Relactation: a study of 366 cases

Pediatrics. 1980 Feb;65(2):236-42.


Relactation is resumption of breast-feeding following cessation or significant decrease in milk production. It may be appropriate following an untimely weaning from the breast or the hospitalization and subsequent separation of mother and infant. Relactation includes encouraging the low-birth-weight infant to nurse after the baby is able to suckle. Preparation for relactation includes breast and nipple stimulation, supplementation of the maternal diet, and occasional use of exogenous hormones. The baby's willingness to suck is related to infant age at the time of relactation. Most babies older than 3 months are less willing to suck than younger infants. If the baby is of low birth weight, the length of time before the breast can be introduced also affects infant responsiveness. Three fourths of the study participants evaluated their experience positively. Neither the length of time the infant was nursed nor the need for supplemental fluids during relactation was related to the mother's evaluation of her experience. Most mothers stressed the importance of nursing to the mother-infant relationship. Milk production was less often a goal and, when so specified, it was likely to influence the mother to evaluate her experience negatively and to result in difficulty in achieving a total milk supply.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactation*
  • Pregnancy
  • Time Factors
  • Weaning