When breastfeeding consultants say that the main thing for a successful lactation is a strong desire of the mother, they are absolutely right. Because even a woman who has never been pregnant, if she really wants, can induce lactation and feed her child. Let’s take a closer look on what is induced lactation.
The Importance of Breastfeeding
Nature has awarded women with breasts not only for the sake of beauty. The main purpose of the female breast is the feeding of infants. And today, World Health Organization experts together with breastfeeding consultants all over the world claim that every woman who has mammary glands can cause lactation. In this case, it is not particularly important whether the woman has already been pregnant and gave birth in the past and whether she breastfed her children earlier. In this case, it is a question of restoring lactation. That means that women who have never been pregnant can also induce lactation if they have a strong desire and follow the recommendations of breastfeeding consultants. This process is called induced lactation.
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of breastfeeding in the relationships between mother and child. This intimate process forms a specific relationship between them. Women who are really ready for motherhood understand this.
As the statistics show, foster mothers psychologically suffer from the inability to feed newborns with their own milk, in order to fill them with their love. For such self-sacrificing mothers, measures of induced lactation have been developed.
Of course, it is easier to restore the arrival of breast milk in women who once fed children, than to induce lactation in those who did not give birth. However, everything is possible with a strong desire, perseverance and qualified help.
Complex Approach to Induced Lactation
The main idea of induced lactation is artificial stimulation of milk production. Mechanical stimulation of the mother’s breast by the baby is the “engine” of lactation. Thus, in order to induce the flow of milk, it is important to apply the baby as often as possible even to an empty breast. After the milk begins to appear (at first it will be just a few drops), in addition to breastfeeding, the mother will need to pump her breasts regularly, even if she can express only a couple of milliliters. Multiple pumping during the day can “swing” the lactation.
In especially difficult cases, when mechanical measures are not enough, hormone therapy is prescribed to the mother. This means that additional doses of estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, etc. are administered. Similar drugs may be recommended by the breastfeeding consultants, but special drugs must be prescribed only by obstetrician-gynecologists.
Stimulation of the Breast as a Method of Induced Lactation
The main principle of milk production is to start breastfeeding or pumping at least from 8 to 12 times a day. The more you stimulate the breast, the more milk will appear. If the baby is not with you yet, begin to pump with your hands or with the help of a breast pump.
At first, there will be no milk at all, but it does not matter. For now, you just tell your body that you need milk for your baby.
Stimulation with Hormones as a Method of Induced Lactation
To increase the amount of milk, many women additionally take a combination of hormones simulating pregnancy and childbirth, and then milk products. The success of this method largely depends on how much time you have before the appearance of the baby. But even if there is very little time, this method gives more milk than if you rely only on feeding and pumping.
The hormonal method of increasing the amount of milk at first suppresses lactation. So, it is not suitable for women who already breastfeed the baby.
Be sure to consult with your doctor before you start taking medicine because some women shouldn’t take the hormones. During the reception of hormones, you can have the usual symptoms of pregnancy – nausea, weight gain, etc. And, eventually, the breast will become more sensitive and increase in size, preparing for feeding the baby.
Recent studies have shown that most women can cause lactation without pregnancy. And what’s really important, their children develop normally. Most women who caused lactation without pregnancy, including for foster children, do not regret it. What’s more, they would advise other mothers to breastfeed.
Induced lactation is the formation of lactation in a woman who has not previously breastfed (and has not even been pregnant).
If the mother for some reason has a reduced to a minimum lactation, or she stopped breastfeeding for quite some time, or if a woman adopts an infant from a maternity hospital or a couple of months baby from the family, the mother with the help of breastfeeding consultants and doctors can restore lactation. What’s more, it is indeed possible to induce lactation in a woman who has not been pregnant and never breastfed. Yes, it is quite real and it works.
In fact, there are very few cases when a woman cannot physically breastfeed. These are situations with oncology, removal of the mammary gland and, in connection with this, violations of breast anatomy or birth defects in the mechanism of milk production. There is no more than 0.5-1% of such women in the world.
All other women can breastfeed with properly organized or induced lactation. But this requires a great desire of the mother and help from the family and professionals. And also it requires a few special conditions.
Special Conditions for Induced Lactation
To actively increase, restore or induce lactation in a woman who did not breastfeed earlier, it is necessary to create special conditions. It is easier and faster to go through the process if the child is not yet 3 – 4 months old. Also if the baby has the experience of breast sucking and if the child has not previously been fed from the bottle. Then the baby will easily remember the reflexes of correct breast capture and will effectively stimulate it.
The process will be more difficult and more lasting, and you will need more patience and strength to induce lactation if the child’s age is more than four months. Also if the baby used to suck milk from the bottle, even if it contains expressed milk from the breast, and if the child is accustomed to a pacifier. Under such conditions, “nipple confusion” occurs and the baby refuses the breast in favor of the bottle nipple. The process will also be more difficult with the kid who was rarely held in the arms and who is not used to a skin-to-skin contact. It will not be easy with a child who did not receive breastfeeding at birth, or if a break in breastfeeding lasted more than two months.
However, in any of these situations, with a great desire and patience, you can achieve results and establish a successfully induced lactation.
Infinite love for the baby, mom’s enthusiasm and dedication will be the triggers for both induced lactation and maintaining the amount of milk at the proper level. Also, it is a well-known fact that it is the baby who starts the process of milk formation. By sucking, the child is stimulating the mother’s breast and encouraging her hormones and the entire endocrine system to produce breast milk.
The Main Thing in Induced Lactation Is Desire
It is necessary to observe two indispensable conditions to stimulate, induce or to increase lactation if it becomes critically small:
The first condition is the desire of the mother to breastfeed and her confidence in the success of her efforts. However, it does not matter whether this fact refers to induced lactation or an increase in the amount of breast milk. It is important to answer yourself honestly whether you are willing to be patient and consistent, persevering and calm, confident that you will fulfill your destiny to be a nursing mother. It is also important to be prepared to fully and accurately follow all the recommendations of an experienced pediatrician and a breastfeeding consultant. They will help with word and deed, but much depends on the nursing mother herself.
The second condition is the desire of the child to apply to the breast and suck the breast. But, if the child remains hungry, applying to the “empty” breast, then he quickly loses the desire to take the breast again in the future. That means that when applying to the breast a child should not starve until the amount of milk is sufficient.
Supplementary feeding in the form of formula is recommended in this situation. Only specially adapted baby food in the form of mixtures is recommended for feeding. They should be picked up by a pediatrician who, together with a breastfeeding consultant will support you and help you.
Induced Lactation Tips
- Look for advice and support from mothers who have successfully nursed their adopted children. You can find such a mother through your breastfeeding consultant or through your pediatrician.
- Contact a breastfeeding consultant as soon as you learn that you will have a baby. The ideal situation is when you find out about this before the baby is born. Preparation in advance is best but is not absolutely mandatory.
- Here’s what you need: a breast pump, preferably with a dual system. Stimulate breast sucking, using a breast pump as often as you would feed a newborn, about every two – three hours. Your breastfeeding consultant will show you how to use the breast pump and develop a pumping schedule for you. You will also need a complementary feeding system.
- Choose a pediatrician with experience in consulting mothers who breastfed adopted children.
At the Hospital
- If possible, try to be present at the birth of the child. So, the child can make a contact with you immediately.
- While the child is in the hospital, try to be present near him/her for as long as possible. With the help of a breastfeeding specialist, start feeding your baby with an artificial mixture. At the same time, apply the baby to the breast using the supplementary feeding system.
- Remember, the frequency of sucking stimulates milk production. Frequent sucking of the breasts causes your milk production system to turn on. Most mothers start to produce some milk within three – four weeks. In addition, hold the baby, sleep together, and spend as much time with the baby as possible. All these methods, which simply ensure the closeness to the baby, also increase the production of milk.
- Do not think about how soon you will have milk and how much. Even after the milk appears, do not put special hopes on your milk. The amount of milk you produce is not the ultimate goal. The main advantage of breastfeeding a foster child is close contact, which exactly breastfeeding helps to establish.
Breastfeeding is ideal for foster children, but it is also beneficial for mothers. Sucking the breast by the baby causes an influx of your maternal hormones. It gives an additional impulse to the formation of your attachment to your child. What’s more, by breastfeeding a foster child, you give the best stimulus to the development of the baby.