If you are serious about inducing lactation in yourself, you are probably like me and you dream of your milk flowing freely from breast to waiting mouth, but let’s step back a minute and be open here.
Inducing lactation is definitely more of a marathon than a sprint.
Lactation normally requires the whole nine months from conception of a baby to birth. Then after the massive change in hormones of the birthing process the mother’s colostrum and milk finally come in to feed the baby.
The human body really is a wonderful thing.
For the most part, the processes within our body are fully automated. Other than eating food, drinking water, and expelling said wastes, our bodies could take care of themselves just by what goes on inside of us.
Due to different biological factors, over time humans as a species have changed and adapted to the Earth, and sometimes our bodies don’t respond quite the way we want them to. Take for instance, some people have to take insulin to survive and for them, that’s life. For others, medications for heart problems have become the norm. Many people also take prescriptions for different mental health concerns like anxiety or depression. This becomes normal to them.
For inducing lactation, taking pills regularly and pumping consistently becomes a way of life. Unfortunately for us, in order to make our bodies make milk, we have to supply it several ways to either receive or create these different hormones that produce milk that our bodies would not otherwise.
1. Gather Your Materials
- Herbs – Goats Rue, Blessed Thistle, Torbangun, Moringa, alfalfa, Fenugreek
There are several different herbs that have been used and tested throughout time to help women produce milk. Of the main herbs that get listed most often, I have found the three herbs Goats Rue, Blessed Thistle, and Torbangun to help me the most. At the bottom of this post I have listed the resources I used to put this post together, as well as Amazon links to some herbal products.
Goats Rue is an herb that I take in capsule form 2-4 times a day. This herb helps the breasts’ mammary tissue get larger and prepare for milk to come in. Goat’s Rue is historically a substance with blood glucose-lowering activity and the foundation for the discovery of metformin, a treatment for managing symptoms of diabetes mellitus. You can find liquid Goat's Rue here.
Blessed thistle is a great herb that I take in capsule form 3-4 times a day. I feel this herb has greatly helped me produce more milk. Blessed thistle can be found in our liquid lactation support supplement.
Torbangun is a new (to me) herb that I’ve found to help induce lactation and is far superior to Fenugreek. I am currently trying different Torbangun extracts from Etsy, as well as loose herb for teas.
You can find many of these herbs in our Lactation Aids.
You will need a pump. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter what you start out with if you’re just trying to figure out if you want to continue down the road of induced lactation. I started out with a $5 single manual breast pump that I got from a yard sale back in 2009. I discovered a lot about my body by using that bad boy.
You can find some of our awesome pumps and milking machines here!
- Nursing Bras
The best affordable and quality nursing bras I can find are from Walmart: Loving Moments by Leading Lady. I can usually find the 2 packs for $18. I use nursing bras instead of pumping bras simply because they’re cheaper, and, I feel, much more comfortable. You can easily hook the pump right through the opening to hold in place while you do other things.
…like writing a blog.
- Water bottles
You will be drinking a lot of water. I mean, A LOT of water. Keep those gallon jugs of water near you at all times. Bonus points if it has the hour markers telling you when to drink and how much.
Now double that. Yeah. That’s a lot of water, but you want all that water to be turning into milk.
- Milk bottles/bags (optional)
This isn’t necessary if you don’t plan on storing or keeping your milk. At first you won’t even need any milk containers, at least until your milk starts fully coming in. Once your breasts have finally started producing milk at a steady enough rate to cover the bottom of a bottle, I recommend only then starting to think about purchasing bottles, if you plan to keep your milk.
Bullet journaling has been a life changing experience for me, and even those who use regular dated journals will benefit from tracking anything you want to know about your lactation journey.
You can track when you take your medication, when or how much water you drink, when you pump, foods or drinks you had that day, or how much milk you produce. As well as a slew of other information you could potentially track for your journey, journaling is a great form of expression that helps you figure out trends.
I design journal pages specifically for people who don’t want to keep drawing the same pages in their journals day after day. It gets tiring! I know! I used to spend hours drawing the same graphs in my books week after week and finally I said ENOUGH! I design the pages on my Etsy page to be printed out double-sided in bulk and stapled together like a book.
Plan to buy a pump. Like I said earlier, you will eventually need a pump because you are basically going to be living next to this thing for the next few months.
If you choose to only manually compress or use self-suckling, or having a partner to suckle for you, this will become tedious, especially if you choose to do early morning feedings and your partner doesn’t want to wake up enough to latch correctly. Believe me. Just buy the pump.
As well as pumping, there is also TENS (Transcutaneous Electro Nerve Stimulation) which can stimulate your breasts and nipples during the times you absolutely cannot pump but would still like to receive the stimulation like you are being pumped. This can be very distracting if you’re working, but sometimes it’s the only way to get the stimulation you need to produce milk.
You can find a good starter TENS unit here. I have tried many very cheap setups and I found that they all seem to work in the same way. A tiny electrical impulse goes through the pad and into your breast, stimulating the skin and nerves as if you were squeezing them yourself. This is very handy to use during work or travel when you don’t have access to a pump.
This method does not remove the milk, so it is key to pump as soon as you are able.
- Lots of water.
Like an absurd amount of water, and then a little more. Like, so much water that the kitchen faucet and the toilet are about to become your best friends.
Okay maybe not that much. But according to the U.S. News and World Report a person should be drinking half their weight (in pounds) in ounces.
So if you weigh 200 lbs, then you should be drinking 100 oz of water per day.
I keep track of how much water I drink and I keep my water bottle by my desk all day. As soon as I finish whatever I’m drinking, whether it be tea or coffee or a Bubly (sparkling water) , it goes straight to the tracker before I get the next drink.
I don’t count anything but straight plain water toward my daily water goal so that I know I’m hydrated.
- Torbangun tea
This tea reminds me a lot of strong green tea mixed with Matcha. You can find loose Torbangun on some herbal sites. I get mine mostly through Etsy. I will usually drink at least one cup of tea, and then I will take my Torbangun extract later in the day.
- Fenugreek tea or other Lactation Teas
- Lactation Smoothies
You can make smoothies that contain fenugreek, fennel seed, Flax seed, alfalfa, spinach, hemp hearts, or Chia seed. Blend these with any number of fruits and cream to make a delicious lactation smoothie.
- (X) Alcohol
Try to not drink alcohol as it is dehydrating. This is of course just a suggestion, as I assume you are an adult with a mind and body of your own. However, I highly recommend not drinking alcohol so that your body can commit fully to producing milk.
Eat regular meals so that your body can convert those calories into nutrient dense milk. The following foods have been shown to help lactation:
- Hemp hearts
- Chia seed
- There are many recipes for lactation cookies. Some taste better than others, and I experiment with all types of ingredients in mine. Most contain peanut butter so if you’re allergic to peanuts, I recommend almond butter as a substitute.
While inducing lactation, it is most important to learn how to RELAX. Lactation is a journey that you are choosing to undertake. No one is making you produce milk.
Please be patient and kind with yourself. Inducing lactation really is a marathon and not a sprint. You do not win any special prizes by getting your milk in under a certain time. And every body works differently.
I hope this has been enlightening for you as it has been for me. Writing out these “rules” have helped solidify what Inducing Lactation means for myself, and I hope it helps anyone else hoping to undertake the Lactation Journey.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please leave them on this page, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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