You might be saying "Inducing wha???" and I can understand your confusion. I had never known this was possible until a few years ago either.
"Inducing lactation refers to the process of making milk without pregnancy and birth."
It has been going on since the beginning of time... and yes even men can do it.... if they really wanted to! Women do it for a multitude of reason including having children through adoption, surrogacy and non-gestational mothers (lesbian couples).
This week is World Breastfeeding Week, what perfect timing to start my "breastfeeding" journey and share my journey with everyone!
And let me just add a disclaimer here... this post will be about boobs, milk coming out of boobs and other personal stuff, so just navigate away if you're not comfortable with that sort of stuff.
DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links and banner ads, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using these links.
How in the world is that possible???
There are 5 basic protocols you can follow to induce lactation. I chose the most popular and generally the most effective, the "Newman-Goldfarb Protocol." It takes the most preparation (time wise) and includes prescription medication so its not for everyone, but generally it yields the best results. Starting at 10 weeks gestation I took oral contraceptives (skipping the placebo) to mimic being pregnant, and also took a stomach medication known to cause lactation as a side effect (domperidone). At 30 weeks gestation I stopped taking the oral contraceptive, continued taking the domperidone and used an electric breast pump at least 8 times a day, i.e. every 3 hours (including overnight!!!). This drop in the hormones and frequent breast stimulation mimics what happens at birth with a newborn. I also personally added in a 2 herbal supplements into my regimen. Marshallow Root- to increase fat content in the milk (the milk I make is considered "mature" meaning it has the chemical composition of a mother of a 6-10 month old, not a newborn, and added fat is essential for newborns). And Sunflower Lectithin- to prevent clogged ducts and increase 'let-down.' (in that picture is also Blue Vervain which I take as a mood balancer, and 2 probiotics I take to help regulate my system)
I was able to get a free pump through my health insurance (Spectra 9Plus)-- I may have fibbed on the due date since I needed it before the 30 day window they give you... shhh. And my sister gave me her pump as well (Spectra S2- its a closed system so fine for sharing) so I plan on using the S2 mainly (its a more robust pump) and the 9Plus when/if I need to travel or pump in the car since it has a built in battery.
Three weeks before I started the pumping portion of the protocol I visited a local International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to go over the functions of the pump (wayyy to many buttons and options to figure out on my own!), and to make sure I was using the correct Flange size (the cones that go on your boobs). I could just tell the size that came with the pump just wasn't the correct one for me when I tested the pump, and I was right! So I'm glad I spent the time and money confirming that... it will make for a more comfortable and productive experience. I bought a great converter piece to be able to use smaller Medela Flanges with my spectra pump.
My first time pumping experience:
So Thursday, July 30th I took my last birth control pill, and Friday evening (at 30 weeks 3 days gestation) I officially pumped for the first time. I wanted to start on a weekend so I could get my 'routine' down before trying it at work. I had previously sterilized all my parts, got a hands free pumping bra, a pumping tote fully stocked with extra parts, coconut oil, a towel (for spills) and an insulated lunchbox to keep the milk cool. Also I bought a back support pillow for middle of the night pumps.
I was really excited to officially pump for the first time. Excited to finally be "doing something" and excited to show that my body is not a complete failure. I may not be able to grow my child inside of my own body. But I will be able to help him growth once he's outside. Lee, although not as excited as I am, and a bit weary about the toll this process has and will continue to take on me, has been very supportive. It was exciting to see a few drops of milk that first pump, some women don't get drops for days or even weeks, so to see some so soon was very encouraging.
By Saturday morning I was getting "pools" of milk in each bottle, enough to collect with a syringe and combine over the next 72 hours to get my first ounce to freeze for my future stash! How exciting. I used Milkies Mily Trays in the beginning to build up the freezer stash one ounce at a time.
Pumping at Work:
This frequent pumping schedule means I have to pump while I'm a work... which brings its own set of challenges. Luckily my employer is totally cool with this, and I'm very lucky I have my own office so I'm able to continue working while I pump instead of trekking to a storage room or other vacant office for 20 minutes 2-3 times a day. To be fair I didn't really "ask permission" I just sort of told them this is what I would be doing and they didn't question it. Legally employers must provide space and time for new mothers to pump breast milk for up to 12 months AFTER the birth of a baby...so if they wanted to be jerks they wouldn't have to allow me to do this, so I am very grateful they are.
Why am I doing this??
When I tell people (or people find out) I'm inducing lactation most people's first reaction is "that's possible??" then they say "wow that's seems like a lot of work... you're crazy!"
And yes it is a lot of work, but its totally worth it. From bonding to nutrients I want to give my son the best possible start to his special life. To me this temporary inconvenience is worth every drop of liquid gold I get. And yes I am fully aware it is unlikely I will have a full supply of milk to exclusively breastfeed (as most women who induce lactation don't), and that's ok. That's why there are other options out there and we are ready and willing to do what needs to be done to feed our son.
But every drop I can give my son the better I will feel and the healthier he will be. And every minute of bonding and soothing I can provide we will be better off as well. It is worth it.
Are you an expectant Mom through surrogacy or adoption and want to learn how to Induce lactation?
I started a Facebook Support Group you can request to join (please message an admin once you request to join).
There is an Adoptive Breastfeeding Group for those going through adoption as well.
And I ALWAYS recommend the book "Breastfeeding Without Birthing" by Alyssa Schnell as an all in one resource written by an adoptive Mom and IBCLC.
I will try to post updates on my journey here in case you're interested.
First week: drips to 2oz!
Friday I got drops which I did not save
Saturday-Monday (72 hours) I pumped 1 ounce total
Tuesday (24 hours) I pumped 1 ounce total
Wednesday (24 hours) I pumped 1.6 ounces total
Thursday (24 hours) I pumped 1.5 ounces total
Friday (24 hours) I pumped 2.1 ounces total!
Bram's Birth Story
Ways to Save Money
Things not to say to IPs
Tips for newly diagnosed
Mothers with MRKH
Our Gender Reveal
2000- Chrissy dx w/ MRKH
2002- Chrissy & Lee meet
2007- Chrissy & Lee Marry
2009- Chrissy 'hysterectomy'
2013- Awarded Cade Grant
7/3/14- IVF egg retrieval (5)
1/18/15- Embryo Transfer (1)
9/29/15 - Bram born!