From the Art of Lactation:
PART I: LESSONS IN LACTATION
PART I: LESSONS IN LACTATION
What is Lactation?
In the very basic definition of the word, lactation can be defined as the formation of breast milk, but when it comes to making that beautiful breast milk, many couples discover that the process can be a true labor of love, one that takes a great deal of time, patience, and concentrated effort. Breast milk does not just happen. It must be produced over a sometimes lengthy period of time, and if you are hoping to accomplish the goal of making breast milk without the aid of pregnancy and childbirth, which, of course, makes the process much easier, then you and your partner will need to take a very realistic approach to lactation. Producing breast milk requires a great deal of physical and emotional responsibility, and just like the beautiful nursing relationship itself, lactation is a partnership where you will work together to build--and maintain--a healthy supply of breast milk.
The process of producing non-maternal breast milk is referred to as inducing lactation, or lactation induction, and it is a very real and exciting possibility for every woman. Over the years, many women have successfully induced lactation and enjoyed a healthy supply of breast milk even if they have never experienced pregnancy or childbirth, are post-menopausal, or have undergone hysterectomies. The process requires a perfectly balanced cocktail of hormones such as prolactin, progesterone, and oxytocin, which are released by the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain, which means that very little can hinder a woman's ability to make breast milk...
Anatomy of a Woman
Before we explore techniques to induce lactation, and how to draw that lovely milk from the gracious and giving breasts once it has begun to flow, let's take a moment to discuss the beautiful female breast, how it produces milk, and put to rest two common myths regarding breastfeeding.
The female breast, comprised of specialized glandular tissue and fat cells, overlays the pectoral muscles, and outwardly is made up of the body, the nipple, and the areola, the ring of color surrounding the human nipple. Housed within these magnificently unique woman's breasts, which have been preparing to produce milk since she was an embryo in her mother's womb, is an intricate network of channels that all work together to produce breast milk. Nestled within each breast are the milk ducts; during the inducing process, a woman will release high levels of prolactin, progesterone, and estrogen, three important hormones that encourage breast milk production. When these hormones are released, the milk ducts increase in number and size...
Categories of Milk
As your body begins the beautiful process of lactation and starts to produce nature's finest food, that nutrient-enriched liquid gold, you will notice a difference in the type of milk your body makes...
Understanding the Supply and Demand of Lactation
Since you and your partner have chosen to introduce lactation into your loving ANR, you can probably imagine how thrilling it is when those first glistening drops of breast milk appear after all of the hard work you've gone through to make it happen! It's empowering! Emotions run high. You'll be excited and elated, and unable to believe that your body was able to do something so amazing, as your partner anticipates that first sweet taste.
There won't be much, I'm afraid.
As wonderful as it would be to achieve full milk supply right away, the reality is that lactation takes time, it can be a slow (sometimes frustrating) process, and it varies greatly and is unique to every woman because we are unique--and so are our bodies.
It's sort of cute to think about having our own little milk factories tucked away inside our bodies, isn't it? We can make as much fresh, healthy milk as we like--just not in great quantities right away. We "natural milk maids", unfortunately, cannot immediately fill massive orders for the goods . We work on a supply and demand basis...
The Let-Down Reflex
“Relaxation is key to this reflex. Simply lose yourself to the moment, and reap the benefits of this magical experience.”
A woman's body is an amazing thing, and although it may seem that making milk is a magical process, there are no black-tipped wands or smoke and mirror tricks to aid in increasing the speed of non-maternal lactation.
"So, I recently started nursing and am able to feed my husband a little milk, but he's getting irritated because it seems to take forever for it to come out! It's frustrating!"
This seems to be a common problem among new-to-nursing couples who have chosen to induce lactation within their loving ANRs, particularly for the male partner (sorry, guys!) who dreams of full, firm, milk-filled breasts and enjoying a mouthful of liquid gold upon initial contact. It's a nice dream, but unfortunately, the milk-making process simply doesn't work that way.
During a nursing session, the breasts must first release the milk that has been made, and allow it to flow, and this process is known as the let-down reflex.
A woman's body and brain must cooperate and work together as a team to ensure proper lactation. If you have explored Chapter Two in this book, then you’ll recall how the process of lactation takes place; much of it is brought about by breast stimulation and the proper placement of hormones. When the nerve endings in the nipple and areola are stimulated, the brain receives a signal to release prolactin (which tells the alveoli to gather proteins and sugars from the blood and turn them into milk) and oxytocin (which causes the cells surrounding the alveoli to contract and eject milk down the milk ducts). And this all comes together to create the let-down reflex...
The Proper Latch
We are born with the instinct to suckle. From the moment we emerge from our mother's womb, it is in our nature to seek her breast, but over time, as we mature and develop, and nature takes her sweet course, we lose the ability to properly latch and suckle, as we are meant to find our sustenance by other means. Fortunately, for those of us who enjoy healthy adult nursing relationships, this instinct can be re-learned fairly easily.
Breast play, where the nipple is licked, sucked, and lavished with the lips and tongue as a form of sexual gratification is a fantastic part of a healthy relationship, but it does not provide the stimulation required to produce breast milk. In an adult nursing relationship, we suckle, even if we dry nurse without the goal of lactation.
Surprisingly, the nipple plays a very small role in suckling. Suckling is...
Adult Nursing Positions for the Loving Couple
There are many nursing positions to choose from, and it is wonderful to try several of them to find the one that works perfectly for both of you to ensure the most pleasant of suckling experiences. Nursing should always be a relaxing and enjoyable experience , so settle in and get comfortable before you begin!
Nursing an adult is wonderful because the close proximity of these loving positions allows you to stroke, caress, and embrace one another during each session, which enhances the intimacy and bond within the relationship...
Levels of Lactation
Lactation can be measured in 10 levels, beginning with the inducing process, and ending with full lactation, and these measures can be used as a general guideline to help you gauge your personal progress and success as you and your partner work to establish breast milk supply.
Lactation is much more than the physical process of making breast milk; it is also an extremely emotional one, and women often experience a rush of new feelings as the process of inducing begins and her body's hormone levels shift. You might experience bouts of euphoria or tears; some women feel an overwhelming sense of empowerment as they begin the self-discovery of womanhood and recognize their own femininity. You might even notice the urge to...
PART II: METHODS OF MAKING MILK
The Flexible 30-Day Nursing Schedule
A common problem that many active nursing couples who hope to induce lactation within their loving ANR face is finding a nursing schedule that they can commit to. This simple schedule is wonderful because it revolve around your busy lifestyle and can be completely customized. What's even better is that it will produce results within just 30 days with just one dedicated daily nursing session and without the need of incorporating herbal supplements or additional pumping sessions.
The key to successful lactation is...
Lactation Technique #1
The Art of Suckling
Now that you understand the process of lactation, and what you may expect as you reach new phases in the journey, have practiced putting your partner to the breast, and set a comfortable and flexible nursing schedule that you can easily commit to, the time has come to begin making that precious liquid gold--and choosing how you will do so. You may, of course, decide to incorporate a variety of techniques to encourage milk production and flow, but in doing so, consistency will remain key.
In many ways, lactation is an emotional process that begins by...
Lactation Technique #2
Manual stimulation simply means that you--or your partner--will use your hands to massage your breasts to aid in the lactation process, and this milk-making technique, while very effective if suckling is not an option for any particular reason, truly requires a great deal of dedication and a carefully regulated schedule.
When it comes to producing breast milk, a woman's body does not identify the process as...
Lactation Technique #3
Breast Pump Stimulation
A good breast pump can be a valuable tool for those women who hope to induce lactation, but simply don't have the time to massage their breasts every day of every week on a strictly regulated schedule that involves approximately eight manual sessions in a 24-hour period of time. While not as effective as suckling or hand expression, as this method of inducing doesn't quite provide the depth of stimulation as the previously discussed techniques, pumping to induce lactation can still be beneficial, and is a milk-making method that many women use with great success. Pumping allows great flexibility as you decide how often you will employ this technique. Important things to remember, regardless of how often you choose to pump, is...
Lactation Technique #4
TENS Unit Stimulation
A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) Unit is a medical device comprised of channels and electrodes (pads). A TENS Unit produces a very low electrical micro-current that flows from one electrode of each unit channel to the other electrode of the same channel. A single channel unit contains one channel and two electrodes while a double unit is comprised of two channels and four electrodes. The original use of a TENS Unit was meant to stimulate the body's nerves in an effort to mask pain, but its purpose in aiding lactation is to actively stimulate the nerves of the breast, particularly in the nipple and areola, in an effort to release prolactin and encourage milk production.
Power pumping is an inducing technique that encourages the breasts to produce more milk at an increased rate by mimicking the frequent nursings of an infant who is experiencing a growth spurt. At this time in an infant's life, he or she will often suckle more frequently, more vigorously, and for longer periods of time, which triggers an increased release of prolactin from the pituitary gland, sending the "make more milk more quickly" message to the nursing woman's breasts.