decide that you simply cannot relacate. The longer it's been since you last nursed/lactated, the longer it may take for relaxation. Studies show that about half of women who are able to successfully relactate had full milk supply within a month, so keep that in mind as you're pushing through.


If you can, offer baby your breast for 20-30 minutes every 2-3 hours. Try to nurse on both sides; if baby doesn't want to nurse, use a strong double electric pump to stimulate and express.

Nurse as much as the baby will nurse (and you can) in the beginning. The more you nurse, the more milk you'll be able to make.

Keep track of how often and how long baby feeds. Keep track of wet diapers to ensure there's no dehydration. Keep track of stool color and consistency as the more breast milk increases, the lighter and less odor you should see. Keep track of weight and height growth as you relactate as well.


If you're looking into relactation and need support, you can find that on the La Leche League website.