Sarah Baker | May 22, 2013 | 01:04 PM
Since my first son, Isaac, is biologically mine, I was able to naturally breast feed him. I never really cared for the smell or the cost of formula and I felt it was what was best for him. God gave me the ability, so I was going to try my hardest to make it work. I successfully breast fed Isaac until he was about 14 months old. When we decided on adoption, I wished I could give our new baby the same nourishment. I worried about all sorts of things, like first of all, how would I even be able to do it? Secondly, would people think I was strange if I nursed a baby I adopted instead of gave birth to? I talked to the mother who selected us and she was on board for me doing it, so that made me feel like I could and should!
I started the process by searching the web to find resources on inducing lactation and seeing my OBGYN and endocrinologist. I was a bit discouraged at first because the most beneficial sites I found suggested a 6+ month induction time frame for best results. I didn’t have that much time. My GYN referred me to Mercy Hospital’s lactation department. There I met with a wonderful lady who sat down with me and went over my hopes and the protocols that I found online. She was very happy to hear that I was actually “re-lactating” since I nursed Isaac years ago. She was hopeful that it would be much easier for me; however we had a road block with the protocol. The protocol still called for 2 drugs to be taken. One was an oral birth control (I decided on Ocella for the estrogen and progesterone) as well as a drug called Domperidone. It is actually a medication used for severe acid reflux and nausea (I have those frequently), but its side effect is increased prolactin. Prolactin is made by the pituitary gland (I used to have a pituitary tumor that secreted prolactin, so my doctor took some convincing on this protocol). Domperidone is highly recommended by lactation consultants and doctors alike, however it has never been approved by the FDA in the US. It can be prescribed, but because of its lack of FDA approval, some doctors are nervous to actually write a script. I had to make the decision to order it from another country or take an alternate drug called Reglan which crosses the blood brain barrier and can cause mental illness if taken longer than 3 weeks. I went with ordering Domperidone from another country. The risk seemed far less scary. With 17 weeks left to go in the birth mother’s pregnancy, I started taking Ocella. I tolerated the birth control very well. I was to skip the placebo pills and continue with just the hormone pills until I stop a few weeks prior to birth. Adding in the Domperidone gradually and continuing taking it after the birth control is stopped to keep the milk production and prolactin high. Because I nursed Isaac, my milk glands were already in the state they needed to be or apparently it wouldn’t take much to get them where they needed to be. Within days of taking birth control, my breasts started to hurt and feel much heavier. I began massaging them daily for about 5 minutes per breast. I began nipple stimulation with the massage and in the shower for a few minutes each day to toughen, stimulate and prepare.
The “Ask Lenore” website is the standard protocol used for inducing… it says to take to take the Domperidone the entire time you are taking the birth control and eventually wean off it once milk supply is well established. Other sites claim that it has a peak point at 14 days of use and then begins to trail off. So that was going to be trial and error I suppose. Within a few weeks I started getting drops of milk. I was impressed with the quick results! Unfortunately, our adoption match fell through and we were unsure if we would proceed in adoption after our devastation of that loss, so I stopped the protocol. When we decided to move forward again we were matched very quickly and I started again. Although I did get some milk before Ezra was born, it was not full supply. He was a hungry little fella and although he was excellent at nursing, my milk supply never fully came in and out of pure exhaustion I turned to formula. I was disappointed in myself, but he did continue to nurse daily for the first month while also getting formula. I am glad we had some time together with breast feeding, even if it wasn’t much milk or a full year. It was an excellent way to bond with my new baby.
Some helpful things to help with milk production to have on hand are:
• Goat’s Rue
• Mother’s Milk Tea
• Medela or other brand Nursing Simulator
• A good breast pump
PS. Two big things happened for Ezra this week: The doctor said he was ready to start cereal, so we tried it and he LOVED it. Isaac was 6 months when he tried rice cereal. Drum roll please, Ezra’s very first tooth broke through…. 4 months and 2 weeks old. Isaac was 7 months old when he got his first tooth. I was a very thankful breast feeding mama for that! It really goes to show you how each baby is so different.