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Induced Lactation, in the simplest of terms, refers to stimulating milk production in women. This is usually opted by women who have never had a biological child and hence choose to artificially stimulate lactation in their breasts so that they can nurse the baby with the highly nutritious breastmilk.
Generally, women who either adopt a child or have a baby through surrogacy go for induced lactation. It is so believed that besides providing the baby with the essential nutrients for health, breastfeeding the baby also help build and strengthen the bond between the mother and the baby. This is the prime reason why women prefer inducing lactation if they are not naturally able to breastfed the child.
What happens in a normal case of pregnancy is that the natural production of breast milk is triggered by an interaction between the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and human placental lactogen. At the time of delivery, the normal levels of hormones estrogen and progesterone tend to fall dramatically, thereby letting the levels of hormone prolactin to rise and enabling the women to lactate or produce breast milk. Induced lactation is based on the same principle and is accomplished by successfully mimicking the normal process of milk production in females.
Lactation, when has to be induced artificially, is generally performed by two common methods – hormone therapy and medications. Women who do not have much time to prepare their body for induced lactation usually opt for medications where they often use a combination of birth control pills and galactagogues to make the body mimic a pregnancy-like state. This is then followed by artificially pumping the breasts, which replicates the sucking action of a baby and enables the body to produce milk.
The other method i.e. the hormone therapy is preferred when there is sufficient time (at least a period of 6 months) before having the baby. The hormone therapy generally lasts six months or more. Here, you’ll be prescribed supplemental estrogen or progesterone that prepares your body to mimic the effects of pregnancy. Statistics reveal that women who try inducing lactation for a period of as long as 6 months attain up to 100% success.
Whether you opt for the medication or the hormone therapy, pumping plays a crucial role in preparing the body for lactation. Pumping encourages the production and release of prolactin which is essential for milk production. It is hence important that pumping is maintained as a routine practice until the baby arrives. Ideally, a woman should pump for at least 15 – 20 minutes every 3 hours to be able to successfully induce lactation and produce sufficient quantity of breast milk.
Remember, if you are one among those planning to induce lactation so as to fulfill your baby’s nutritional requirements, it is important that before taking any step, do talk to your doctor regarding the same. Do not hesitate to take consultation from your doctor whenever required. Appropriate counseling is of utmost importance if your goal is a healthy baby and a healthy family.