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Whether you choose to nurse or not, you deserve support. Breastfeeding is a personal choice, and every mother's breastfeeding journey looks different. One truth about breastfeeding (which can come as a surprise to some women) is that it's not all-or-nothing—women can breastfeed exclusively, not at all, or part-time with supplementation from pumped milk, formula or other food.

And that versatility extends to breastfeeding after weaning, adoption or surrogacy. Inducing lactation is the process by which a woman can breastfeed after adoption or surrogacy. Relactation is the process by which a woman can jump-start nursing after not breastfeeding for a length of time.

When a woman is pregnant, she begins a process called lactogenesis in which her body prepares itself to start making milk. This usually starts around the twenty-week mark of pregnancy (halfway through). Then, when the baby is born, the second phase of lactogenesis occurs, and milk actually starts to fill the breasts.



All of this occurs in response to hormones. When women do not carry a pregnancy, but wish to breastfeed, they can induce lactation, where they replicate the same hormonal process that happens during pregnancy.

A woman who wants to induce lactation can work with a doctor or midwife, and start taking the hormones estrogen and progesterone (which grow breast tissue)—often in the form of birth control pills—along with a medication called domperidone (which increases milk production).

Several weeks before the baby will be born, the woman stops taking the birth control pill but continues to take the domperidone to simulate the hormonal changes that would happen in a pregnancy. She'll also start pumping multiple times per day, and will likely add herbal supplements, like fenugreek and blessed thistle.

Women can also try to induce lactation without the hormones by using pumping and herbs—it may be harder, but some women feel more comfortable with that route.

La Leche League International suggests this method for restarting breast milk production after stopping breastfeeding, noting that you should consult with a lactation expert for help, especially before using any herbs or supplements to stimulate milk production.

  • Hand express or pump at least eight to twelve times per day for 20-30 minutes, including at night
  • Give pumped milk along with formula in a cup (rather than a bottle), or use an at-breast supplementer
  • If baby will latch on, put them to your breast before and after each feeding
  • Put baby to your breast for comfort between feedings as often as possible instead of using a pacifier to help build your supply

Inducing lactation takes a lot of dedication—but then again, so does everything related to being a mama. It's a super personal decision, and not right for everyone.

The important thing to remember is that we need to support women and mothers through their entire journey, no matter what decisions they make about themselves and their families.

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Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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