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How Can I Induce Lactation?

Many women attempt to induce lactation with a breast pump.
Fenugreek is a spice used in cooking and a dietary supplement.
An adoptive mother might induce lactation to feed the baby.
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  • Written By: Brendan McGuigan
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 June 2014
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Many people are unaware that it is actually relatively easy to induce lactation, even if you are not pregnant. People induce lactation for a number of reasons, including to breastfeed adopted infants, to breastfeed children born extremely prematurely, and simply if the body’s natural lactation doesn’t kick in.

There are a few different ways to induce lactation, some of which use traditional methods which have been used for thousands of years, and others of which use modern techniques, such as hormonal therapy, to induce lactation. Both have their pros and cons, and deciding which method to induce lactation by is something only the new mother can decide.

For thousands of years women have induced lactation in order to feed adopted children, or the children of other mothers who for whatever reason could not feed their own children. The term wet nurse is often used to describe a woman who looks after another woman’s child, and also breastfeeds them. Although often a wet nurse was a woman who had recently given birth herself, and so was already lactating, some wet nurses would induce lactation to breastfeed a child.

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During a pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes many hormonal changes. A number of these hormones, most notably progesterone, estrogen, and prolactin, all increase fairly drastically. One result of this hormonal increase is the swelling of the breasts, and an increase in the actual size of the breasts’ ducts. After giving birth, both the estrogen and progesterone hormones begin to decrease, while the prolactin continues to increase. This new imbalance causes natural lactation.

The generation of prolactin can be stimulated without pregnancy, however, simply by stimulating the nipples regularly. The most common way to induce lactation traditionally was simply to allow an infant to nurse. Although milk would not initially be generated, over time lactation will begin. Since infants can become very frustrated if they are continually trying to feed and there is no milk, many people begin to induce lactation using a breast pump initially. After the generation of milk has begun, then they will switch over to the infant.

The drug domperidone is also sometimes used as a chemical method to induce lactation. Domperidone stops dopamine from being produced as readily, and dopamine in turn prevents the production of prolactin. So taking domperidone increases the amount of prolactin produced, which in turn can induce lactation. Some people undergo an even more intense chemical process, by strategically using birth control pills to fool the body into thinking it is pregnant. Although this may be effective, there is the very real danger of side-effects, and a doctor should be consulted before attempting anything using pharmaceuticals to try to induce lactation.

Some herbs are also recommended to help increase the volume and flow of milk. Blessed thistle, fenugreek, and red raspberry leaf are all thought to help with milk production, although no extensive trials have been done to prove this clinically.

At its most basic, the principle of inducing lactation is simple: if there is a demand for milk, milk will be supplied. In fact, there are even cases of some men lactating after taking drugs that increase the levels of prolactin in the body, and there is some evidence that extended nipple stimulation in men may cause very minor lactation.

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Discuss this Article

anon321532
Post 14

I've been talking for hours on the phone every day to my son's girlfriend who is about to give birth to my grandchild. Tonight I reached down to my nipple and thought I felt wetness on each one. I'm almost 48 and only have had one child -- 23 years ago. I'm wondering if this is a sympathy type reaction to the mama.

Also, it's been about four months since I've been with a lover, but he really stimulated my nipples and they have been more sensitive since then, I've noticed. I like the idea of adult nursing if I can just find the right man.

I'm very interested in trying the above suggestions.

anon290225
Post 12

We adopted a male child two months ago. My wife has infertility problem due to endometriosis and we have had two IVF failure results in the past. Now she is 36 years old and in a postmenopausal position. Can she produce breast milk through induced lactation?

What is the detailed process?

anon289616
Post 11

Thanks, anon189113. You have given me those answers that I been looking for. I also am a male wanting to have lactating breasts.

anon239362
Post 10

I was wondering if I could induce with an automatic breast pump overnight. Would that work?

anon238387
Post 9

I am a 14 year old male who wants to lactate, a lot. How can I do this without taking herbs etc.?

anon210442
Post 8

Would pumping for an hour, five or six times a day, along with daily 7,000mg fenugreek get the job done?

Also, does milk thistle help as well as blessed thistle?

anon210014
Post 7

I am an almost 34 year old woman who is *not* pregnant by any means. I am in a committed relationship with a wonderful man and we are going to try and conceive. However, last night, I was doing a self breast check seeing as I just finished my monthly cycle. I was feeling around my nipples and I noticed a milky discharge. Now here is the thing: my friend (and next door neighbor) is about due to deliver a baby. Is it possible for me to start lactating mildly because she is pregnant and I hang out with her practically every day?

I did call my local E.R. and the nurse I spoke to said that it wasn't normal and that I needed to see my doctor in the morning and discuss it with her. I have been taking prenatal vitamins now for about a week. Wondering if that could be the factor that is causing my breasts to leak milk. I'm just confused and just a little bit nervous as to why I am doing this. Any suggestions?

anon189113
Post 6

I am a male who is currently lactating. It takes some time but here's how I did it.

First, I started taking fenugreek, about 1200 milligrams a day with milk thistle and red clover. I use a medela pump in style dual breast pump. I pump twenty a minutes a day every two hours. Yes, you have to get up at night and do it. It takes about two months for the milk to coming in.

My breasts now get engorged and leak after about three hours if I don’t pump. The milk flow is very big now, about 3-4 ounces from each breast. The feeling is really awesome and it's so cool to squeeze and see it squirt out. You have to be patient and stay on schedule. It's well worth the wait.

anon185322
Post 5

I want to induce lactation. I'm hoping a breast pump and nipple stimulation work.

anon162689
Post 4

Yes, nipple stimulation and the use of a breast pump. Without any herbs or drugs, within a month, I was lactating.

anon145855
Post 3

this worked really well for me. it's kind of hard to do behind my parents' backs but it's so rewarding.

jampa59
Post 2

I am a male who started taking female herbs to see if i could grow breasts and/or lactate. For the past two months i have been taking fenugreek, fennel, red closer, saw palmetto, and pueraria mirifica. I started the PM about three weeks ago and it feels like i have put the growth into hyperdrive.

So, as a man, i can say not only is it possible but it is fairly easy to achieve.

cmsmith10
Post 1

A good regular schedule of breast stimulation is the best way to induce lactation. Eight 20 minute sessions a day is recommended. I know that many women would find it virtually impossible to stick to such a tough schedule. The more sessions you can do the faster and better your results will be. You should schedule your sessions at regular intervals throughout the day.

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