Did you know that you can breastfeed a baby who you’ve not have given birth to? Surprised? You can breastfeed even though you have never been pregnant or have reached menopause or do not have a uterus. Shocked?
This process that enables a woman to breastfeed without going through pregnancy is called induced lactation. So, it's human milk in the modern world!
So whether you plan to adopt a baby, or have a child through a surrogate, remember, that you can breastfeed.
Any milk a woman produces is precious because it supplies the newborn with essential nutrients and immunity. It also strengthens the physical and emotional bond with the baby. Breast milk is the ultimate food a baby needs to support and protect himself/herself for the first six months of life. Till until recently, it was believed that only women who have gone through pregnancy can produce milk. With induced lactation, mothers who have not given birth naturally can develop a closeness to their baby.
Induced lactation has a hormonal component and a mechanical component. A woman may opt for either or both to start the production of milk.
In the mechanical component, a lot of stimulation to breast is done either manually or with a breast pump. This requires a lot of effort and time till results show up. The nipple and areola area is stimulated, several times a day. Some women have ‘nursing partners’ who simulate the suckling of an infant. Slowly, the body might start milk production.
If a woman is uncomfortable with stimulation, she can use a breast pump. You can start with two hours of pumping in the day and three hours in the night. Gradually, the duration is to be increased. It is hard work, but persistence is the key!
The hormonal component involves stimulating breast milk along with hormones, lots of herbs and galactogogues (foods that enable milk production). Hormonal pills like estrogen and progesterone are included in a hormonal treatment. However, it is advised that you take these pills only under a doctor’s supervision.
Foods like fenugreek and garlic are amazing galactogogues. Plenty of fluids, lots of happiness, good food and good rest gets your milk journey better.
Imagine you have ounces and ounces of milk stored in your freezer before your baby arrives. Isn’t it amazing?
Usually, adoptive parents or parents who are expecting a baby through surrogacy know of their baby’s arrival much in advance. Hence, the earlier you start trying, the better is the result. Usually, 5 to 6 months before the baby arrives is good time get enough milk supply.
Medical conditions or any health risk usually does not affect milk production.
Even transgender couples can opt for induced lactation if they wish to breastfeed.
After your baby arrives, let the baby initiate feeding on your breast within the first hour of birth/ you receiving him/her to allow the baby to get used to your smell. Feed as much as possible naturally to strengthen the mom-baby bond. Then, it works on supply demand basis.
Each woman’s body is different, so the quality and quantity of milk production varies. Even if you don’t produce much milk, the emotional benefits of breastfeeding can be enjoyed.
Let's make your journey of motherhood an amazing experience!
Also read: Lactation Information - Breastfeeding Basics
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