In this podcast, we catch up with Alyssa Schnell, co-host of the Breastfeeding Outside the Box podcast and author of Breastfeeding Without Birthing. We heard a bit about Alyssa's personal story in episode #2. Now we connect with Alyssa professionally as she shares some of her expertise on breastfeeding-without-birthing ... or breastfeeding in situations of adoption, surrogacy, foster care, co-nursing, relactation, and more.
Listen to Alyssa's interview here:
What is Breastfeeding Without Birthing?
Usually breastfeeding begins just after a woman has given birth. The hormones of the pregnancy and the hormonal shift resulting from the delivery of the placenta drive the start of milk production. But what happens when a parent interested in nursing hasn't given birth, or at least hasn't given birth within the last few hours or days? Lactation, or making milk, is still possible without birth.
(Nursing without making any milk is another possibility. We will get to this more in a future episode!)
How Can Someone Begin Making Milk Without Birthing First?
Essentially the way to induce milk production is frequent stimulation of the nipples/breasts. Frequent means as often as a baby would nurse - ideally at least 8 times per day. This can be done by a combination of breast massage, nipple manipulation, partner suckling, and possibly some hand expression or pumping. If baby has arrived, then nursing the baby (particularly with an at-breast supplementer) is the best way to get things started!
And the way to grow milk production once it begins to come in is frequent emptying of the breasts, even if that emptying is just a few drops or a spray or two. This can be done primarily by hand expression, pumping, or nursing (particularly with an at-breast supplementer).
Are Medications Needed to Bring in Milk Production?
No, medications are not necessary to bring in milk. However, the use of medications or herbs can help the milk come in more quickly and more abundantly.
Medications can sometimes be used without stimulation of the nipples/breasts to cause milk production to begin. And again, the start of milk production when a parent induces lactation is merely drops, or a glisten on the nipple. But medications alone cannot grow a milk production beyond that. What is needed to grow a milk production is frequent emptying of the breasts as described above. That said, adding on some herbs and/or medications (usually domperidone) can really help things along.
Working with a health care practitioner, such as an IBCLC, ob/gyn, herbalist, or your primary HCP is important is helping you to determine which medications and/or herbs are appropriate. Yes, a health care practitioner should even be consulted when taking herbs - not all herbs are right for every parent in every situation.
Alyssa has been helping parents and babies with breastfeeding since 2002 and she has been accredited as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) since 2009. Her private practice, Sweet Pea Breastfeeding Support, provides individual lactation consultations both locally and nationwide. In January of 2016, together with Hope Lien, Alyssa began the Breastfeeding Outside the Box podcast. Hope and 'Alyssa are delighted to announce the expansion of Breastfeeding Outside the Box to also include an online course starting in the fall of 2016. Alyssa enjoys working with all mothers and babies, but she has an extra special place in her heart for helping mothers through adoption and surrogacy to breastfeed their babies. She is the author of Breastfeeding Without Birthing: A Breastfeeding Guide for Mothers Through Adoption, Surrogacy, and Other Special Circumstances. Alyssa is the proud mother of three breastfed children, two by birth and one by adoption.
Feel free to leave a voice message in the Breastfeeding Outside the Box mailbox with your questions or comments for the podcast -including your medication and herb questions for Dr.Nice. We can't wait to hear from you!
We are proud to present a series of podcasts for parents Breastfeeding Outside the Box, where we aim to support the nourishing and nurturing of babies in exceptional families - families who historically have not received the help and support they need and deserve. Our exceptional families include adoptive, intended, and foster families; gender, sexual, and racial minorities; families with special needs babies; parents who have had breast surgery; mothers with IGT or low milk production for other reasons; exclusively pumping mothers; and more.
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I'm done with all 3 podcasts and I love them! I can't wait to hear the next one. Thanks for providing such a wonderful service. For someone who doesn't know anybody who has breastfed an adopted baby, it is empowering to know that it can and has been done, and that I'm not alone. - Liz M.
I am just extremely excited there are resources available! Thank you so much for the podcasts and information. You have no idea how much hope this has given me. - Manette B.
This is insanely good, do listen! - Stef G.
Thanks for all the support. Everyone in my life is amazed at what he and I are doing together and I can honestly say I wouldn't have the knowledge without your book and podcasts. - Liz M.
Breastfeeding Outside the Box aims to be as inclusive as possible. We are aware that the term "breastfeeding" has limitations: not all of our listeners have breasts and not all of our listeners are feeding at the breast. We are also aware that not all of our listeners identify as mothers. Therefore, we will regularly use the term "nursing" rather than "breastfeeding", and "parent" rather than "mother." While we cannot identify directly with every listener, as adoptive mothers who nursed their babies, Hope and I do understand what it is like to parent outside the box and will make every effort possible to embrace anyone interested in being a part of Breastfeeding Outside the Box. We also know that we are human with our own limitations and biases, and look forward to learning and growing with you. Please let us know how we can make you feel more welcome and supported.
Breastfeeding Outside The Box exists to provide education and information about breastfeeding options for people everywhere. Every effort has been made to provide up to date and accurate information, but this information should never be used to diagnose or treat problems you may be experiencing. Information shared in this episode is not intended to replace medical advice or care from your health care provider, and we encourage you to consult with your personal physician, pediatrician or local IBCLC before making decisions about your care or the care of your baby.