On a whim, I decided to see if I could re-lactate. (I had considered it for years, but never took much action). I last breastfed 23 years ago. I am now 51, in peri-menopause, and a grandmother! I got more interested, because I am into bodybuilding and health, and have a family history of ovarian cancer. It is mostly for the health benefits. If I succeed, I will likely donate the milk. I had three children and breastfed all of them for a combined total of 40 months. My last baby, born in 1991, I breastfed for 2 years until I got bad mastitis in my left breast. At that point, she was no longer nursing for nourishment, but for the closeness and connection. I was 28 years old when I stopped.
I could also express a little milk out of both breast since stopping, at most, a few drops. As my periods are becoming more sporadic, and I have had a small uterine fibroid for 6 years, occasional cyclical ovarian cysts, and a polyp (which was removed), I wondered if relactating beyond the 40 months I already nursed could give further protection, so I thought I'd give it a try. I have not tried to express milk for a number of years now. Other than coffee and occasionally red wine, my diet is pretty clean. I am not taking hormones or lactation-related supplements. Because of the fibroid, and the associated heavy bleeding (I had been severely anemic at one point), I started taking prenatal vitamins I bought at the health food store a few months ago that have some herbs in them, but none mentioned for lactation. I do not take the vitamins every day. I also am taking ginseng with royal jelly, just because I like the energy boost it gives me, not because of anything I read anywhere.
I started trying to induce lactation just a coupe of days ago, first trying to hand express some milk, and got a tiny drop or two. I took out the manual breast pump one and gave it a try and got another couple of drops. Day 2, my breasts felt tender, not sore from the pumping, but in the milk ducts. Where the mastitis was, was particularly tender. I had to work all day Monday, so I did it before work, once when I got home, and again before bed. Same schedule for Tuesday, except I tried to pump once in the bathroom at work. I kept getting this feeling like my breasts were full of milk, hard, and sore, and an occasional let down sensation, but no letdown, and only a drop or two when pumping.
Drops have been white, clear, and yellow (resembling my colostrum). I work from home the rest of the week, so Wed and Thur (today), I have pumped more frequently. My babies always were nursed on demand, so I am not fixated on a schedule, although everything I am reading seems to say to have a schedule. Yesterday and today I have pumped every 3-4 hours, except I am not waking during the night to pump. I was awakened by the dog at 4am and pumped, but nothing came out. Here are some amazing changes I am seeing though:
*** Breasts are very tender, milk glands palpable and pronounced, boobs more hardened than usual.
*** The let-down response happens a lot, and is getting stronger, but I am not spilling out yet or leaking when it happens.
*** MOOD SWINGS. I felt like sobbing today and could not pinpoint it to anything. Other times I've felt elated!
*** 1st time today, I am noticing a "hormonal" taste in my mouth.
*** I'm feeling stuff going on in my uterus and ovaries -- especially when I pump. It feels like contracting, and light cramping, like right after you have the baby and nurse, but not as intense.
*** today my milk has been the most productive, but still only small droplets
*** increased libido (?? anyone experience this?)
*** sleepiness. Today wasn't as strong, but yesterday I dozed off a couple of times, and then went to bed early and slept well.
*** vivid dreaming
*** Wonderful flashbacks of my babies in my arms and at my breasts when I'm pumping. Things I haven't thought of in decades! I think psychology has a lot to do with the success of this.
***Occasional small flush of fluid from my vagina
I've been both hand-expressing and pumping (manual pump) in each session, trying to do 30 minutes. A few sessions yield no droplets, but the other changes like let-down response and uterine contractions happen in each session. It was just today the hormonal taste showed up. Except for the milk, the changes feel like they had when I was pregnant and nursing. My nipples have not changed color, but get a full feeling until I pump. I decided to start this week, because my period ended last week, and I thought maybe the hormonal shift would boost things along.
Do you know if these are all indications that my milk will indeed flow once again? Sure feels like it, and the changes certainly have me pretty motivated to keep going! And I read that I would not produce colostrum, but the clear yellow certainly looks like my colostrum did. Is this true?