Inducing Lactation
Author: Pamfan


A question we've been asked quite a lot from people is "is it possible to naturally induce lactation?" The basic answer is almost always yes, although it is a major undertaking. The notes below are intended to provide some general guidance. We'd be very interested to hear from any couples who have had experience of this with other notes and information.

How does induced lactation work?
The two hormones that are responsible for milk production are prolactin and oxytocin, Both prolactin, the milk-making hormone, and oxytocin, the milk-releasing hormone, are produced in response to nipple stimulation. While there are now several regimens which use hormone therapy to assist in bringing in milk, many women have induced lactation with only mechanical stimulation. This consists of breast massage, nipple manipulation, and sucking - either by a baby, a partner or a hospital grade electric breast pump.

The research that we've done suggests that mechanical simulation methods, particularly if combined with herbs, are the most effective. These can also work well if you want to boost milk supply.

A nursing schedule
You'll need to adopt a nursing schedule and be willing to keep to it. As a guide an absolute minimum schedule would be half an hour three times a day. If you wish to induce sooner then longer sessions may help but the strength of suckling probably won't make any difference and may actually hurt. These sessions can be very enjoyable and can create quite a bond between men and woman on their own.

A pumping schedule tends to work a little differently since you want to build up the process more gradually but may need to use longer sessions. As a guide for a 6 week process

1st week
Using a hospital grade pump with a double pumping kit. Pump 6 times daily for 10 minutes.

2nd week
Pump 6 times a day for 20 minutes per pumping.

3rd week
Pump 6-8 times daily for 20 minutes.

4th-6th Week
10 times daily at least one pumping at night.

Certain herbs can be used to help increase milk production. Easily the most well known and popular is Fenugreek which woman have been using for centauries.

Fenugreek (450-600mg capsules) (Trigonella-foenum-graceum)
Capsules 3 caps 3x daily or 3 ml tincture 3-4x daily.

Alfalfa Tablets.
Contains estrogenic precursors and has lots of vitamins and minerals in absorbable form. (400-600mg tablets)
Start with 1 capsule 4 times a day and work up to 8 capsules a day. If stools get too loose stop and only use 1 dose less. You should end up taking 2 tablets 4 times daily.

Borage seed oil. 2, 1000 mg caps daily. Or 1 pt. Of borage leaf tea daily. This is high in Gamma Lenolenic Acid and Gamma lenoleic Acid.
Or use 2 1000mg caps of Evening Primrose oil. Does essentially the same thing. Both of these will increase the richness of mothers milk. 

You'll need to plan to buy some new cloths since as her breasts grow many clothes that used to fit her before will now be to tight and may put pressure on the breasts. This in turn can make it harder to induce since the brain begins to get mixed signals. It may also be a good idea to get a nursing bra and other maternity wear. For a few places to start looking have a look here.

It's a good idea to check daily that the bra is still fitting correctly. Fairly obviously if the breasts are tight in the cup its time to go up another size - its fine if they fill the cups completely. Generally it's a good idea to get a new bra each time the cup size increases by one size.

You need to make sure that you are getting plenty of calcium since if you don't there is a possibility that your body may start to use calcium from your bones which can lead to osteoporosis. You will probably also need to drink more water as milk production uses quite high levels of water and may otherwise cause dehydration. Your appetite will probably increase since you alveoli will be using around 500 calories per day. By the same token the milk you produce is very high in calories - your partner will be getting around 500 additional calories a day and may need to change his diet too.

What to expect
At first you will see only a few drops each nursing session. This will increase with each nursing session until you decide you have enough, or until your full milk supply comes in. Once the milk comes in you can have less frequent nursing sessions, but keep in mind that the milk will continue to fill up in the breasts which can create pressure and be uncomfortable. A mechanical pump may be useful in an emergency situation to relieve the pressure.

Regulating the supply
It may be easiest to get to the point of full supply then decrease the amount of nursing activity until you reach a level that you and your partner are both happy with - milk production will be controlled by the amount used and other factors that are mentioned elsewhere in the article such as pressure on the breasts so decreasing a bra size may also help reduce production though may be uncomfortable.

Getting Medical Help To Induce

One treatment that is quite common is to simulate the hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy. It is often used to induce lactation in expectation of adopting a baby. This treatment begins by using supplemental estrogen to simulate the high-estrogen state of pregnancy. Then the estrogen is abruptly withdrawn which mimics the rapid hormonal changes after delivery. Thereafter a prolactin-enhancing drug such as metacolpromide (Reglan) is then instituted at which point you should also start using a breast pump to help induce.

Only ever get products from a doctor.

For further advice and information we strongly recommend

As we've said at the top of the article this is not an easy undertaking, but the bond of love that can form between a man and a woman is quite an extraordinary thing and we think it is well worth the effort.

Reprinted with permission.


Land of Milk and Honey 2007
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