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Relactation: professional clarifies what it is and how it works

Relactation is a technique that assists in breastfeeding when the mother, for some reason, is unable to feed the baby with breast milk. The baby is then fed through a nasogastric tube or a relactation kit. To understand the subject, gynecologist and obstetrician Dr. Fábio Broner (CRM 155215), from Hospital Albert Sabin, explains what relactation is, when it is indicated and how it works.

what is relactation

According to the obstetrician, women who cannot breastfeed normally use this method to encourage breastfeeding. “We use a probe attached to a container that contains artificial milk according to the recommendations of the WHO (World Health Organization). This tube is placed next to the mother’s breast and, at the same time that the baby sucks the milk from the container, it also stimulates breastfeeding.”

When is relactation indicated?

The doctor explains that this technique is recommended when there is rejection of the breast, extreme prematurity, when the baby is unable to suckle to feed and is underweight. He also reports that there are cases in which “the mother has little milk production, has undergone breast reduction or some procedure that can also make breastfeeding difficult. So, the technique is used for the baby to suckle more and stimulate the production of breast milk.” Furthermore, there are cases of adopted children in which the mother uses relactation to bond with the baby.

How does relactation work?

Relactation can be done by probe or through ready-made kits available on sale. Find out if there is a difference between them and how they work:

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Relactation with probe

Dr. Fábio Broner explains that a home kit can be used to perform relactation. Thus, a “number 4 or 5 nasogastric tube, a cup or bottle is used. The mother puts the artificial milk in a cup or bottle, then she will place the tube in the mother’s breast so that the baby can suckle through the tube attached to the nipple.”

Relationship with kit

Relactation can be done with specific kits sold in baby supply stores and pharmacies that come with a cup to store the milk and tube extenders. “The mother puts the artificial milk in the container, puts the probe in the mother’s breast and in the baby’s mouth for him to suck the milk”, explains the obstetrician. In this way, he will suction and associate the breast with food.

Remembering that in both cases, before and after use, care for the hygiene of the material is very important.

Relactation X translactation

According to the obstetrician, the two techniques are similar and both methods use a probe close to the nipple. But the difference “is that translactation is done with breast milk and relactation is done with artificial milk. Both methods are important to stimulate and increase milk production, or in cases where the mother does not produce the food and wants to bond with the baby.”

Breastfeeding is very important for building a bond between mother and baby, so if you have any difficulties, be sure to talk to your doctor. Enjoy and learn more about the breast pump and get to know the best brands!

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Erika Balbino

Graduated in Letters and post-graduated in Digital Journalism. Passionate about books, plants and animals. She loves to travel and research other cultures. She writes on a variety of subjects, especially health, wellness, beauty and behavior.

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