Adoption, Parenting

How and Why I Induced Lactation

December 17, 2014

I’ve lost all our male readers already.

It’s just me and you, ladies….so let’s talk lactation.

First things first. Did you know that women who have NOT given birth can still breastfeed their babies?

Amazing, right?

Well once you understand the physiology of breastfeeding and that it’s triggered by prolactin levels (controlled by the pituitary gland in the brain) it makes sense that a non-pregnant woman can lactate granted she elevates her prolactin.

You may be thinking…but don’t high prolactin levels decrease fertility?

Why yes, indeed it does….so why would this old infertile gal decrease her fertility even further?

That’s something we had to think through. I don’t really have great fertility to start with but to shut my cycle off completely? That was a scary thought at first as I couldn’t imagine not actively trying to get pregnant.

But then I realized I needed a break from my fertility treatment rigmarole.

BIGTIME!

This summer was brutal on my body, mind, and soul. I was finally ovulating but not conceiving. It was rough to see my body ovulate month after month on ultrasound only to yet again not get pregnant. This is due to the fact that my ovaries and insides are likely caked in scar tissue and adhesions. So even though I can “ovulate” it’s not really a good chance I would conceive anyhow.

Knowing this and that it will require physical therapy and/or surgery to remove the adhesions, Jonathan and I decided it was just time for a break. We’ve had spent well over 2.5 years doing crazy intense protocols month after month trying to conceive and it was all panning out fruitless. Suddenly shutting my cycle off so I couldn’t think about conceiving was a welcome idea.

A sanity vacation if you will.

That’s when the research began.

I’ve always known that breast milk is best for babies but I wasn’t afraid of formula per say. I mostly pursued adoptive breastfeeding for the bonding and emotional benefits. I wanted all that skin to skin contact. I wanted to build a nursing relationship with our daughter that no one else would be able to provide her. But the fact that she would be healthier and filled with antibodies via breast milk was a huge additional bonus.

So I got on Facebook and joined an adoptive breastfeeding group. They’ve been and continue to be a HUGE place of support and content for me. It’s where I received guidance and wisdom on how to begin lactation induction. Which brings me to the point of this entire post! 🙂

Below is how I induced lactation:

The above methods were an accelerated and modified version of the Newman-Goldfarb Method for induction. Some women do more, some women do less but the above protocol had me making 8 ounces of milk per day by the end of 7 weeks of pumping and taking the medications/herbs.

All women are different but I was told by my adoptive breastfeeding group that the amount I made was ahead of the usual…which was really exciting to hear!

Many women making that amount of milk at least took some form of birth control pill to prepare their breast tissue for lactation. I didn’t do any of that. I had two months to prepare but I wanted a shot at exclusively breastfeeding Josephine.  By the time she was born, I knew I had quite a ways to go since she would soon need at least double what I was making.

But that is another post 🙂

Stay tuned for next time when I talk about how nursing Josie has been going.

Milk bottles photo in title image by cinderellasg. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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10 Comments

  • Reply Genevieve December 17, 2014 at 11:38 am

    You are amazing, Amanda! Such dedication and gift of self! Looking forward to hearing how things are going with nursing, too – I’ve been praying for you guys!

  • Reply Joanna December 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Congrats on being able to breastfeed! You are a wonderful example of a caring mother!

  • Reply Sarah December 17, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Love this! Do you happen to know anything about following this before or after giving birth? Just wondering because I tried so hard to be able to breastfeed both of my kids and just wasn’t able to produce enough milk. I tried all kinds of stuff, but I think the stress and emotional toll of it all was working against me too. Maybe it wouldn’t be safe during pregnancy but would be okay afterward? How long did you need to follow this protocol, or are you still following it? Hope things are going well for your little family!

    • Reply Amanda December 18, 2014 at 10:35 am

      Hey Sarah! There is a facebook group for “mothers on domperidone” and many of them birthed their babies but had low supply issues. Others are adoptive mommas breastfeeding like me. I believe many of them took it after birth to up their supply and then when desiring to try for another pregnancy they stopped taking it and let their milk gradually decrease. I followed the protocol for 7 weeks prior to our baby’s birth and will need to stay on Dom for the duration of our breastfeeding most likely. Hope that helps! 🙂

  • Reply Jessi Ann December 18, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Hi Amanda, I found your blog a couple of months ago (I went to Benedictine, so I saw Alzbeta’s adoption photoshoot of y’all on fbook)…

    My husband and I have just begun the adoption process and so I especially appreciate your posts. They give me hope.

    I am a full-time high-school teacher, and we cannot afford to go to a single income. So while I would love to breastfeed–I would have to supplement one way or the other. Life has a way of changing our plans for us, but I would nevertheless love to be able to breastfeed, albeit partially (emotional benefits, bonding, etc.). Finally, to the question: I would be interested to know how time intensive it is to induce lactation? Are we talking about pumping every 3-4 hours for 20 minutes, or an hour?

    Thanks for your blog!
    Pax et Bonum

    • Reply Amanda December 18, 2014 at 10:40 am

      Hi there! Congrants on being at the start of the adoption process! 🙂 And I am excited you’re interested in adoptive nursing!! Some women never pump before baby is born, they just use a Lact Aid supplemental nursing system attached at the nipple to nurse the baby which brings their own milk in over time. I pumped between 10-20 minutes every 3-4 hours…doable at work if your employer is on board but hard if they aren’t. Hope that helps! 🙂

  • Reply Janelle December 18, 2014 at 7:58 am

    This is so very, very cool. Look at what your body CAN do!

  • Reply Michelle December 22, 2014 at 12:41 am

    Hi, Amanda and Jonathan! I recently watched a documentaty titled Forks Over Knives. The DVD has extended interviews with a nutritionist who uses a plant based diet (no alternative medicine) to help women who suffer from infertility and reproductive issues to conceive. The documentary can be seen on Netflix but I think the DVD addresses infertility. If anything check out the website http://www.forksoverknives.com
    I know it sounds too simple to be true. According to the testimonies of many women it does work 9 times out of 10… I hope this is the answer to your prayers. And I also hope you sincerely look into it because I feel strongly that God wanted me to post this comment. Please don’t miss this amazing opportunity. And I am so happy for you both and your new baby!!!!

  • Reply Nursing Josie: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – truegoodandbeautiful.net December 22, 2014 at 5:36 am

    […] my last post on How and Why I Induced Lactation, I got a lot of questions as to how it’s going. So, for those who asked (and anyone else […]

  • Reply Top 10 Blog Posts of 2015 – truegoodandbeautiful.net December 31, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    […] 3. How and Why I Induced Lactation […]

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