Did you know that it’s possible for a woman who has never given birth to produce breastmilk? I mean, it’s also possible to produce breastmilk again even after stopping for a while.
Generally, during pregnancy, the hormones oestrogen, progesterone and prolactin are the ones that prepares the breast to the process of forming milk.
However, the hormone prolactin alone can help trigger the milk formation process through induced lactation. This happens when the breast nipples are stimulated via expressing or by the baby’s suckling.
Once the milk has started to form, it’s now up to you to increase breastmilk supply through frequent breastfeeding. More milk will be formed as more milk is taken out.
Why You May Want to Induce Lactation
- In the instance of child adoption
- After a sickness of the mother and the baby is too young for solid food
- Poor response to baby formula
- Early weaning that’s derailing the baby’s growth
Easiest Way to Induce Lactation
As mentioned above, one way to induce milk supply is through the baby suckling. Try holding the breast nipple and direct to the baby’s mouth. Some babies may suck while others will not.
If the baby suckles, use a breastfeeding carrier to keep her close to the breasts on the go. Milk will start to form more often the breasts are stimulated.
Keep the breast close to help her feed during the night. Your breasts will form more milk the more frequently the baby nurses.
If you’re in the process of adopting a child, you may wish to prepare yourself for adoptive breastfeeding early on.
In this case, have your nursing partner suck the nipple around 20 minutes a couple of times every day.
Another effective way is to massage the breasts with your fingers since most partners may not be comfortable with the suckling method.
It doesn’t matter how you do it; the primary aim is to imitate how the baby latch the breasts while nursing. Just make sure you massage them at least 20 minutes per session for best outcome.
If the baby refuses to suckle, do not worry there are lots of other ways to bring in milk supply. Below are alternative ways to induce lactation without pregnancy.
Expressing more often is a good way to trigger the breast to start making more milk. Start with shorter spans of 5 minutes then gradually upgrade to more minutes.
In the end, you should be able to pump for 15-20 minutes for about six to eight times every day. Pump quite often at shorter durations instead of longer sessions after many hours.
A good idea to build up more milk supply is to use a double electric breast pump. Expressing both breasts simultaneously leads to higher prolactin levels.
I’ve had bad experiences with battery and small breast pumps the reason I do not recommend them for long-term expressing.
They had an issue of running out of battery and they would lose suction in the middle of pumping. Besides, I had to suction one breast independently which was quite time consuming.
Hand Expressing and Breast Massage
Hand expressing is the simplest way to stimulate the breast to remove milk. A good rule of thumb is to combine pumping and hand expressing.
Hand expressing helps drain out all the milk that may be left during pumping. Emptier breasts communicate to breastmilk forming hormones to produce more milk.
Massage the breasts in between the pumping sessions. Massaging the breast and the nipples evenly helps maintain a constant flow of milk.
Herbal Supplements to Induce Lactation
The use of herbal supplements has been on the rise in the recent years. However, they should not be taken in extreme especially if you have a history of medical conditions.
Have a talk will your doctor on best supplements to induce lactation if you’re constantly allergic to certain herbs.
For breastfeeding mothers, major supplements have been found to dramatically increase milk output a few hours after taking the supplements.
However, with induced lactation, it may take a considerable length of time before you can produce adequate breastmilk.
Major herb supplements to induce breastmilk supply include:
Fenugreek is a major ingredient in most lactation supplements. It is available in syrup and capsules taken orally after a meal.
For nursing moms, fenugreek has been found to increase milk supply drastically 24 – 72 hours after consuming the herbal supplement.
Goat rue is another amazing supplement in fenugreek family. It is recommended you take dried plant as fresh plant may contain some harmful properties.
Blessed thistle will induce lactation correctly when administered with fenugreek. You may also use stinging nettle that will also supplement your diet with iron, vitamins and a host of other minerals.
You may also sprinkle funnel seeds in your dishes and daily meals or boil them to prepare your nursing tea.
Use of Medicines to Induce Lactation
You may have a talk with the doctor on prescriptions that induce production of breastmilk hormones.
A lactation consultant, a midwife or doctor will offer you guidance on best lactation supplements as well as when to stop them. Mostly, the doctor will prescribe hormonal pills with no estrogen.
The medicine will increase the levels of progesterone, prolactin and oestrogen as it happens to a pregnant mom during pregnancy.
What to Expect When Inducing Lactation
Like herbal supplements, hormonal pills may have allergic reactions and potential side effects so it’s recommended you have professional medical advice before committing to any of them.
To foster mothers, induced lactation may be difficult before you get the people around you understand why you’re doing it; and why you’re breastfeeding a baby you did not conceive.
Most people are oblivious about it and you may need to explain the concept and why it is important.
Family and societal support and understanding will give you peaceful mind that what you’re doing is the right thing.
How Long It Takes to Induce Lactation Without Conceiving
While induced lactation is possible, induced lactation timeline will vary. It may not be instant and you may need to be patient.
It is something that may take a couple of weeks before you get the best results even if it’s done on a regular basis.
Some foster moms will be able to generate abundant milk supply while others will have difficulties to build enough milk without the help of supplements.
When starting out, you need to be persistent before the new baby is conditioned to adoptive breastfeeding.
Naturally, most babies will feel the urge to nurse when sleepy or relaxed so let it flow and the baby will get accustomed to nursing with no pressure.
Spending lots of time with the new baby will build the connection and trust which will eventually lead to successful induced lactation.
While none of the approach is outright easy or hard, every mom will have their preference depending on how she thinks it is effective.
Every mom is different and therefore the outcome of every approach may be different.
Breastmilk is the healthiest food for newborns. If the mother is not able to breastfed a baby for valid reasons, adoptive breastfeeding through induced lactation is possible to a woman who haven’t given birth.
With the right mindset, support and adequate mental, emotional and physical preparation, any mom can provide the amazing breastmilk benefits to her child like the biological mother.