Induced Lactation and Adoptive Breastfeeding (2023)

Adoptive parents often want to know if there is anything they can do to induce lactation and nurse their new baby. To help you on your parenting journey, here is a look at what you can do to activate lactation and start producing breast milk for your child.

Share this content

How to Induce Lactation

Since breast milk is recommended as the best food for babies, many families who plan to adopt are interested in whether they will have this option with their new addition. The answer is: Yes. Breastfeeding an adopted baby through induced lactation is possible, but it takes plenty of planning, introspection, and support.

When you haven’t given birth, building up breast milk supply involves “tricking” your body with cues that tell it to produce milk. It’s important to understand that every woman’s body is different. Some adoptive moms will be able to build a full milk supply, and others may not make enough to completely sustain their baby without supplementation.

Remember: any amount of breast milk is of great value to a baby. The focus of adoptive breastfeeding and induced lactation should be the relationship and bond it helps mother and baby build. It’s also important to remember that breast milk supply tends to increase with regular nursing or pumping, so don’t be discouraged if your breast milk supply is low at first.

(Video) HOW TO INDUCE LACTATION - adoptive breastfeeding

For adoptive parents who want to know what they can do to start producing breast milk even though they weren’t pregnant, here are some tips to help induce lactation and increase breast milk supply:

Work with a Lactation Professional. Reach out to your doctor, midwife, or a lactation consultant if you plan on inducing lactation. They can help you build a personalized plan based on your goals, connect you to resources, and provide important expert guidance. For some women, your healthcare provider may discuss the option of taking hormones that imitate the hormone levels of pregnancy.

These medications are stopped after a short while, tricking the body into sensing that a baby has been born (and thus producing breast milk). They may also recommend that you take certain galactagogues (lactation enhancements) to potentially help stimulate milk production. Consulting with a lactation professional is a great place to start for women who want to know how to induce lactation outside of pregnancy.

Stimulation and Expression. Starting about two months before the date when baby is expected to join your family is ideal for stimulating milk production if time permits. By introducing a routine of stimulus and expression for your breasts, you can help begin milk production and induce lactation naturally. Gently massage your breasts by hand for a few minutes, then use a hospital-grade (multi-user) double electric breast pump for about 10 minutes more.


Do this after waking, before going to sleep, and several times throughout the day for your body to begin reacting to the implied “demand” for breast milk. Drops of milk usually appear, on average, about a month or so after starting this routine, and milk supply typically builds over time.

Specialty-Feeding Devices. Adoptions can be unpredictable. Sometimes parents have plenty of time to prepare. Other families enjoy the arrival of their baby before the milk supply has a chance to develop. Specialty products like the Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) protect the option to breastfeed because it lets you supplement your baby directly at the breast.

The SNS allows expressed breast milk, donor milk, or formula to be fed through a thin silicone feeding tube that is taped to the nipple, providing baby with the sensation of feeding from the breast and sucking stimulation to help build your supply. If you are having trouble activating lactation, specialty feeding devices can simulate the nursing experience.

Track Your Progression. After inducing lactation, tracking your baby's feeding sessions and your pumping sessions with a convenient, easy-to-read printable log can help you stay organized, set realistic breast milk feeding goals, and best understand your breastfeeding journey in an "at-a-glance" way. Logs will also help you maintain regular pumping and nursing habits which, in turn, may help stimulate your breasts for increased lactation.

(Video) HOW TO BREASTFEED AN ADOPTED BABY | Induced Lactation Story!

(Video) Lactation consultant explains adoptive breastfeeding method

Creating a Bond With Your Baby

Breastfeeding is not just for biological families. With the proper preparation, expectations, and professional support for successful induced lactation, an adoptive mom can provide her child with the amazing benefits of breast milk and build a strong, nurturing, and loving bond along the way. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t induce lactation or produce enough milk to exclusively meet your baby’s needs. You’re creating a bond with your new addition that will last a lifetime.


Can you induce lactation for adoption? ›

The answer is: Yes. Breastfeeding an adopted baby through induced lactation is possible, but it takes plenty of planning, introspection, and support. When you haven't given birth, building up breast milk supply involves “tricking” your body with cues that tell it to produce milk.

How long does induced lactation take? ›

How long does it take to induce lactation? If you're interested, you should talk to your doctor and start the process well before the arrival of the baby. Milk production can take weeks to begin—an average of 4 weeks—after you start pumping. The stress of the adoption process can also disrupt the production of milk.

How do you induce lactation if not pregnant? ›

The only necessary component to induce lactation—the official term for making milk without pregnancy and birth—is to stimulate and drain the breasts. That stimulation or emptying can happen with baby breastfeeding, with an electric breast pump, or using a variety of manual techniques.

What is the protocol for induced lactation? ›

The person inducing lactation should be on the combination birth control pill for at least 16 weeks and continue it until about 6 to 8 weeks before the baby is born and then stop the combination pill completely. This implies a period of 22 to 24 weeks total.

Is forced lactation possible? ›

Induced lactation depends on the successful replication of this process. If you have months to prepare, your health care provider might prescribe hormone therapy — such as supplemental estrogen or progesterone — to mimic the effects of pregnancy. Hormone therapy may last for months.

How do you relactate for adoption? ›

What are the keys to successful relactation?
  1. Frequent stimulation. Some studies have shown that relactation is most likely to work if the woman has nipple stimulation every 2 hours around the clock for many days.
  2. Robust suckling. ...
  3. Social support. ...
  4. Skin-to-skin contact.
Nov 20, 2020

Does induced lactation make breasts bigger? ›

During this time the milk ducts grow and prepare to produce milk, just as they would during a pregnancy. You may notice heaviness and tenderness of the breasts during this time and many people report that their breasts increase around one cup size.

Is induced lactation permanent? ›

Lactation is hormonally driven and occurs naturally in people who are pregnant. It can also be induced in those who are not pregnant. Lactation will continue as long as milk is being removed from your breasts.

What are the benefits of induced lactation? ›

Benefits. Induced lactation may be an option for women starting a family using surrogacy, as it allows them to experience the process of breastfeeding, which facilitates bonding as well as providing nutrition and immunity for the newborn.

What medications induce lactation? ›

There are several prescription drugs that have been used to increase milk supply: Metoclopramide (Reglan), Domperidone (Motilium), and sulpiride (Eglonyl, Dolmatil, Sulpitil, Sulparex, Equemote). The presence of an appropriate level of the hormone prolactin permits lactation to proceed normally.

What are the benefits of breastfeeding for husband? ›

Breastfeeding Benefits Your Partner
  • Helping to decrease the blood lost after delivery.
  • Decreasing the risk of certain cancers such as breast cancer.
  • Decreasing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Does induced lactation stop your period? ›

If you are breastfeeding your baby, your periods may not return for several months after childbirth. This is because the hormone that causes you to make milk, prolactin, also stops you from ovulating and having your period. If you are breastfeeding day and night, it can be up to a year before your period returns.

Is it safe to induce lactation while pregnant? ›

Risks to mother and baby

By stimulating their nipples and expressing milk while pregnancy, women could bring on regular contractions of the womb and give birth early. This is because nipple stimulation leads to an increase in the hormone oxytocin, which plays a role in both milk let-down and contraction of the womb.

How much fenugreek do I take to induce lactation? ›

Some of the herbs that may induce lactation include Blessed Thistle herb (recommended 390 mg per capsule) and Fenugreek seed (recommended 610 mg per capsule). The dose used is 3 capsules of each, 3 times a day with meals.

Can you get breast milk back after it dries up? ›

How to re-lactate. Re-lactation is typically achieved through a combination of skin-to-skin contact with the baby and breast stimulation either through a latching baby and/or pumping every two to three hours day and night, which mimics how often a baby feeds.

How late can you Relactate? ›

While there's no real cut off – it's never too late to try relactation – the longer you wait to get started, the harder a time you and your baby will have.

How long does it take to Relactate with a pump? ›

How Long Does It Take to Relactate? Relactation is possible! But it's also time-consuming. If your milk supply is completely dried up, you should plan on at least two weeks of consistent stimulation before you see results and it will take up to 30 days before you'll know what your milk supply will be like.

Can nipples induce lactation? ›

Regular stimulation of the breasts and nipples can also help to produce and maintain milk flow. Some experts suggest pumping both breasts with a hospital-grade electric breast pump every three hours, beginning about two months before you hope to begin breast-feeding.

Does power pumping help induce lactation? ›

Since your baby is feeding more often, your body responds to the demand by naturally increasing your milk supply. Power pumping can produce similar results. The idea is to pump more frequently within a set time frame each day so that your body increases its milk supply naturally.

Why do nipples get so big when breastfeeding? ›

The size of your areolae and nipples may change while you're pregnant or breastfeeding because of the hormones that produce breast milk. They may also grow as your breasts expand with pregnancy weight gain.

Can you produce milk 2 years after stopping breastfeeding? ›

It's not unusual for milky discharge to continue for up to two to three years after discontinuing breastfeeding and it typically affects both breasts.

How do I know if relactation is working? ›

Signs Relactation is Working

Your breasts may feel heavier or fuller, they may tingle, or leak milk. You will also notice the amount that you are pumping is slowly increasing.

Can being induced cause low milk supply? ›

Synthetic oxytocin during birth may interfere with normal oxytocin function (Marasco and West, 2020). Oxytocin affects the let-down reflex (release of milk from the breast) so anything interfering with this could affect milk supply.

Can you induce lactation without pills? ›

Non-pharmacologic methods may involve women inducing lactation via breast stimulation through hand expression, using a breast pump, via direct suckling at the breast, or using a supplemental nursing system.

What are the best supplements to induce lactation? ›

Alfalfa, Milk Thistle, Fennel, Black Seed, and Shatavari Root: Though few studies have been done to prove the effectiveness of these herbs as galactagogues, they have all been traditionally used to increase breast milk supply.

Can I drink my own breast milk if I'm sick? ›

Immune System Booster: If you get sick and drink breast milk, it is believed to boost the immune system and shorten the length and severity of a cold.

Do breasts become bigger after pregnancy? ›

“When you're pregnant, the glandular elements of the breast get considerably larger, so you see an increase in one or two cup sizes,” explained Dr. Kolker. “Postpartum, the breast gland goes back down to the original size or ends up being a little less.

Does breastfeeding feel good? ›

Consequently, while breastfeeding, the mother will experience a sense of well-being and contentment. The consequences of these hormones are that each time a woman breastfeeds, she derives great pleasure from the experience and contact with her baby (Brewster, 1979).

Why do I still have milk in my breast after 4 years? ›

Reasons for lactating when not recently pregnant can range from hormone imbalances to medication side effects to other health conditions. The most common cause of breast milk production is an elevation of a hormone produced in the brain called prolactin. Elevation of prolactin can be caused by: medications.

Can a 65 year old woman produce breast milk? ›

Nutrition experts say breast milk of grandmothers is recommended for babies who cannot be breastfed by their biological mothers for whatever reason, noting that contrary to assumptions, women who are over 60 years can still produce breast milk and effectively breastfeed infants.

How do I become a wet nurse? ›

In order to become a wet nurse, women had to meet a few qualifications, including physical fitness and good moral character; they were often judged on their age, their health, the number of children they had, as well as their breast shape, breast size, breast texture, nipple shape, and nipple size, since all these ...

What are the success rates of inducing lactation? ›

(2015) from the breastfeeding support group, reported that only 47.2% (N = 17) of women were successful in induced lactation process.

Can I make myself lactate? ›

The only necessary component to induce lactation—the official term for making milk without pregnancy and birth—is to stimulate and drain the breasts. That stimulation or emptying can happen with baby breastfeeding, with an electric breast pump, or using a variety of manual techniques.

How long does it take for fenugreek to kick in? ›

Mothers generally notice an increase in production 24-72 hours after starting the herb, but it can take two weeks for others to see a change. Some mothers do not see a change in milk production when taking fenugreek. Dosages of less than 3500 mg per DAY have been reported to produce no effect in many women.

Why do breastfeeding moms avoid fenugreek? ›

Fenugreek may decrease breastmilk supply in some women, according to reports. One low-supply parent went from pumping 4oz a day to just drops after taking fenugreek for several days. It took her a week after stopping fenugreek to regain her supply.

Can you start lactating if you haven't had a baby? ›

Hormones signal the mammary glands in your body to start producing milk to feed the baby. But it's also possible for women who have never been pregnant — and even men — to lactate. This is called galactorrhea, and it can happen for a variety of reasons.

Is it OK for someone else to breastfeed your baby? ›

The AAP does not encourage using informally shared breast milk, citing the risks of spreading disease. It can also expose an infant to medications, alcohol, drugs, or other contaminants.

What medication is used for Relactation? ›

The two most common medications used to augment milk synthesisare Metaclopramide (Reglan) and Domperidone. Both are anti-nausea medicines which increase prolactin production.

How do you Relactate after years? ›

Relactation doesn't happen overnight. You'll need to stimulate your breasts for 10 to 15 minutes on each side at least eight to 10 times every day. At least one of these sessions should be done at night or early morning when prolactin, the hormone that helps with milk production, is at its highest.

Can you Relactate if you didn't breastfeed? ›

The good news is relactation is possible. It requires time, patience, determination and a cooperative baby! Whether you stopped breastfeeding due a medical procedure, separation from baby, or simply bad advice, many individuals find they can rebuild a milk supply successfully.

Can breast milk come back after drying up? ›

It's called re-lactation. It's possible for the female body to come back from “drying up” and produce milk again. In fact, many mothers of adopted children are able to pump and use several methods in order to stimulate their bodies to produce milk, even if they haven't given birth!

Can you produce milk after not breastfeeding for a while? ›

Some parents impacted by the baby formula shortage may be wondering if they can start breastfeeding again. A process known as re-lactation can help patients produce breast milk, even if it has been weeks or months since they did so.

Is it okay for my wife to breastfeed me? ›

Generally speaking, breastfeeding your husband or partner is OK. It's not perverted or wrong if you want the person you are intimate with to breastfeed, or if they ask to try breastfeeding or taste your breast milk.

Do wet nurses still exist? ›

However, the concept of wet nursing still exists today and is known as co-feeding or milk-sharing. The term clearly defines an activity of sharing mother's milk or the sharing of expressed breast milk [1].

How long can a woman be a wet nurse? ›

Normally, without suckling, milk production ceases 14 to 21 days after birth. PRL- mediated milk production and secretion, however, may continue as long as the breasts are stimulated, as evidenced by the ability of wet-nursing for many years (16).

Which pump is best for relactation? ›

Pumping for Relactation

A double electric pump is your best option for maximizing your time. Not only does it stimulate both breasts to produce milk, but pumping both breasts at once supports higher prolactin levels, more letdowns, and fattier milk content.

Can pumping help Relactate? ›

And the single most effective thing for you to do if you want to relactate is to breastfeed or pump as frequently as possible. Any stimulation of the breast — whether milk is coming out at first or not — will tell your body to produce more milk.

How long should I pump for relactation? ›

From Tips for Relactation by Phillipa Pearson-Glaze: Pump or hand express at least eight to twelve times per day for 20-30 minutes so that you're pumping every two to three hours during the day and once or twice at night. The more often you can express, the quicker your milk supply will respond.

How late is too late Relactate? ›

While there's no real cut off – it's never too late to try relactation – the longer you wait to get started, the harder a time you and your baby will have.

How successful is relactation? ›

The amount of time it takes to relactate is about equal to how long it has been since breastfeeding stopped. About half of the women who sucessfully relactated had a full milk supply within a month.

Can a 70 year old woman lactate? ›

Nutrition experts say breast milk of grandmothers is recommended for babies who cannot be breastfed by their biological mothers for whatever reason, noting that contrary to assumptions, women who are over 60 years can still produce breast milk and effectively breastfeed infants.


(Derek and Liza)
2. I'm adopting a child. Is it possible to induce lactation?
3. INDUCED LACTATION - adoptive breastfeeding update
4. Relactation and induced lactation | Breastfeeding
(Sikana English)
5. Facts about Induced Lactation - Exclusive On BabyChakra App - Doctor Manisha Gogri
6. Breastfeeding my Adopted Baby \\ Yes, you CAN do it!
(Angela Braniff)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Carmelo Roob

Last Updated: 04/01/2023

Views: 5515

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (65 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Carmelo Roob

Birthday: 1995-01-09

Address: Apt. 915 481 Sipes Cliff, New Gonzalobury, CO 80176

Phone: +6773780339780

Job: Sales Executive

Hobby: Gaming, Jogging, Rugby, Video gaming, Handball, Ice skating, Web surfing

Introduction: My name is Carmelo Roob, I am a modern, handsome, delightful, comfortable, attractive, vast, good person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.