Relactation In One Breast ONLY?
Long story short: when my daughter was about 2-3 months old, I had endured mastitis 4 times and, thanks to a lack of knowledgeable medical support, ultimately ended up with the most severe abscess the breast surgeon had ever seen. I required emergency surgery which disfigured my breast somewhat and it did sever at least one milk duct because I could see it since they don't sew you up after the surgery. The entire process was extremely painful and difficult.
But I kept breastfeeding my daughter on the "good" boob, and she's now almost 11 months and we're still going strong. I've never really pumped, she gets it all directly from the breast and I feed her on demand probably 10-15 times a day. (She's a frequent snacker.)
I have become interested in relactating what my husband and I call "surgery boob" for several reasons.....one, I want to know what "normal" breastfeeding is like because I never really experienced switching sides, etc. Two, I do have milk in there and if you squeeze it it shoots out. It sometimes leaks like one or two tiny droplets on its own. Three, I am tired of feeling so disfigured and feeling self-conscious in clothes.....one of my breasts is a large C and the other is not even an A-cup basically and it's extremely obvious! I figure if I am going to breastfeed for at least another year, I'd like to not suffer through swimsuit season etc feeling like a spectacle. Sounds vain, but it's been very hard on my already low self-esteem.
So. I figure it's a good thing that I'm still making lots of milk on one side, but what's the best way to do this? She doesn't really like latching on "surgery boob," so I was thinking of renting an electric pump and just using that until my milk comes in. Will it be engorged again once it does? I'm so afraid of feeling pain there again or, god forbid there is actually something wrong with that breast that caused the issues in the first place and I have to go through that all over again.....
Any advice for my unusual situation would be much appreciated.
Re: Relactation In One Breast ONLY?
What you want to do does sound possible. It sounds like you know how to go about it, too: if baby will latch and nurse on that side, yahtzee! If not, renting a good pump and pumping frequently should get the milk to increase on that side. The fact that it never really went away means you'll probably have an easier time regaining a supply on the surgery breast.
You also put your finger on the one potential negative issue: if there's some sort of issue on that side that makes you more prone to mastitis or other problems, increasing milk on that side also ups your risk of experiencing problems again. I think the risk is probably lower than you think, though: mastitis is most common when a mom is starting out with breastfeeding and has and overabundant supply. You're probably not going to bring back a huge, troublesome supply, though, and I think that if you go slow and stay attuned to your body, your chances of having another bad experience are low.
Re: Relactation In One Breast ONLY?
:ita I think you can probably relactate that side, especially if your goal is to produce some milk on that side, rather than 50% of your child's milk, total. I also think that if you go slowly, the chances of mastitis are pretty low. Going from nothing, you're not likely to get super full and engorged on that side. The severed milk ducts can heal and either work again, or become dead ends that your milk will just go around. So that all should be fine.
I don't have exactly your experience, but I did mostly wean off of one side (after a breast surgery, like you) for a month or so just to heal, and then relactated. In my case, I never weaned completely off that side - it continued to make a small amount of milk, and would get engorged if I didn't nurse once or twice a day. And it wasn't for as long, so the relactation process probably went more quickly than it will for you. Even so, it took patience. You will have days where you may not see a lot of progress. It's hard to be patient!! But if you just keep putting the baby on the breast or pumping, every day, day in and day out, you will see your milk increasing. The fact that you are still lactating on the other side means that you have the hormones you need (this is not as easy for women who stop nursing entirely) but it's still SLOW.