Introduced into the world by their moms, infants feel secure and safe resting in their mother’s lap suckling the breast milk and going to sleep. While we serious can’t know what these babies think after being inside their mother’s womb for more than nine months, we do know one thing- Nothing can beat the warmth of a mother’s touch. But with rising infertility rates and other problems the number of surrogate mothers is also on the rise. Does this mean that the infant born through surrogate pregnancy is deprived of the advantages of breast feeding some of which include improved immunity, better cognitive skills and protection against infections? Beyond all these advantages the infant also is at a risk of missing out on close skin and eye contact with its mother-the basis for a strong and undeterred mother-child relationship. But now all this agony and misery is put to an end with induced lactation.
Lactation: A Different Ball Game Indeed
The woman’s body undergoes different hormonal changes during pregnancy to prepare itself for delivery. Breast feeding too is linked hormonally and the breast is prepared by estrogen and progesterone for lactation soon after pregnancy. Induced lactation is the process by which a non-puerperal woman is stimulated to lactate. The non-puerperal woman in discussion here might be a mother who had chosen surrogacy for her child’s birth, women who have a same-sex relationship or those who have adopted new-born babies too. This concept was initially introduced to nourish infants whose mothers had died after delivery or were unable to breastfeed.
Generally, breastmilk production is initiated in this process-estrogen and progesterone stimulate proliferation of the alveolar and ductal systems all through pregnancy increasing prolactin production. Soon after delivery, estrogen and progesterone levels fall and prolactin initiates milk production. Induced lactation works by replicating the same process in the interested woman. Starting induced breastfeeding depends on how much time the woman has before the actual process starts. If the entire process is planned and the mother knows that she needs induced breastfeeding then there are months to go before the arrival of the baby. In this time the physician might suggest hormone therapy in the form of supplemental estrogen and progesterone to recreate the same process that would happen in a pregnant lady. Just two months before the baby’s arrival hormone therapy is stopped and the lady is requested to express breast milk as this helps in the production of prolactin. Start slowly maybe for five minutes thrice a day and increase the duration and the frequency gradually summing to pumping for 15-20 minutes every three hours or so. But hormone therapy works only when there is sufficient time before the baby’s arrival. Else the physician suggests medications to induce lactation. Whatever might be the method of lactation pumping milk remains essential as this helps in maintaining continuous milk supply.
Expressing milk is the best way to induce more milk production. Starting the process at least two months in prior to the baby’s arrival is recommended. Generally, the baby feeds at least for 7-10 times daily and if you plan to satisfy your baby’s needs solely relying on breast milk you need to work hard towards it-expressing milk as often as possible (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2019/jun/24/induced-lactation-why-a-woman-doesnt-need-to-bear-a-child-in-order-to-breastfeed-it). And I would like to remind you that every effort taken is worth and you would surely bring on a smile onto your face when you feel your little one’s body wrapped closely to your chest, his/her skin warmly against yours tucking your fingers and sucking your nipples deep in slumber. These occasions and memories are irreversible, to be enjoyed at the spur of the moment and relished forever in life.
Transgender Woman Breast-feeds Baby After Hospital Induces Lactation: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/15/health/transgender-woman-breast-feed.html
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.