Breastfeeding and Inducing Lactation

Breastfeeding and Inducing Lactation

Induced lactation is a process in which a woman who is not producing breast milk is made to produce it. Induced lactation may be done in cases of:

  • Adoption.
  • Having another woman give birth to your baby (surrogacy).
  • Restarting breastfeeding after stopping it for a period of time.
  • A mother who is nursing an older toddler and wants to meet the milk supply for a newborn.

Induced lactation is more likely to be successful in women who have been pregnant before.

How does the body produce breast milk?

The process of producing breast milk starts when you get pregnant. At this time, hormones in your body change to prepare your body to make breast milk. Once your baby is born, your hormones send signals that tell your body to make breast milk.

How does induced lactation work?

Induced lactation reproduces the process that the body naturally goes through to make breast milk. To help make breast milk, you may need to:

  • Take medicines.
  • Practice breast stimulation techniques. Breast stimulation techniques mimic a baby suckling at the breast. They can be done by:
    • Gently rubbing and stretching your nipples.
    • Using a double electric hospital-grade pump to pump your breasts.

If you choose induced lactation, you may need to start taking medicines 3–4 months before you want to start breastfeeding. About 6 weeks before the planned breastfeeding start date, you may need to stop taking the medicines and start doing breast stimulation techniques several times per day. If you use a pump to pump your breasts, you may need to pump both breasts at the same time every 3 hours (8 times a day) for 20 minutes. Once your body is making milk and you start breastfeeding, your body will naturally increase the amount of milk it makes in response to the smell, sound, and feel of your baby.

Will I make enough milk to feed my baby?

Very few women are able to make all the milk their baby needs. If you choose induced lactation, you may need to supplement feedings with donated breast milk or infant formula to make sure your baby gets enough nutrition.

What else do I need to know?

  • Take medicines only as directed by your health care provider or trained lactation consultant.
  • Herbal medicines are available to induce lactation. These medicines are not approved or regulated by the FDA. Always check with your health care provider before using any herbal medicines.
  • If you need guidance, talk to your health care provider or lactation consultant. He or she may be able to help you start a milk supply and advise you in making important decisions about feeding your baby.
  • Induced lactation may cause you to experience some changes in your body, such as:
    • Mild to moderate changes in your menstrual cycle.
    • Some breast changes that include a feeling of fullness.
    • Some changes in your breast shape.
    • Milk leaking from your breasts from time to time.
  • Supplemental nursing systems are available to provide extra donated breast milk or formula at the breast while a baby nurses. The systems ensure that an infant gets enough nutrition during breastfeeding. Ask a lactation specialist for help finding and using this device.
  • Newborns or babies younger than 1 month old usually root at and accept the breast when using a supplemental nursing system. Rooting is when a baby opens his or her mouth upon being stroked on the cheek or lips.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your baby is older than 5 days old and:
    • Does not seem satisfied after feeding at the breast.
    • Is not producing 5–6 wet diapers per day.
    • Is not producing 3 stools per day.

Get help right away if:

  • Your breasts become swollen, red, and tender.

Summary

  • Pregnancy naturally prepares the breasts to make breast milk. Induced lactation is a process in which a woman who is not producing breast milk is made to produce it.
  • Lactation is usually induced by taking medicines and practicing breast stimulation techniques.
  • Very few women are able to make all the milk their baby needs. You may need to supplement feedings with donated breast milk or infant formula to make sure your baby gets enough nutrition.
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