How to Induce Lactation?

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Breast milk is the most important nutrition for all newborns. It plays a vital role in building  the baby's immunity and protects against disease. Some mothers try to avoid breastfeeding due to health reasons or other work related reasons. The breast milk dries up faster if not used within the first few weeks post delivery. 


What is in Breast Milk? 

Breast milk is considered to be the best source of nutrition for a newborn baby. Breast milk is made up of enriching elements like fats, vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates. Live cells-leucocytes are found only in breast milk. These live cells enhance the immune system of the child. Various antibodies,  enzymes, hormones and living cells present in breast milk makes it the healthiest food-drink which cannot be reproduced artificially by any formulae.     



What is the Correlation between Lactation and the Mammary Gland?

Mammary glands are controlled by the central nervous system, especially by the subconscious part of our brain. If the brain perceives nipple and areola stimulation to be sexual, it creates a pleasurable sensation. Moreover, when the brain perceives nipple and areola stimulation for milk production, it stimulates the mammary glands to lactate. As long as the brain continues to send electrical signals to the mammary glands, it will produce milk for the baby or infant.



Why do people Induce Lactation?

Some mothers induce lactation for a number of reasons. Often, they want to breastfeed their premature babies or adopted infants. Besides, they can induce lactation through hormone therapy, if the body's natural lactation doesn’t start. Induced lactation can help to stimulate and maintain your milk supply. There are different ways to induce lactation. 



How to Induce Lactation?

When a woman becomes pregnant, her breasts start to produce milk due to presence of hormones such as prolactin, estrogen, and progesterone. Breast size enlarges due to the development of milk ducts. When the baby is finally born, the level of progesterone and estrogen decreases and prolactin increases. This induces lactation. However, any normal woman (who is not pregnant) can secrete prolactin if her  nipples are stimulated for milk. When breasts are stimulated, a signal is transmitted to the the brain for releasing oxytocin which plays a key role in initiating milk ejection. This condition is also known as "let down reflex". The procedure for inducing lactation is very simple. But one requires a lot of patience. This technique involves non-sexual stimulation of nipples and areola. The drug domperidone is also used to induce lactation. Some herbs such as blessed thistle, fenugreek, and red raspberry leaf help in milk production. Many doctors advice "dry breastfeeding" for 15-20 minutes (minimum, 8 times per day). The partner should not only suck the nipples but also latch onto the breast. Nursing partner should strongly imagine that she is feeding an infant or young child with her breast milk. It will send signal to the brain and breasts will start producing milk. Many women induce lactation using a breast pump initially. Once the milk is produced, they switch over to the infant.



What are the precautions to take while trying to Induce Lactation?

Nursing partner should lubricate the areola and nipples to prevent chafing. Saliva can be used as a lubricant during manual stimulation. Many women use topical lubricant or petroleum jelly to prevent blisters and chafing. Several OTC drugs are available for lubrication. Some people use contraceptives to fool the body into thinking it is pregnant. Although this is an effective method, there are many side-effects. One must check with their doctor before beginning any medication.

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