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How to induce lactation

Lactation and a mother’s skill in inducing it at will is a crucial part of motherhood for those who want to breastfeed. It refers to the process in which a woman’s mammary glands produce milk which is secreted from the nipples of her breasts for an infant. It is the body’s natural response to being pregnant even if you choose not to breastfeed. It is incredibly healthy for developing babies and full of many essential nutrients. This milk will serve as a primary food source for the newborn baby for the next several months while the baby transitions onto other foods. This is something that happens in all mammals -humans included. Many mothers report that they thoroughly enjoy the experience as it is a natural way for them to bond with the baby.

Today’s article looks at how a mother can induce lactation even when the baby isn’t actively feeding and why being able to do this is so handy.

What is induced lactation

Normally, women only produce milk for a certain duration after they give birth and the milk is usually collected orally by the baby. However, there are a number of circumstances where one would want to induce lactation at will. Induced lactation refers to the process where you are able to encourage your body to produce breast milk even if they were not just pregnant. In fact, those who have never carried a baby can even produce breast milk.

Inducing lactation is essentially encouraging the milk out of the breast.


Who would want to induce lactation


There are a number of people who may be interested in this process. Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing, and often birth mothers are not the only ones who want to experience this. A number of people may be interested in the process for different reasons. However, the most obvious people who’d want to learn how to induce lactation is the mother and father.

People who know the birth mother who may want to help alleviate some of the pressures or experience it for themselves by harvesting the milk in the baby bottle and giving the mother some rest.

It is also interesting for those mothers who didn’t carry the child themselves as well as wet nurses who breastfeed for long periods of time.

4 key Benefits of inducing lactation

1. Takes the pressure off mom

This is the biggest benefits of induced lactation by far. A baby needs food and if you decide that you want your baby to solely drink breast milk then it can make the mom tired and in demand all of the time. When it fully on one person to provide all the food for the baby, it can be quite stressful. It is a very big responsibility for the mother. Inducing lactation and bottling it can help the mother get some much-deserved rest while giving the baby the good stuff he or she is used to.

2. Gives your breasts a rest

Breastfeeding is a great experience, but that can really hurt. Sometimes, you need to give your breasts a break. Even if a baby doesn’t have teeth, breastfeeding too much can take a toll on your breasts physically and make them sore. Some women have more problems than others and if you need a rest, this could be a great idea.

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3. Good options for moms who struggle to breastfeed

Not everyone is able to breastfeed or produce enough breast milk to feed a baby. While there is nothing wrong with choosing formula, those that would prefer that their baby solely drink breast milk may prefer finding someone who could induce lactation. It is a safe and natural way for you to get that supply of breast milk. Learning how to induce lactation can also mean that you may be able to get a close friend or family member do this for you so you know where it is coming from.

4. Helps the baby bond with a mother figure who did not give birth

Breastfeeding is a beautiful activity that encourages bonding and many mothers want to participate in. This can be an especially amazing option for same-sex or adoptive mothers to experience this.


How to induce lactation naturally

Lactation is a process that occurs when the body identifies itself as pregnant and needing to breastfeed. One way that you are able to do this is via nipple stimulation. You can do this without needing any kind of special equipment or medication. This can take months to do and often involves a lot of patience and plenty of practice -especially for those who have never carried a child. It requires you to stimulate your areola and nipples regularly over a certain time period. Eventually, your body will recognize that you are trying to breastfeed and begin producing milk.

There are a number of things you can do in order to speed up the process. For one thing, you can try massaging in several different directions. Try up and down motions or to rub your areola/ nipple area in small circles. Try to do it nice and slow and keep in mind that you try to do it with the speed and pressure you would expect a suckling infant. You should do this for at least 20 minutes a day about 8 times a day. If you are able to and have nursing partners (or an infant), dry breastfeeding for this time may also encourage the breast milk to be induced faster. This will often give a much more desired result than basic finger stimulation.

Some things to keep in mind are that you should always use a lubricant in order to prevent cracking and discomfort of the nipples. If possible, try to have both nipples stimulated at the same time. Depending on your body, this process may take anywhere between a few weeks and a couple of months, so it will require a lot of patience. Try not to give up!

Once the stimulation is successful and you start producing milk, you need to keep the process up. Milk production will be gradually producing milk and as you continue you will produce a steady supply. You mil supply will also change in quality, volume and appearance over time.

How to induce lactation with a pump

If you are willing to spend a little extra money it may be a great idea to invest in a lactation pump. Breast pumps work the same way that finger and dry breastfeeding stimulation work. They require that you use a small machine that will suck on your nipple and stimulate your breasts in order to mimic a baby suckling.

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In order to use one of these, you will need to find the right size for you. Selecting the right breast shield is the first step in order to find one perfect for you so that you can reduce irritation. Larger levels of pumping will induce better -but it is wise to not overdo it. If you feel any pain, it would be wise for you to stop immediately. Find the proper level for you.

Double pumping will also cut the time in half. If you find that you are having difficulties, it can be a great idea to maybe just do one breast at a time and switch back and forth between the two. While using a pump often means that you will be able to get the milk flowing faster, it is still a process that can take quite a long time -especially for those who have never been pregnant or have breastfed before.

Inducing milk without medical intervention always takes some time, and this means that even with the pump, you should expect this to take a couple of weeks or months depending on your body.

While it may be a little scary or foreign to try to use a machine instead of other methods, it is important that you learn to relax. You need to relax and not be so tense to really be able to make the milk flow properly. If you need any advice on which brand to use, you can always consult with a medical care physician.

Keep at it and you will soon reap the rewards of induced lactation.

Breastfeeding Content Hub

This article is part of our breastfeeding hub, here are some other articles related to breastfeeding which you may find helpful:

Are there supplements available for inducing lactation

If all else fails, there are some supplements you can take.

They work in a way similar to natural stimulation where it tricks your body into thinking that you are pregnant. They result in a rise hormone levels that are mimics when you are carrying a child. Using herbal supplements results in relatively less physical side effects and is generally a great idea for someone who is experiencing a lot of negative side effects from medications such as intestinal problems. This doesn’t mean that you won’t experience any undesired side effects and for that reason, you should always talk to your doctor or a breastfeeding councillor to get their ok, even for herbal products that you are able to purchase over the counter.

While effects should not be expected to take place immediately, they can be expected to take place much sooner than natural stimulation methods as it targets your body chemically directly. Of course, while it is often effective to encourage breast flow it is not the only or the most effective option.

Medications have the highest rate of success, however, they are considered relatively far from natural. They directly change your hormone levels by giving you a dose of hormones much in the way birth control would work. These direct doses lead to incredibly fast milk flow and will often take no more than a couple of weeks at best. Although you get a much higher rate of success this comes with a little more risks as you induce the process. There are a number of side effects that you may experience from artificially altering your hormone levels so quickly.

These require prescriptions and thus consultations from your doctor exclusively. Many would argue you try to use other methods and come to this when all others fail or you need to induce lactation very quickly. A good alternative is a self-help book.


Overall, inducing lactation can be a great option for many women. There are many ways that you can do this -both naturally, with a pump and with the help of medication- and there is one out there for you. It is the perfect opportunity to give the wonderful experience of breastfeeding to more than just the birth mothers. This can be a life-changing process that can get others closer to the experience of carrying the child as well as takes some of the stress away from mom. Of course, your primary care physician will be able to help you in with any problems you may have.