Did you know that it is possible to induce lactation without having gone through pregnancy?
It is indeed! It is a fantastic option for parents who are adopting a baby and would still like to give their baby the opportunity of nursing. It is also a great option for a co-parent who may not have given birth, but is willing to share the responsibility of breastfeeding. Whatever your situation is, it is an available option and one that offers your baby nutrients that formula can not compare to.
Disclaimer: I am by no means bashing formula. Formula is a fantastic resource for people that cannot breastfeed (whatever your reasoning is). A fed baby is a happy baby. A happy baby is the most important thing!
Before learning about how it is possible to induce lactation, it is important to understand how lactation occurs naturally in the body.
Over the course of pregnancy, the growing placenta is busy producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones allow the breasts to adapt and expand in preparation for lactation. Upon the delivery of the baby, the placenta organ is expelled which means that there is a sudden large decrease in these types of hormones and the body then begins producing prolactin from the pituitary gland. Prolactin signals to the mammary glands found inside breast tissue that it is time to start making breast milk.
In order to initiate lactation manually, you have to essentially mimic the process that occurs in the gestating body. According to the Newman Goldfarb Protocols, manual lactation initiation can be completed with the use of a variety of synthetic hormone substitutes, herbs, and breast stimulation (either breastfeeding or pumping).
The use of birth control pills can supply the non gestating body with a miniscule amount of estrogen and progesterone. While it is a much smaller dose than experienced during pregnancy, it is enough to create the necessary changes within the breast tissue in order to support lactation. The use of a drug called Domperidone provides the body with increased amounts of prolactin. This is what signals to the body that ‘the baby has arrived, and is in need of nutrition’. These two drugs, partnered with lactation stimulating herbs such as oatstraw, fenugreek, and blessed thistle herb, are enough to induce lactation. The amount taken of each is very situational. It depends on how long of a period there is before lactation will be necessary to support the baby, so talk with an educated health professional and get set up with a protocol that will work best for your situation.
You are taking all the drugs/supplements listed above, now what?
Now it is time to put the breasts to work. The body will only produce the amount of milk that is being demanded so this requires the individual to either begin nursing or to begin pumping with a hospital-grade electric pump. The body requires the production of a hormone called oxytocin in order to signal the letdown of breast milk. If lactation is slow to come in, there are a few techniques available to help with increasing the quantity that the breasts are letting down. Manually stimulating, stroking, and massaging the breasts will all help signal to the body that lactation is being requested. Drinking plenty of water and providing your body with very nutrient dense foods will allow your body to have the resources it needs to create breast milk. Taking a quality prenatal vitamin will supplement your body for the demand of breastfeeding.
To learn more about the process and details on how to induce lactation manually, check out The Newman Goldfarb Protocols for Induced Lactation.
Photo Credit: Peters, T. (2018, October 3). Moms make unique tree of life breastfeeding selfies with app. TODAY.Com. https://www.today.com/parents/moms-make-unique-tree-life-breastfeeding-selfies-app-t106210
Goldfarb, Lenore PhD, CCC, IBCLC, ALC, L. G., & Newman, Jack MD, FRCPC, J. N. (n.d.). The Newman Goldfarb Protocols for Induced Lactation. Http://Www.Asklenore.Info. Retrieved March 5, 2021, from http://www.asklenore.info/breastfeeding/induced_lactation/protocols4print.shtml
Khan Academy. (2014, November 25). Breast anatomy and lactation | Reproductive system physiology | NCLEX-RN | Khan Academy [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bflHwVKgRNE.