New Delhi: Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. It provides all the energy and nutrients that an infant needs. It is safe, clean and contains antibodies which help protect against many common childhood diseases. Induced lactation is the practice of helping a woman who has not been pregnant produce milk.
Indeed it is a close physical and emotional relationship between a mother and her baby. It is much more than just breast milk. As surrogacy is getting more common with Assisted Reproduction, the commissioning mother who enjoys parenthood through surrogacy should also get an opportunity to breastfeed the baby. Through induced lactation it is possible for these moms to enjoy the breastfeeding experience, along with its suggested health benefits.
The intended mothers might go through remorse of not having given birth to the baby themselves and so an opportunity to be able to breastfeed the infant gives them great joy and satisfaction. Induced lactation gives an opportunity to bond with the baby and fills the void. Lack of breastfeeding also deprives the baby the advantages of breast milk which includes improved nutritional, emotional and cognitive development as well as protection against infections. Only two things are needed for successful breastfeeding, breasts and functional pituitary gland that produces the hormones needed for breastfeeding.
The amount of milk produced when inducing lactation can vary widely. While some parents make no milk and others make all the milk their babies need, most will make a partial milk supply. The necessary component to induce lactation is to stimulate and drain the breasts. That stimulation or emptying can happen with baby breastfeeding, with an electric hospital grade breast pump. The composition of milk produced by inducing lactation is comparable to that produced following birth.
How to induce lactation:
An experienced International Board Certified Lactation Consultant can work with parents to develop a personalised protocol customised to meet their specific health history, circumstances.
Breast is prepared by estrogen and progesterone which cause proliferation of the ductal and alveolar system just like the way it happens during pregnancy. These hormones work in association with an increase in serum prolactin levels. The approach basically tries to make the body of the woman inducing lactation "behave" that she is pregnant.
Step 1: Preparing breasts for lactation
This step mimics the hormonal and breast changes that occur during pregnancy. Many parents take hormonal therapy for a period of time to achieve this.
Step 2: Starting to make milk before the baby arrives
Milk is often produced very, very slowly when lactation is between days 3 -5 following birth. Parents will often start the process of growing their milk production several weeks or months before baby is born. Frequent pumping and drainage of breasts is the main component of this step.
Step 3: Breastfeeding and increase in production.
The baby is here and the mother can begin breastfeeding. The most important intervention is dedicated pumping of the breasts using a hospital grade electric breast pump and it requires commitment by the mother. All women undergoing induction of lactation need thorough counselling to understand that exclusive breastfeeding is not the aim of this induction and that the baby does need formula supplementation.