Breastfeeding Without Birth – Is It Possible?

The Next Family

By Wendy Wright– IBCLC Co-Founder and Lactation Consultant of the 16 Minute Club

can you nurse a baby if you aren't pregnant

Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience for both mom and baby. However, what is a new mom to do when she receives the blessing of a baby but never went through the pregnancy and birth process herself? Induced lactation is still an option for women who become moms through adoption or surrogacy, or for moms who wish to share breastfeeding with their partner.

Can Moms Make Milk Without Birth?

Hormones play a huge role in the production of milk. Naturally, milk production will be stronger following a pregnancy. However, induced lactation can happen in a few different ways without pregnancy.

If you know that you have several months before the baby will be in your custody, you can visit your doctor to talk about hormone therapy. The doctor will prescribe you hormones that makes your body think you are pregnant, and then you will be taken off the hormones a month or two before your baby is to arrive. At this time, you will establish your milk supply through constant pumping, until you can develop a latch with the baby.

For moms who don’t have a lot of time, hormone therapy is not always an option. In this case, your doctor can prescribe you medication to help you lactate. Then you would develop your milk supply with the help of a pump until you can develop a latch.

Finally, there is a way to induce lactation without any drugs. The most important thing is constant nipple stimulation.

Will I Produce Enough Milk?

It is hard to determine how much milk you will make. It is important to focus on all the benefits of breastfeeding- not just the milk. Even if you do not produce any milk, dry nursing or comfort nursing, can help you bond with your baby. The skin to skin contact will also benefit your baby’s health and immune system. Any amount of milk you make will be beneficial. There is a good chance you will have to supplement with donated milk or formula, especially in the first few weeks while your milk supply is established. A sign of a well-established milk supply is if your baby is gaining weight steadily.

Can I Breastfeed if I’m Not Fertile or Have Never Been Pregnant?

Yes! Even women without ovaries are able to breastfeed. If you have been pregnant or breastfed in the past, your milk supply will come in a lot quicker. Don’t be discouraged if you have never been pregnant or if you are considered infertile. Induced lactation is still an option for you.

Inducing lactation requires a lot of work and patience, but it can be and has been successfully done by thousands of mothers around the world. Connect with a good support group and find a lactation consultant with experience in induced lactation.

Wendy Wright is a lactation consultant for The 16 Minute Club– the one-and-only breastfeeding subscription box designed and curated by a lactation consultant.  They are focused on helping new nursing mothers meet their breastfeeding goals, providing tons of relevant information based on baby’s developmental stage and offering a selection of age-appropriate tools and treats to get families through potential breastfeeding obstacles that can occur along the way. 

Photo credit: Lisa Rosario

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