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I"m adopting a newborn, and I"d prefer to breastfeed the baby once I carry him home. Can I create breast milk if i haven"t been pregnant?

Answer native Melissa A. Kurke, R.N., I.B.C.L.C.

With substantial dedication and also preparation, breastfeeding without pregnant (induced lactation) might be possible.

Normally, the herbal production of breast milk (lactation) is motivated by a facility interaction between three hormone — estrogen, progesterone and also human placental lactogen — during the last months of pregnancy. In ~ delivery, level of estrogen and progesterone fall, permitting the hormone prolactin to increase and initiate milk production.


Induced lactation counts on the successful replication the this process. If you have months come prepare, your health care provider can prescribe hormone therapy — such as supplemental estrogen or progesterone — come mimic the results of pregnancy. Hormone therapy may last because that months.

About 2 months prior to you suppose to start breastfeeding, you"ll likely stop hormone therapy and also begin pumping her breasts v a hospital-grade electric breast pump. This urges the production and release of prolactin. In ~ first, pump for five minutes three times a day. Occupational up to pumping because that 10 minute every 4 hours, including at the very least once throughout the night. Then rise pumping time come 15 to 20 minute every 2 to 3 hours. Continue the regime until the infant arrives.

If you have a brief time to prepare, hormone therapy might not it is in an option. Her health treatment provider might recommend other medications to help induce lactation. Pumping remains vital for whatever time you have.

When you start to breastfeed the baby, her health treatment provider can recommend ongoing pumping — including after feedings — to assist establish your milk supply. And even if you"re able to successfully induce lactation, supplemental feedings through formula or pasteurized donor person milk could be essential — especially throughout the initial mainly of breastfeeding. To encourage ongoing nipple and breast stimulation, you can use a supplemental feeding assist that delivers donor chest milk or formula v a device that attaches to your breast. Supplemental feedings can likewise be given with a bottle. To defend your milk supply, pump each time your baby receives a bottle-feeding.

To learn more about induced lactation and also how to boost your chances of developing breastfeeding, call a lactation consultant at a regional hospital or clinic.

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Melissa A. Kurke, R.N., I.B.C.L.C.


July 07, 2021
Show references
Lawrence RA, et al. Induced lactation and relactation (including nursing an adopted baby) and also cross-nursing. In: Breastfeeding: A overview for the clinical Profession. 8th ed. Elsevier: 2016. Https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed may 20, 2021. Wambach K, et al., eds. Women"s health throughout the childbearing years. In: Breastfeeding and Human Lactation. 5th ed. Jones and also Bartlett Learning; 2016. Campbell SH, et al., eds. Induced lactation and also relactation. In: core Curriculum because that Interdisciplinary Lactation Care. Jones and also Bartlett Publishers; 2019.Kurke MA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. May 20, 2021.
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