How I’m Inducing Lactation for Baby Girl {our adoption journey}

by GfG on July 19, 2015 · 3 comments

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We are about four weeks from estimated due date for Baby Girl.  I am seriously excited.  And distracted from all other tasks. It’s party hilarious how much so this is true and partly annoying.  Just like when I was pregnant with our other six kiddos.  Ahem.

And just like our other six kiddos, I plan to nurse Baby Girl. To that end, I am doing lots of prep work.

Since adoption doesn’t allow for me to enjoy (ha!) all the hormones associated with pregnancy that then naturally induce lactation, I am having to induce lactation on my own.  Yes, for real.  It can be done.  Not always successfully and not always enough to satiate the baby, but sometimes it can.

I’m hoping I am in the sometimes it can category for full feedings, but I will trust how God works it out.

Most of my research has shown two major routes: birth control pill protocol or pumping & herbs protocol.  Naturally, I went with the natural route: pumping and herbs.  Actually, it has ended up being a hybrid of natural and medication (but not hormones), which is typical of me.

So…. about a month into my protocol, here is what I’ve done to induce lactation:

Inducing Lactation Collage WEB

Step 1: Herbs

I started taking Motherlove herbal liquid mix the second week of June. I heard of these drops from Jennifer Buske on Instagram.  They contain the major herbs recommended for increasing milk supply.  And they taste absolutely horrid.  Thankfully, I found out they come in capsule form too.  After I finish the absolutely disgusting tasting drops, I will move on to the capsules.

Motherlove contains a proprietary blend of Goat’s rue, Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, Nettle, and Fennel.  I take it 3-4 times a day.

induce lactation WEB

Step 2: Collecting Donor Milk

Ok, this isn’t really for inducing lactation, but it’s a part of my process because I’d really like to not use formula. Yes, there are millions of brilliant adults who were formula fed.  I get that. Formula is not evil. I just would like to use breastmilk, if I can, for the same reasons I breastfed my other babies.  Since Baby Girl has Down syndrome and that means she will have a weaker immune system, I want to give her all I can to help her.

So, believe it or not: there are amazing, generous, wonderful women who pump and save breastmilk for babies not their own. It is stunning.  I reached out the local babywearing group and a team of women stepped up!  I have half a freezer full of breastmilk waiting for Baby Girl.

Step 3: Pumping

I started pumping right after Teen Camp week. I wanted to initiate this sooner, but knew I couldn’t keep it up during camp, so I waited.  I pump every three hours during the day, for fifteen to twenty minutes a session.   In case it isn’t obvious: this stimulates the mammary glands and attempts to trick the system into believing there is a baby to feed.

As a super side note, I bought a Pump Strap and it has changed this experience.  Truly. Sitting and pumping for 15-20 minutes, having to hold the flanges on and be still…. felt like a serious time waste.  No baby to bond with.  No activity.  Just the pump. BUT with the Pump Strap, I can walk around and do other things. Seriously.  Worth every penny.

pump strap and me

Yup, I’m in public.  Was at a park with the kids, a friend, and her kids.  I didn’t have to sit in a hot car or a running car (wasting gas) to do this. I wear the Pump Strap while driving, doing my makeup, drying my hair, or… blogging.

Step 4: Domperidone

After two weeks of pumping and seeing no results, I started taking Domperidone.  It’s a medication that increases milk supply as a side effect for the original use (intestinal issues).  In all the adoption breastfeeding groups, this is the card that seems to really play out well and give the necessary amount of milk.  A sweet friend gifted me some, so I started on one pill three times a day.  A week later, I went to two pills three times a day.  And four days later, I got drops of breastmilk.

I wept.

I was stunned and so so thrilled.

So, two days later, I went to three pills three times a day.  That is the top dose and where I will stay until Baby Girl gets here.

Every day, I get drops.  Two nights ago, I got enough to make a teeny tiny puddle at the bottom of the bottle.

first bits of milk

Friends, this is a huge gift and I’m grateful that God is blessing my efforts and heart’s desire.  Of course, it isn’t anywhere near enough to feed her, but it’s a start.

ETA: I’m hoping that after Step 6, I will be able to produce a supply without Domperidone.  After a month of a good supply on my own,  I will wean and see how it goes.

Step 5: Lactation food

I am not very good about this step.  I am trying, but I think I need to enlist the kids to help me remember to do this.  I am trying to eat foods that are known to help increase milk supply: oatmeal and flax, mostly.  Brewer’s yeast is on my list to buy.

Step 6: Nursing Baby Girl with an SNS

After Baby Girl is born, I will use a Supplemental Nursing System to feed her.  If you are unfamiliar with what an SNS is: it’s basically a bag that I wear around my neck that has a tiny tube going from the bag of breastmilk (or formula) down to my breast, feeding Baby Girl but allowing the baby to stimulate my system.  There are many benefits of doing this, but one is that it can kick my hormones into real gear once a real baby does the real thing. As opposed to a pump.

So… will it all work?  I don’t know.  Only God does.  I am doing my part to provide for the nourishment and bonding.  That’s all I can do.  He has to make it happen.  I’m hoping, but not demanding.  And I’m holding this out with hands open, trusting His plan more than mine.

Have you heard of inducing lactation?  Did you know adopted babies can be nursed and breastfed? 

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sherri July 19, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Love. Love. Love.
I would have wept over those little drops of breastmilk too!

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Amy August 2, 2016 at 7:34 pm

How is it going?
I have just recently discovered that this is a possible option. My husband and I have recently been contacted by an expectant mother about a private adoption. I’d LOVE to at least TRY to breastfeed. I am unable to have children, so I have no previous experience breastfeeding.
I think I will try your routine of herbs and pumping. Our “prospective” baby isn’t due until March. When do you think I should start trying to pump? I would think the earlier the better (I could store up any amount I produce, IF I produce). Also, how did you connect with other mothers who would donate their milk to you? I am in a rural area and we are keeping our potential adoption completely confidential (until the baby is legally ours). I’d be interested to reach out to anyone who would be willing to donate or help support me in my “inducing lactation” journey. :-)
Thanks so much for sharing your story.

Reply

GfG August 2, 2016 at 8:06 pm

Hi, Amy!
Jubilee will be one year old tomorrow!

I have stopped breastfeeding her. I stopped when she was two and a half months old. Sigh.

It wasn’t the inducing of the lactation. That went well. I was able to produce half of what she needed by the time we left the NICU. BUT her feeding struggles and her low muscle tone (she has Down syndrome) meant she couldn’t nurse and gain weight. She just didn’t have it in her. That was really really difficult to let go of for me, but when you have a baby with special needs, dreams need to change sometimes.

My tips to you:
Start pumping two months before due date. Start at every three hours during waking hours. Then start through the night after baby is born. You could start through the night sooner, but then you will be sleep deprived when baby arrives.
Buy Domperidone to have on hand. It changed the entire game for me. When I started taking it, I started producing really well.

I hope your private adoption goes through!

HUGS!!

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