Lactation Induction

Definition - What does Lactation Induction mean?

Lactation induction is the process of stimulating milk production in women whose bodies haven't done so naturally. This allows a woman to breastfeed a baby she has not given birth to, such as a child born to a surrogate mother or an adopted child. Breastfeeding is known to have many health and bonding benefits, so women who did not give birth may still wish to breastfeed their child.

FertilitySmarts explains Lactation Induction

Milk production is normally triggered towards the end of pregnancy by the relationship of the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and human placental lactogen. Estrogen and progesterone levels fall after delivery and the hormone prolactin increases to stimulate milk production. Lactation induction may involve using hormonal supplements to mimic this effect and encourage milk production in women who have not given birth.

Certain medications designed for other uses have been found to promote milk production in some women. One such medication is metoclopramide. These drugs are only available by prescription from a qualified health care provider.

Hormones or other medications used to induce lactation must also be accompanied by stimulation of the breasts and nipples. Usually, this is accomplished using a breast pump or having the baby suckle at the breast. Pumping of the breasts encourages the production and release of prolactin and helps to establish the milk supply.

If a woman's milk supply is insufficient to meet the needs of the baby, it should be supplemented with formula or donor breast milk. Milk production can take several weeks, so it is recommended to start the process before the baby arrives.

Women wishing to pursue induced lactation should speak to a lactation consultant and/or other health care provider prior to implementing any treatment regimen.

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