February 6, 2015
I can't remember how I heard about inducing lactation, but I always knew it was an option. Once Becky got pregnant I started researching it. There is very little information out there so I thought I would share what I did. Many people were shocked that this was even a possibility.
From my research I found it's very rare that a woman make nothing, but just as rare that she get a full supply. I joined an "Induced Lactation" group on facebook and it seemed most women, at the peak of the protocol, were getting 4-8oz a day. It's amazing in once sense a body can do that without giving birth, but somewhat discouraging in the other sense considering my boys would be consuming about 24 oz a day EACH. My prayer was that I would produce at least 8 so I could give them each 1 four oz bottle a day (I have heard that to benefit from breast milk a baby just needs a minimum of 3 oz a day).
Obviously since I had lost my twins before so late in the game, I refused to do anything about inducing till we hit 24 weeks. Everything I read pointed to the sooner you start the better and many women were starting the protocol once their carrier got pregnant, but my heart couldn't handle the thought of having my milk come in again with no child to feed.
I did find that a woman will have better luck in inducing lactation if: A. she has nursed a child before and B. she has had a pregnancy last over 12 weeks. When I had my first miscarriage at just 6 weeks, I had a minor milk supply come in about a week later. When I lost Jude at 21 weeks, I was full blown engorged and leaked for several weeks, but never expressed since I wanted to dry it up ASAP. Although my milk coming in after Jude felt cruel and horrific, the silver lining was it meant I had a better chance of being able to give something to my sons.
So, back to the protocol. This is CRAZY but birth control pills actually make your body thinks it's pregnant!?! So, first step was to be on birth control for as long as possible (this is where the sooner the better thing kicks in, they prefer you be on the pill closer to 9 months). I started the BCP at 24 weeks. The 2nd drug involved is called Reglan or domperidone.
Reglan and domperidone are actually for people that suffer from stomach issues but they found that it does something to the brain to trigger lactation. Domperidone is not legal in the United States and very few OBs will write prescriptions for it. However, after researching, most women (and lactation coaches) suggest using Domperidone. It's literally legal in every other country so there are several trusted sites on where to order it from. I didn't want to mess with it though so I used Reglan to start out. Here is what I did:
- At 24 weeks started daily birth control pills
- At 24 weeks started taking Reglan 3x a day
- At 24 weeks started dry pumping 6-8 times a day (or ever 2-4 hours). I did not get milk from pumping, the idea is the pumping helps prepare your body/develop the needed tissues to lactate-based on this protocol, one would not lactate till "delivery" aka stopping birth control.
- At 24 weeks started taking Fenugreek (a herb that is supposed to help increase lactation)
- At 30 weeks started taking "Lactation Blend" off Amazon (recommend by lactation coach).
- At 33 weeks (2 weeks before they were born) I stopped the BCP. This made my body think I had just given birth.
The lactation coach suggested I stop taking the birth control pill 4 weeks prior to the scheduled C-section. Once I stopped I started getting droplets that equaled about 1 oz a day. I continued the protocol and the boys came about 2 weeks later. At this point I was making 6 oz a day and was able to immediately put them to breast after birth and they actually got some of my own milk! For the first few days since they don't eat a ton, I was able to fully supply them with what I was producing (and Becky pumped colostrum for them). By day 3 or 4 the twins already needed more than my 6oz so we used donor milk.
I was told to keep putting the babies to breast, skin to skin and that my supply would increase. It eventually went to about 16 oz a day and at that point I made the switch to domperidone and it jumped to over 24+ oz a day (what I produce now). Reglan is the only legal drug to induce lactation but there are some scary possible long-term side effects. I have a fully supply for 1 child, so my boys get about 40-50% breast milk. I pump every 3-4 hours and 1 longer stretch at night and bottle feed them.
Oddly enough I rarely breastfeed them. I like to pump and put it in a bottle to know exactly how much they are getting and to divide it equally. I thought breastfeeding would be this intense bonding but personally I'm more passionate about providing my sons with the benefits of breast milk. With twins nursing can be insanely time consuming. I do nurse from time to time for comfort/soothing or if one seems very hungry before the scheduled feeding and it is cool. I wasn't able to carry my sons so being able to provide for them in this way has been very satisfying. It's something my body can actually do right for them and I'm so grateful.