“I wanted to do the best for my baby. When we realized I couldn’t stay pregnant I was heartbroken that I would never get to breastfeed my children. I had no idea it was possible and then I just started poking around google and found that you can induce lactation. It ended up being incredibly healing while we were waiting adopt to be able to produce milk.”
A story of patience, perseverance and belief that she could do it! How this mother induced lactation without being pregnant.
I received a beautiful message from a mother on Facebook the other day about her experiences breastfeeding her adopted daughter. She told me that she had been able to induce lactation leading up to the birth of her baby and had a fully established supply by the time she was born! I asked if she would be willing to share her story through interview. Here are her experiences and some tips for other women who would like to induce lactation…
Mira adopted her daughter at birth, she was chosen by the birth mother 10 days before her due date! She had never had a child before and had gone through two chemical pregnancies, an IVF cycle and donor embryo transfer. After she had tried to get pregnant using different treatments, her and her husband decided to adopt. Since she had never lactated before, she started researching how to induce lactation months before her baby was born:
“I started the Newman Goldfarb protocol as soon as we decided that we wanted to be parents through adoption. I took birth control and Domperidone for 9 months to simulate pregnancy and encourage breast tissue development and then pumped for 6 months prior to being matched. By the time our daughter was born I had already established a full supply. We had our first latch within 30 minutes of her birth and have exclusively breastfed ever since.”
The reason women are put onto birth control is that it mimics what happens during and after pregnancy. These hormone changes stimulate the body to produce more breast tissue and this matched with the pumping and Domperidone* equals MILK! Mira took 30mg of Domperidone per day which increased weekly until she was up to 120mg. This is the dose she has maintained as she is currently breastfeeding at 6 months old. Interestingly she did say that she has missed dosages here or there and has not noticed any dramatic decreases in her supply. Since her supply is now established, she should be able to wean from them completely as most women who take Domperidone only have to continue for a few months before weaning from them.
*You will need to check with your doctor regarding the laws of where you live and whether or not Domperidone can be prescribed for the purpose of lactation.
Here are some specifics on how Mira was able to establish her supply!
1. She pumped 6-8 times per day EVERY DAY leading up to the adoption. This is CRUCIAL to establishing your breastmilk supply. While most of us have heard the term, “supply and demand” and understand that this is how supply works, often times we forget what this means. Basically all it means is that as our breasts fill up, the production slows down. As our breasts are well drained (they are never empty), our production kicks into gear again! So we want to PREVENT our breasts from filling up as this is when the production slows down. Frequent draining of the breast means that you will be continually making more milk, more quickly. Pumping 8 times within a 24 hour period, every sing day, is ideal.
2. It took about one month of pumping 6-8 times per day along with taking Domperidone for her to reach a full supply. “I considered pumping 25 ounces (750mls) within a 24 hour period a full supply.” Babies between 1-6 months old take about 750mls within 24 hours. So up to six months old, babies take an average of 19-30 oz per day (570-900 mL per day). Getting to an output of about 25 ounces per day put Mira in a great position as she was making the average amount a baby takes in.
4. Try to remember WHY you are doing this to help you stay motivated!
When I asked Mira why she wanted to breastfeed she replied, “My mom was very passionate about breastfeeding, she breastfed my two older brothers for about 2 years each and then breastfed me (the youngest) until I was 4. It was normal in my family and it never occurred to me that I would ever feed my babies any other way. It took a lot of determination and perseverance and knowing what was most important. For me I really wanted to make milk, but I was prepared with an SNS (supplemental nursing system) to supplement and was ready to find donor milk if I wasn’t able to build a supply up myself.” For more information on using an SNS and donor milk, head here.
5. Get as much support as you can from family and/or friends. Partner support can be crucial to inducing or re-lactating. When I asked Mira if she felt as though partner support was important this is what she had to say, “Yes, my husband has been an amazing support. I was really nervous about talking to him about doing the process just because it’s not something commonly heard about and I was worried he would think it was a stupid idea. However he was absolutely thrilled that it was an option for us and has been very involved and supportive the entire time. Without his support I could have never done it. The hardest was explaining it to people. Even harder still was explaining it to people who weren’t as passionate about breastfeeding as I am. This is why I’m so open and willing to tell everyone, even if I’m worried about their reaction.”
6. When I asked Mira what tip she would give a mother starting or considering this journey she said, “Do your research and really understand the protocol you want to take.”
Some of the resources she mentioned were the book “Breastfeeding without Birthing”, Dr. Jack Newman
and the website: www.asklenore.info
Stay positive! Not everyone who induces lactation can make a full supply. Some use a supplemental nursing system (SNS or supply line) or they mix feed with bottles or formula and/or donor milk. Remember that even if you cannot make enough breastmilk to exclusively breastfeed your baby, EVERY DROP COUNTS! Every bit of breastmilk you can give your child is important. And remember…breastfeeding is not just about “the milk” but about comfort as well. It is about mothering through breastfeeding and this does not have to be just for mothers who are exclusively breastfeeding.
“The most rewarding thing is watching my body nourish my daughter. Knowing that even though I can not create life, I can sustain it and encourage it to thrive.”
*As with any article you see online, this is for general information only and not medical advice specifically for you! If you would like to induce lactation please work closely with your IBCLC and doctor.*