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?
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.
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:
- Domperidone 120mg/day
- Gaia Lactation Blend 3 pills/day
- Pumping with manual expression using the Medela Symphony Hospital Grade pump every 3-4 hours/day
- Mother’s Milk Tea and other Lactation blend teas 3-4 cups/day
- Drinking tons of water
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)