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Relactation? Yes! It CAN be done!

This post contains affiliate links.

Relactation? What the heck is that, you may ask. But as resources and information become more and more readily available, more and more women and choosing to give relactation a try in order to continue to provide breast milk to their baby even after their milk supply has initially dried up. Women who have lost their milk supply can re-initiate their supply through pumping!

I have initiated relactation a total of three times. The first time, I didn’t do so well. It was 2008 and there wasn’t nearly as much information available about relactation as there is now. The second time, I blew the ball out of the park! After being completely dry (not even drops!) for over 2 months, I relactated and hit production as high as 70 ounces per day; without using domperidone, a medication often used to induce lactation or relactate.

How?

The most common question I get is “how?!” While it might seem like the answer should be complex and confusing, it really isn’t. I followed a very strict and consistent pumping schedule. First thing in the morning and right before bed I would power pump;

So morning and night I power pumped. I usually watched Netflix or played on my phone while power pumping. In between power pumping, I pumped every two hours for approximately 20 minutes give or take. I clocked my pump times from the starting time of each pump. So if I started pumping at 3:00pm, then my next pump should start at 5:00pm

I rarely pumped at night.

Trust me, I had every intention of pumping at night, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I turn into an absolute zombie. I would set alarms on my phone to wake up and I would shut them off in my sleep. I even downloaded a trick alarm, where you have to prove you’re awake by solving math problems before it will shut off. I woke up with the battery taken out of my phone and I didn’t remember doing it. I think, over the course of a year (the time I commenced relactation to the time I decided to wean) I only pumped at night five or six times total. I wanted to pump at night because I knew it would improve my progress, but try as I might, it just wasn’t working for me.

Motivation

The single biggest contributor to my success was my ability to maintain my motivation. Relactation is a hard thing to do and progress is very slow, and often times, not immediately identifiable. This is the hardest part for most!

My husband (being the super hot geek he is) made me a special chart that allowed me to track not only my production, but the time I spent and milliliters per minute average! Take a peek!

Want a copy of the template for your own tracking purposes?  Download Sammi’s Super Relactation Log Here!

Additionally, a huge motivator for me was logging! I bought a school planner, similar to this one, and logged all of my pump times. I made note of the starting time, ending time, total minutes for each session, total milliliters and then I added up all the minutes and milliliters at the end of the day and plugged them into the excel file my husband made for me. My logs typically looked something like this;

8:00-8:20 —- 40 mins (power pump) —– 15ml
10:00-10:20 —- 20 mins — 5ml
12:00-12:20 —- 20 mins — 10ml
2:00-2:20 —— 20 mins —- 5ml
4:00-4:20 —— 20 mins —- 5ml
6:00-6:20 —- 20 mins —- 3ml
8:00-8:20 —- 20 mins —- 5ml
10:00-10:20 — 40 mins (power pump) — 10ml

Total mins: 200 mins
Total ml: 58ml

It got to the point I would get super excited for my last power pump of the day so I could total up my production and log it on my excel file. It was a great motivator.

On that note, another HUGE component of my motivation was accuracy. You can have just a tiny bit in a bottle and it’s 3ml. You can pump again and feel it looks about the same, but it be 5ml. For this reason, I STRONGLY recommend having small syringes available to allow you to accurately measure your production. If you buy a bulk pack with caps, you can even freeze your milk in these syringes to use for earaches, teething and colds, since antibodies are often more condensed in women producing smaller amounts of milk! I continued to use syringes only for milk storage and would freeze them as soon as they were full to 10cc. Once I started producing  4oz or so a day, I moved on to using bags.

Consistency

The most important thing to do when relactating is to remain consistent. It is so easy to get behind or put off pumping, or skip a session, but that lack of concistency is the most detrimental thing to your supply. A lot of women feel like if they wait longer to pump, they’ll get “more” milk, but the reality is, pumping more often is best, even if it appears you’re getting less (or in the early days, nothing)! Remaining consistent is so hard, especially when progress is slow, but the consistency pays off.

For me, I never saw the results of what I did today, until three or four days from now. If I pumped really well and often all day Monday, then I wouldn’t expect to see an increase in supply until Thursday or Friday. This is also another reason you should keep a pumping log and use my excel file; you’ll be better able to spot trends in your pumping schedule and your changes in production!

Hands-free setup

Having a hands free pumping set up was crucial to my success. I was able to cool, clean, work and tend to the kids all while pumping. Had I not had a hands-free set up, I doubt this would have been possible for me. My hands-free setup was a Medela Freestyle hacked to work with Freemie cups using spectra backflow protectors.

Pump Recommendations

While I loved my hands-free setup, it wasn’t suitable for exclusive use. The suction just wasn’t as strong on my Medela Freestyle as it was my Spectra S2. I used my Spectra S2 with my Freemie cups for my power pumping sessions and any pumping sessions I didn’t need to be on the move and was sitting around.

When I was out and about or needed to be up and moving, I used the hacked Medela Freestyle.

This combination worked great for me. This isn’t to say another pump won’t work, but for me, these two worked well together.

The third time I re-lactated, I used the Ameda Platinum alongside the hacked Freestyle to allow me freedom. I have to say I loved the Ameda Platinum and it was so much more effective than any other pump I have tried. It is very expensive to buy, and is usually only accessible through a rental, but it is amazing. If you have access to an Ameda platinum, USE IT!

Medications & Supplements

About a week into relactating, I got discouraged and ordered domperidone. Domperidone is a medication often prescribed and used to induce lactation. While I had never used it before, I had heard so many good things about domperidone from other women. I had used Reglan in the past and refused to ever take that again.

Because it was an international order, I was looking at quite a bit of time before it would arrive, so in the mean time, I started taking fenugreek, blessed thistle, shatavari and spirulina by CassavaShop.com. It took me a while, but once I tweaked with my dosages a bit and watched my logs, I was able to figure out what would work best for me and how my supply responded.

Not everyone responds the same way to herbals though. Some women will actually see a decrease with fenugreek, so be sure to play around with it and ALWAYS watch your logs for any upward or downward trends that could be the result of adding a new herbal!

Water

Water is so, so, so important just for everyday life! It’s even more important when you are lactating (or attempting to re-lactate). If your body is lacking the fluids it needs to sustain itself, producing fluids to sustain another human being is absolutely out of the question. If you are dehydrated, your milk supply will suffer (or fail to come in).

I have such a hard time making sure I drink enough water. I bought 1 gallon jugs of distilled water and would start drinking it in the morning and attempt to finish it by bedtime. Most days I drank 3/4 of the jug to the whole jug. I kept it by my pump so that every pump session, I’d remember to drink a good amount then and there!

Foods & Drinks

While there are plenty of foods believed to boost supply, I really didn’t focus too much on foods and drinks. I did try to incorporate a few things into my diet though.

Powerade! I found women on all sorts of breastfeeding and lactation groups talking about how Powerade boosted their supply. Some women claimed it was only one specific color that did, but in my experience, it didn’t matter. But then again, I will only drink the red or blue Powerade. In retrospect, I should have opted for the sugar-free Powerade, but I did drink a 32oz container of Powerade nearly every day, on top of the water I was consuming.

I ate a lot of oatmeal too. Steel cut and rolled oats, made in my rice cooker. It worked great and was a hot, healthy breakfast with little prep time each morning. Oatmeal is supposed to improve supply, but instant oatmeal doesn’t have the same effect. I also made oatmeal cookies with rolled oats.

I used a lot of carnation malted milk powder. I don’t drink alcohol at all, so having a beer wasn’t really an option for improving supply. No way would I be able to gag down a beer, ever. A lot of women use Ovaltine chocolate malt powder, but I really didn’t feel it made much difference and went straight for Carnation malted milk powder. I made a lot of milkshakes with 3-4tbsp of malted milk powder each. It was great and I really felt it helped my supply.

In Conclusion . . .

Relactation is a very difficult and time-consuming process, however, with the right amount of motivation and consistency, it is absolutely possible to achieve. Not all women will respond the same; some are able to relactate quickly, while others may need more time. Some may achieve larger quantities of milk, while others do not. There is no secret formula or recipe to achieve the exact same results as another person, however, with consistency and motivation, it can be done and I am here to support you!

Have any questions? Drop a comment on this post or my video and I’ll do my best to help!

This post contains affiliate links.

 

 

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Hygeia EnJoye Breast Pump: Taking Care of Mothers, Babies & the World + A Surprise Giveaway.

As many of you may know, I have spent more time in my life using a a breast pump than most women spend just breastfeeding! Ha. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I have spent a significant chunk of time attached to a pump! I breastfed both of my kids, and I have donated milk to nine babies. You can read more about that by visiting my personal blog AnotherTeenMom and click on “My Milk Babies.”

Anyways, back to the point! I am extremely well educated when it comes to breastfeeding, and very soon, I will be working on getting a breastfeeding counselor certification. One of the biggest mistakes I see in my clients (I’m a birth doula) and in my friends, and former classmates, is that they make the mistake of believing all pumps are equal! Nothing could be further from the truth! If you are only going to be pumping once in a blue moon and mostly just to relieve engorgement, then sure, a hand held trigger operated breast pump should suit you just fine. However, if you plan on pumping on a daily basis, or even just a couple times a week, you really need to invest in a high quality, double electric breast pump. You’re wasting your time, effort and money if you don’t, because those hand held ones, and AA-battery powered ones don’t even come close in regards to how effective a good quality double electric pump is. Like I said, if you don’t plan on pumping much, getting much, or doing it often, then that kind of pump should be fine, but otherwise, please continue reading!

I run a breast milk donation website called www.breastmilkdonation.com. While setting it up, I signed up for google adsense, and one of the ads that came up on my ad bar, was for a Hygeia breast pump. I had never heard of hygeia (and I was pretty sure I had heard of almost every breast pump) so I decided to check out their site.

I was incredibly impressed with what I saw! Hygeia is the only company that makes “Green” breast pumps! Now, typically, most breast pumps are single user products. Almost every breast pump I’ve seen or had, has had that little sticker telling you “This product is a single user product. Use by more than one user may void the warranty.” This is because most breast pumps are open-circuit, meaning there’s the risk of contamination if one woman uses the pump, and then another does too. Rental grade pumps are known as closed-circuit pumps, meaning there is no risk of contamination when multiple users use the same pump. Well, this is where Hygeia’s pumps differ from the rest of the ones available on the market! Hygeia’s pumps can be used by one user, five users, two-hundred users, however many users you wanted, and there is no risk of contamination as long as each woman has her own accessory kit! What’s even better, is that the accessory kit is only $35! That’s practically a steal! Now, not all pumps that are intended to be single user pumps are only used by one user. I’ll admit… I have shared some single user pumps with some close friends I trust.  However, I was still hesitant to do so because of the risk of contamination. With Hygeia’s breast pump, this isn’t a concern at all!

Now, this is great for women who want to share or pass along their pumps to someone who needs it, but guess what else it’s great for? The environment. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of single-user breast pumps that are thrown into the landfills and dumps every year (and google couldn’t think of a figure either).  What’s so unfortunate about this, is many of these pumps were probably only used for a matter of a few weeks or a few months, because let’s face it, as sad of a reality it is, many more mothers start out breastfeeding their babies, than continue to breastfeed beyond six weeks. These single-user pumps can range anywhere from $200-400, and they’re being thrown away in the garbage? By creating a pump that is safe to share between users, a single Hygeia breast pump could see years upon years of use between several women, without putting them, or their babies at risk for the transmission of infection or disease! And at the same time, we’re protecting our environment, and reducing waste! Can it get any more eco-friendly than that?

Yes! It can! On top of creating a pump that can be used by more than one woman safely, and preventing more waste from accumulating in our landfills, Hygeia has a breast pump recycling program! When you’re done with your pump, even if it’s broken or damaged, you may return it to Hygeia, and they will salvage the parts they can, or refurbish the pump, clean it, whatever it needs done to it, and then put the pump to use as samples for the salesmen, as loaners in their rental stations, and for use by other customers. When I spoke to Debra at Hygeia about their recycling program, she also said “I’m sure the day will come when we can no longer refurbish our returns. In that case, we would recycle by disassembling the pump, taking parts that we could still use, and finally discarding the excess with a reputable recycling company.” Way to go Hygeia!

Could it get any better than this? Yep! It sure can! Hygeia also has a three week return policy, even after the pump has been opened! Every other breast pump on the market, once it’s opened, it’s non-returnable, and how are you supposed to know if you like something or not unless you try it? So, with a Hygeia pump, you can return it at anytime for any reason within the first three weeks for a refund. In addition to this, Hygeia’s breast pumps are  are warrantied for THREE years! Even the other leading breast pump brands only offer a one year warranty! This means if anything happens to your pump the first three years you have it, then you’ve got nothing to worry about! This policy is right in line with Hygeia’s pledge to their customers!

Have I mentioned Hygeia’s pledge? It’s rather impressive.

“Hygeia is dedicated to increasing breastfeeding rates. We strive for a goal of “70/24” (70% of mothers breastfeeding for 24 months).

Hygeia supports breastfeeding moms through sales of our quality products which allows us to allocate at least 5% of our profits to supporting breastfeeding.

Knowing that most mothers currently breastfeed for only for a short period, often less than 3 months, Hygeia encourages a ‘rent first-then buy’ approach to breastpumps.

We believe that the Lactation Community, along with mother-to-mother support, is one of the key factors in extending breastfeeding rates. Hygeia listens to and supports Lactation Professionals who understand clearly that breastpumps are medical products and are merely another tool to be used to help the breastfeeding mom be more successful. Breastpumping should not interfere with breastfeeding but provide a means to maintain milk supply when mothers need to be separated from their child. Breastfeeding is always encouraged over breastpumping.

We make quality pumps and products for mothers. Our pumps incorporate a robust cylinder and piston design with some styles offering additional safety provided by a barrier filter. Hygeia pumps will always be marketed with integrity as we will endeavor to ‘do the right thing’ regarding satisfaction with our pumps. Our Total Compatibility Guarantee is an integral part of that effort.

Hygeia promises to be innovative in the creation of products and development of services that truly assist mothers and their caregivers.”

Wow. So, this is just about the company. Are we ready to hear about the actual pump itself?

I’ll admit, I was pretty loyal to another breast pump brand before trying Hygeia’s breast pump… But my loyalties have completely flipped! I wish I would have discovered Hygeia sooner, I would have never wasted the money on my other single-user, limited-warranty, non-returnable, non-eco-friendly pumps! Hygeia’s entire goal, mission and how they go about conducting business, it’s commendable and inspiring. They deserve recognition for the good they are doing!

On to the pump.

Here’s the feature list from Hygeia’s website.

Proven performance for working moms with long-term and frequent pumping needs. Plus, your satisfaction is guaranteed
Usually more affordable than other rental pumps
More portable and convenient than other rental pumps
Features the unique Hygeia CARE Button for Customized, Audio, Recording, Experience so you can record your baby or other sound to enhance your breastpumping experience
Offers single or double pumping flexibility
Electric or battery operation with the included internal battery pack. The rechargeable battery is ideal for battery-dependent pumpers
Green Breastpump, Can be shared by multiple mothers when each has her own personal accessory set
Recycle the EnJoye when you no longer need it. See recycling instructions.
Mimics your baby’s unique suckling patterns with customizable speed and pressure controls
Safe, because all parts that come into contact with breastmilk are
BPA/DEHP Free

Assembly of the pump was incredibly easy to figure out. I didn’t have any trouble with it. It did take me a minute to figure out the right combinations of the strength and speed settings, but other than that it was pretty simple and straightforward.

The settings are really cool. You can adjust the speed and the suction strength. Every other pump I’ve ever had, you have a slow speed, with low suction, or a fast speed with high suction. You couldn’t have a little bit of both. With the EnJoye pump you can! It’s awesome. Also, on every other breast pump I’ve had, I’ve always had to use the maximum setting. On the Hygeia breast pump, I didn’t have to! I was incredibly impressed with the suction speeds, strength and pattern. It was incredibly comfortable. It didn’t hurt. It wasn’t annoying (sometimes, breast pumps feel physically irritating and annoying). It was pretty comfortable. I actually didn’t dread pumping the next time. Normally, I don’t like pumping (Who does? It’s kind of boring…) but it was comfortable, so I wasn’t trying to put it off like I tend to do with my other pumps sometimes.

One thing I really liked was that the tubing was much longer than the tubing on some of my other pumps. It makes it easier because I don’t have to sit in awkward positions just to be able to reach my pump. I could lean back, relax, and just be comfortable… Which is something new when pumping! I’m so used to having to sit really close to the pump (often on the floor if I have to plug the pump in)! So this was a very welcome change!

Another really unique feature that I have never seen in any other breast pump is the C.A.R.E. feature. It stands for Customized Audio Recording Experience. You can actually record your baby crying on to the pump, and play it back later when you’re pumping. The whole idea behind this, is that the sound of the baby crying helps trigger the let down reflex, and makes pumping easier. Trust me! It works with me! It dosen’t even have to be my baby! Heck, it dosen’t even have to be a baby! My five-year-old brother was crying and asked me for a hug when I was still breastfeeding my daughter and I ended up getting the let-down reflex! So, if you’re a mom who has a little bit of difficulty getting let-down, then this could be really handy for you!

There was really only one thing I could think of that would improve the pump, and that would be to make the shields pull off of the pump assembly to make it a little bit easier to clean (and easier to fit into a makeshift pumping bra), but other than that it was amazing.

I emailed Hygeia again, letting them know just how impressed I was with them. I seriously, can’t stress it enough. This company is amazing and they are doing an incredible thing for our world. I really hope that women will see this, and start bringing their business to Hygeia, rather than wasting money on single-user non-environmentally-friendly pumps. Hygeia not only carries a great product, but they’ve got a good set of values, ethics, and adhere to a very admirable credo.

I know one thing. I will never buy another breast pump from any other company again. Hygeia is it for me. They’re helping me. They’re helping women. They’re helping the planet. They’re helping the world. And it’s incredibly rare to find a company that does that anymore. They truly are one in a million.

Why don’t you take a moment to check out their website. Heck, you can even find them on facebook. Become a fan, let them know what you think and keep up to date with their products! I enjoyed doing this review, and hopefully, I’ll be able to work with Hygeia more in the future.

So, why don’t you leave me a comment and let me know what you think about pumping. Do you love it? Hate it? Don’t have an opinion? What’s the hardest thing and the easiest thing about it? Why do you do it? Let me know your thoughts and you could win a secret prize from me, personally! (This prize will not be useful to women who are not currently breastfeeding.)

**This post contains affiliate links. I recieved a sample product in exchange for an honest review and critique.

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