How does lactation happen?

Lactation, the production of breast milk, is the result of the interaction of the hormones estrogen, progesterone and prolactin, during the end of pregnancy. Once the baby is delivered, estrogen and progesterone levels fall while prolactin remains high – this is what causes lactation.

So, what is induced lactation?

Induced lactation is the result of successfully replicating lactation.

What is the process for induced lactation?

That depends on how much prep time you have.

If you have several months to get ready for induced lactation:

Your OB/GYN may suggest estrogen or progesterone hormone therapy for several months. This serves to make your body mimic pregnancy effects.

About two months before you anticipate breastfeeding, the hormone therapy will be discontinued. Breast pumping – to stimulate the prolactin – with a hospital-grade electric breast pump is the next step. Start by pumping five to 10 minutes every three to four hours. After a couple of weeks, increase to 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours. Continue this until your baby arrives.

If you have only a short time to prepare for induced lactation:

You may not have time for the hormone therapy, but your OB/GYN may suggest other medications to help induce lactation. Breast pumping remains an essential part of getting ready for your baby.

Once I start breastfeeding, do I need to keep using the pump?

Yes! Continue to pump about 10 minutes after each breastfeeding to help establish your milk.

Should I also give my baby formula?

During those first weeks of breastfeeding, you might need to supplement with either formula or donated breast milk. Your OB/GYN or a lactation specialist can help you decide that.

Contact your neighborhood Texas Health Care Obstetrics & Gynecology clinic in DFW for more information on inducing lactation and how it can benefit your family.