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Lactation Induction for non bio-mom

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Ok, right off the bat, I know that some people may not like my view on this, but I am here becuase I need some support and help from people.

My partner and I have two daughters. I carried them both. I have PCOS and because of that, my milk ducts in my breasts were never properly formed and I can only make a tiny amout of milk. I pumped every 2 hours and nursed as much as I could with DD #1 and after 8 weeks, my milk just vanished....never had enough to give her solely breastmilk. With DD#2, I tried More Milk Plus, and we saw a lactation consultant. The baby never latched on at all, not even with the help of a lactation consultant and my milk from solely pumping was slightly better than with DD#1 but for only a couple of weeks, and then it dropped off as well. After 6 weeks with DD#2, I stopped pumping.

Now, I am 4 mos. pregnant with twins. My partner and I agreed that I would carry the babies as long as I could bf them. We never knew that I would have such a problem medically. My partner now feels that I did not hold up my end of the bargain, and she wants to induce lactation and try and get milk supply (from pumping only) for the twins.

Simply, I am not comfortable with this. I know that when I hear her arguments and her feelings, I can validate them and I understand where she is coming from, but I cannot get comfortable with this idea.

I think that in this area of my life, I see things in a conservative view. I think that our relationship has always been that while we are both women, I saw her more as the "Dad" in the parenting situation even though our kids call her Mommy. I just wanted to be the only one to carry our kids and bf them. I didnt want to share that experience with anyone. I know that this is where people may find my comments to be unpleasing or upsetting or whatever, but I am not a naturalist, and I do not know how to wrap my brain around this concept. Or find comfort in it. She basically gave me an ultimatum and expects my support, period. She has a more naturalist view in this sense, and I am not on board with her.

I know all about the benefits and all that stuff of getting breastmilk, and I support it in other people, but I don't want this for my life. I suppose I need help - some encouraging words, or maybe some supportive things that someone can say to help me find comfort in this. I don't think I have an option in how I feel, and I don't think that I have a choice in how this is going to happen, but I need help in finding a way to live with this and come to terms with it, and my own insecurity. I feel like she is taking something away from me, taking away my role.

My partner has no desire to carry a child, but she wants this experience. I know, theoretically, that I should not deny her that, but I just don't know how to find comfort in this idea.

If anyone has anything to say that could help me, please do. I am feeling so conflicted and awful.
post #2 of 18
I'm sorry that you had such a difficult time breastfeeding your first two babies. It is awful to want to provide for your baby and feel like your body is standing in your way.

First, even if your partner is very successful in inducing lactation (via hormones and pumping), it is incredibly unlikely--I would even say impossible--that she would have enough milk to exclusively breastfeed twins. Thus, as I see it, the possible scenario could be that the babies get a combination of breastfeeding with you, breastfeeding with your wife, and expressed breastmilk (and possibly/probably other supplemental donor milk or formula as well), either by bottle or via LACT-aid.

My wife and I are both nursing our 6-month-old ds, though she is by far the primary provider of nutrition for him. I nurse him mainly for comfort and to tide him over between his REAL feedings (I am home with ds 3 days a week, but I bring him to dw for nursings (or she comes home) every few hours). I think it was hard for dw at first to share this part of mothering the baby with me--though our situation is different from yours in that I exclusively breastfed our first three children--mostly because when she'd see me nursing him, she'd feel like she SHOULD be nursing him. But now it's really just so wonderful and dw is nothing but grateful for my extra set of boobs. And I am so very glad that I am getting to nurse my fourth son just as I did our other three. It would have been very hard for me not to experience that with him.

Having twins is an incredible amount of work. Before I had mine, I remember worrying that it would be hard for me to share the babies with family members (i.e. grandmothers and aunts, etc.) because I imagined that I'd just want to hold them all the time. But after they were born, I was so grateful for any help I could get. I begged dw to at least try comfort nursing our twin babies, since they refused pacifiers and wanted to suck ALL THE TIME, but she wasn't into it. In other words, I think you might find that you feel much less possessive once your babies are actually born. You might just be grateful that your dw is able to nurse your babies, too.

I can definitely understand why it would be upsetting to imagine giving birth to your babies and then having dw exclusively breastfeed them, but that is not going to happen. Sharing the feeding duties with your wife does not have to be a loss at all. Really, it should only add to the experience for both of you.

Congrats on your pregnancy!


ETA: please do check out our breastfeeding forum and ask questions about what you can do to increase your milk supply and/or increase your chances of being successful with feeding at the breast this go round (even if you have to use supplemental milk or formula to do so).
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Lex, thank you so much for your response. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer. I have never felt possessive our kids before, and I wanted to always share everything with my wife, but this makes me feel completely useless, like once they are born, I kind of have to turn them over to her. I feel like I am going to have trouble bonding with them because of this. My wife's suggestion is that I only pump colostrum for the first 10 days after their birth and then just stop and let my tiny amount of milk dry up because its going to be so insignificant, what's the point of pumping anyway. I feel so tossed aside and disfunctional and just sick over this. I don't think she will ever understand how I feel because she just needs this experience so much for herself, I don't think she can understand how I feel beacuse she has been the parent who has not carried all this time. That is what we decided on and what we wanted, but beacuse of that, I think it does not allow her to understand my perspective very well either. My wife says that she will only pump and would not be comfortable with actual breastfeeding, but I still can't feel like this is a good thing...and I don't know how to. It is like there is just this angst in my chest and it is getting in the way of my happiness and my bonding with the babies and excitement about their birth. I felt like I had this perfect life, and someone burst my bubble. I love my wife more than I can even say, and I want her to be happy too, but this is hurting me so much, I don't think she will ever understand. At the same time, she says that her not trying to do this will be hurting her and what happens when she wakes up one day in a few years, and she has lost out on the experience and can never get it back. My retort to that was that she gave up that experience when we decided that I would carry our children...but she said that was under the stipulation that I bf them. I wish, I wish so much that I could have.

Again, thank you for your kind response.
post #4 of 18
This will be a very brief reply, because I'm on the run, but I just wanted to note that I too had HUGE breastfeeding issues, and it was pretty much the most emotionally devastating thing about parenthood for me.

One thing I've discovered in talking to other mamas is that your experience with one kid is not necessarily the experience you'll have with the next. You're going into this saying that you're not going to be able to breastfeed, but perhaps that won't be the case. Even if you're not making enough milk, you could try supplementing at the breast with a Lact-Aid. I used one with my DD and it's a great product. Then you could still have some of the bonding of breastfeeding, and your DP could pump milk for you to use as the supplement.

Anyway, just a thought. I second Lex's suggestion to check out the breastfeeding forums. I particularly found the "Breastfeeding Challenges" forum to be helpful, and those mamas may have some advice on what to do to maximize your own chances of breastfeeding success.

Good luck, and to you.
post #5 of 18
First of all, I am not "queer parenting" but I hope you don't mind my advice.

I also have PCOS and carried two babies only to find out that I would not be able to nurse them as I had planned. My breastfeeding story is exactly as you described yours. I tried everything on the planet to make milk and it just would not happen. So, I have tremendous sympathy for the pain you are experiencing. But, when I realized that I could not exclusively breastfeed our sons, I would have given my left arm to have breastmilk coming out of my husband!

After your second post, I'm wondering why there is so much conflict. At first, I thought your wife wanted to nurse the babies and that is why you could not participate. But if she only wants to pump for them, then what harm is there in you nursing them, either for comfort/bonding or as much nutritive milk you could produce? It just seems like you could both have what you want. If you can't BF 100%, then you will need to supplement, right...so, supllement with formula or your wife's milk? Is this the root of the problem that you would prefer formula over someone else's milk? And what is her objection to you nursing if she has no interest in that for herself? It seems if she is more natural minded, she could see the benefit of using your breasts for comfort over say a paci?

I really hope you can find a peaceful solution that works for both of you. You are a very courageous mama to express yourself so honestly and seek out advice.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone, I really appreciate the comments.

I think that I would rather use formula, and I think that has to do with my own insecurities. It almost evens the "playing field" in a way. I may be wrong for that, and I know a lot of people do not feel that way, but I can't help how I feel. I am trying to, trust me. My life would be a lot less complicated and stressful right now if I could just get over that idea. Our first daughter only latched on at 3 weeks old, but not very well. Second daughter never did. I think we both assume that I could never get the twins to nurse from my breast anyway. After seeing a lactation consultant with our second daughter, she commented on how she didn't really feel it was impossible, but it was not going well beacuse the baby's mouth was significantly too small for my breast, and DD#1 was the same way. Because I am a working mom, and I am only on maternity leave 2-3 months, I would work all that time to get a baby to latch on, let alone two, and then just have to stop except for maybe once a day. It just doesn't seem worth the trouble when I am having so much trouble with making milk in the first place.

I may be overreacting in some ways to this issue, but being married to a woman really complicates this issue. I think that I take for granted that we have 2 uteruses and 2 sets of breasts between us and I have gotten into the mentality of me only...and in terms of carrying children, I like that I am "the only one." I think that is selfish, but I can't seem to feel differently. Maybe because I am an only child...its like an only child complex or something.

Nevertheless, I think that this issue has kind of mushroomed out of control and I cannot stay calm, I can't think about anything else, and I just feel like crying all the time. That must be worse from pregnancy hormones, I know, but I don't want this to hurt my relationship with my wife. I think I am officially a mess.
post #7 of 18
I've yet to hear of a non-gestational mama who can induce enough for one baby, let alone two.
Look into milkshare and get yourself a Lact-Aid. Actually, get yourself half a dozen Lact-Aids! You can also look on Craiglist for them.
These two things could salvage the whole situation, honestly.
And get yourself on domperidone once the babes arrive. Domperidone works wonders!
post #8 of 18
I read your post yesterday and have been thinking about it a lot. I'm so sorry you had such a hard time nursing your first two children. I can see why it would make the stakes feel much higher for these babies you are expecting now.

First I want to say this stuff is so tricky, whether you're both nursing or not. Building a two mom family is hard. So much of the definition of mother includes the idea of there being only one, and even if you don't realize it when you start out, making a family with two moms deeply challenges that. It sounds like the issue of nursing is really bringing this out for both you and your wife.

I'm confused about several things. Do I understand correctly that your wife is wanting only to pump for the babies and not nurse them at the breast? I'm a bit confused about why she would want to do that. Is it possible that she actually would like the experience of nursing and having that bonding with them herself, but perhaps isn't saying so because she's trying to spare your feelings (however clumsily)? I don't know many women who would voluntarily sign up for pumping only, though I know some women make that work when the situation demands it.

I'm also confused as to why her nursing would mean that you should not attempt to nurse at all (i.e. the plan for you to pump colostrum and then let what milk you have dry up). Even with previous nursing problems, I don't see any reason why her inducing lactation (if that ends up being something you decide together is worth doing) would preclude a healthy nursing relationship for you, which sounds like something you'd really like, even if, as Lex says, that means some form of supplementation. This seems doubly true with twins. I also second Lex's point that the chances of inducing to produce anywhere near enough milk for one baby, let alone two, even with a full induction protocol including BCPs, herbs, and domperidone, are minimal at best. (For reference, My wife re-lactated after not nursing for almost two years, and got to 10-ish ounces a day, which was a pretty good response)

As you understand it, is your wife's primary desire for the babies to have breastmilk? You've written mostly about her desire for this "experience," but, especially if as you say, she's hoping only to pump, that seems strange as a sole motivator. She may share your regret that your first two were not able to get breastmilk, and this may be her way of really wanting to step up and provide for them. In many ways, if the two of you can find a way through this, this could be a great plan. You'd could end up with two women to nurse two babies, and might be able to feed them solely on BM with both of you contributing. Again, if you can find a way through this together, and not have it rip you apart, this seems like it could be a great shared experience.

You also sound like you're feeling really bad for feeling this way, but this is clearly hitting you out of left field, and bringing up hard stuff about nursing your first two babies. Give yourself a break OK? My wife and I both nursed our son for the first 6 months, her re-lactating was my idea in the first place, I was extremely supportive of her in doing so, and it was *still* hard for me to hand him over to nurse with her when the time finally came (and I'm also very glad I did). I guess what I'm saying is that these things are hard (and by these things I mean not just sharing nursing, but sharing all of mothering and parenting), even in the best of circumstances.

I really think this might be bringing up stuff that would be really good for you and your wife to work through together. You write that you've always thought of your wife as more of a dad even though she's called "mommy," and I wouldn't be surprised if what's really going on is more about that, about sharing the role of mother itself, and not just sharing parenting, especially if no conversations about roles and assumptions around biology in your family have come up before. I'd be especially suspicious of this (i.e. that this is about more than nursing) if your wife is also primary breadwinner and you are primary caretaker for your older children (you don't say, but that would indicate you both may have made some unspoken assumptions about the role/importance of biology in structuring your family, which can be totally fine, but if you don't acknowledge it, you can be surprised later in strange ways).

If you can find a way through this, and really talk about it and understand each other, even if it is really hard, you may well come to a better place than you were when you started out.

Hang in there, OK? and congratulations on those twins.

Edited to Add: We cross posted and I just saw that you do work outside the home in your last comment.
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
thank you for your post, Lyn.

I have to agree with you, that I think that this is more about juggling the role of mother than it is about the actual nursing issues. I think that I did not realize that as much until yesterday when I tried to talk to my wife about how I felt. It is hard sometimes to build a two mom family...and I never really felt any unrest about that or any different from anyone else, until this arose and I felt threatened...but its true, that we are both women and we both have these body parts that do things that heterosexual couples just don't have. My wife and I talked last night - the discussion did not start out very well, and we both got a bit hurt and I cried (me at work, and her sitting in her sister's living room full of people, perfect timing for the conversation, I know) but we walked away not mad at each other, just both a little hurt by the other's insensitivity to our own feelings. She feels like she has sacrificed so much to let me carry the babies and even though she does not want to carry them, she still feels like she could have technically, so she did give up that opportunity and beacuse of that, I should automatically support her, without question. Her issue and why she is angry that I am not on board with her - is that I am not automatically thinking like she is. She doesn't understand my perspective at all, and feels like that is just a stupid way of thinking so she doesn't understand how I feel... I told her how I felt and I told her that she was being very hurtful to me by being so angry and invective about it, rather than letting me find some peace with this, and helping me be reassured and such, but the fact that I need to be reassured and need time was what was making her angry...she just feels like because she has given me so much in terms of how our children are brought into this world, I just owe her in a way...and I should not even think twice when she asks for this because she has never asked for anything. It ended up with me asking her to be more respectful and that I was trying - really trying to get through this - and be there on her side, but she can't expect it overnight. I think we both felt much better after we talked.

Breastmilk and breastfeeding is very important to her and that is what we both want for our kids. Since that was not something I could achieve, she wants to provide that for our twins as much as she can. She feels like she has these breasts that we might as well try to see if they can benefit them. Neither of us feel comfortable with her actually nursing them, so that is why she wants to pump. She knows that she may not have enough to give both babies all BM but she wants to give them as much as she can. I told her that I wanted to try harder to maybe even take the domperidone too, which I never did before. I think that I need to just think of this as getting our babies' nutrition from a different source. They will still get her milk from a bottle, and if anyone is able to actually nurse, it will be me, but because I am having trouble defining that role of mother - meaning the carrier makes the milk, and thats it... I felt like it was the same thing as her trying to actually nurse them. And once we talked a bit last night I started to see that it really the two fold issue. 1) I am thinking in a more closed-minded way of carrier makes milk only - and 2) she is not going to be nursing them or trying to take away my role or take them away from me, she is just helping provide them with better nutrition. I think that I am starting to find some comfort in that...and sometimes, that is the hardest part of any issue, that you have to break it down and look at it in pieces in order to understand what is causing the feelings you are having.

Now, while I was able to successfully fetter out those simple aspects...I don't feel 100% okay on the issue yet, but I am not feeling sick over it anymore - and I think that I am going to just continue to improve how it all feels beacuse I know that these are our kids, no matter what they are drinking.... and that I am still part of them as she is.

We went for an ultrasound last night to see if they could tell genders yet, and they could not, but it was so good to see them jumping around in there...made me feel so much better and re-bonded and excited and in love with them. I think these last few days just threw me off so much and I was so emotional and hormonal - that I could not see the forest before the trees, or however that colloquialism goes! lol.

I really want to say to everyone that I am so grateful for your support and talking to me, I really do not think that I could have come to this place, the beggining of getting through this, without your help. It really helped me, and I am very grateful that I had a place and people to discuss this with!

Now, I have another question - part of my issue with the reality of her pumping, is that we would have to tell my family....a fairly conservative-minded, Jewish family of older people, who are really not going to understand this. I am concerned about lectures, ridicule, and the like. Have you all had any issues with your families being supportive of dual breastfeeding or pumping?
post #10 of 18
Originally Posted by beangoddess3 View Post
Now, I have another question - part of my issue with the reality of her pumping, is that we would have to tell my family....a fairly conservative-minded, Jewish family of older people, who are really not going to understand this. I am concerned about lectures, ridicule, and the like. Have you all had any issues with your families being supportive of dual breastfeeding or pumping?
Just a quick response to this last question: The absolute only response we have gotten is that everyone is amazed and interested and thinks it's the coolest thing ever. Many moms admit to being a bit jealous of the situation (some admit to being a LOT jealous). My wife has said she sometimes felt uncomfortable at first nursing in situations where folks knew she had not given birth, but she proceeded with confidence, and remembered that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her nursing her own son. Seeing them together made me really proud, proud that she would do that for our son (it was a lot of work), and proud that I was able to make room for her to do so (of the two of us, it wouldn't be a stretch to say I'm the more territorial...)

Some of what your wife was saying sounds like things I said to my wife when she was pregnant with our first. I did feel like I sacrificed a lot not being pregnant, but that the sacrifices were invisible to the outside world and really hard to nail down or pinpoint. It's probably hard for her to even understand or say exactly what it is she feels like she's given up, because there's just so little guidance out there about how to navigate this path of motherhood, and it's hard to even find the words. It sounds like you're really doing your best to listen, and that you're finding some ways to talk about this. That's good work.

And seeing healthy babies on the ultrasound must have felt good for both of you. Hang in there.
post #11 of 18
Originally Posted by beangoddess3 View Post
Now, I have another question - part of my issue with the reality of her pumping, is that we would have to tell my family....a fairly conservative-minded, Jewish family of older people, who are really not going to understand this. I am concerned about lectures, ridicule, and the like. Have you all had any issues with your families being supportive of dual breastfeeding or pumping?
For us the response from all sides has been nothing but positive. But we live in a very pro-breastfeeding/breastmilk area and our families are very supportive of our parenting and nutritional beliefs. That said, even our grandparents, who are certainly from the "bottles and formula are best" generation, have not so much as raised an eyebrow at the fact that we are both breastfeeding our son. I think, in many ways, it IS so natural, and rather than find it alarming, they see it as some sort of evidence that we BOTH really are "the mother" to our baby. I feel like my nursing Leo definitely helped my more genetically-oriented grandparents to accept Leo as their real great-grandson, and it helped Lena's extended family to see that I was mothering Leo the same way that I mothered all of our other babies, despite the lack of genetic relationship.

All that said, I don't see why, in your situation, your family would have to know that your wife was pumping and that it was her breastmilk in the bottles (or supplemental feeder bags--don't give up on that option ). I'm not saying that I would suggest you keep it secret, but it sounds like what you plan to do could potentially be quite discreet.

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
I think we do plan on being somewhat discreet. Wife's family is totally on board and think i was crazy for struggling with the idea... but my family is made up of older, Jewish, more conservative people. In fact, none of my family breastfed except for my mother who also had milk production problems like me and had to supplement with formula.

I am so not sure how people would react to this, I think I would rather just leave it be our own business, but the thing is, its kind of like coming out - you never know what someone's reactions will be. I think it will just have to be a play it by ear thing.

I have a OB appt. tomorrow morning so we are going to talk to the Dr. about the meds for wife.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone, just wanted to check in and give an update.

We talked to the doctor and she was open to the idea completely, which I expected. She said that they do not use or recommend using domperidone because of some nasty side effects and the whole FDA thing...but suggested Reglan. Has anyone tried that? Also, my wife wants to start taking birth control, not the inactive pills so that she can put her body into a "pregnancy state." Do you know if this sounds like we are going in the right direction?

Also, we found out their genders Saturday! BOTH GIRLS! I cannot believe it - we are going to have 4 daughters!

Hope everyone is well.
post #14 of 18
I'm so interested in this thread as we are going down a similar path wrt me inducing lactation for our bumble due in August. I've been attempting to read about inducing lactation on the breastfeeding issues section of the mdc, but would love to know more as you find it out. That being said, it does sound like that seems to be a similar path to that which others have tried.
I don't know about Reglan... I'd love to be able to try without meds, but I haven't really figured out if that's possible or not. I don't think I would do Reglan, I know that some people use it for reflux in babies and in that area it's generally frowned upon around here as having some issue with brains... but I forget what exactly. Definitely worth more and more and more research!

Two girls! How lovely!!! Congrats!!
post #15 of 18
Originally Posted by beangoddess3 View Post
Hi everyone, just wanted to check in and give an update.

We talked to the doctor and she was open to the idea completely, which I expected. She said that they do not use or recommend using domperidone because of some nasty side effects and the whole FDA thing...but suggested Reglan. Has anyone tried that? Also, my wife wants to start taking birth control, not the inactive pills so that she can put her body into a "pregnancy state." Do you know if this sounds like we are going in the right direction?

Also, we found out their genders Saturday! BOTH GIRLS! I cannot believe it - we are going to have 4 daughters!

Hope everyone is well.
One website you might want to check out: Four Friends Everything you want/need to know about inducing lactation.

Reglan is not generally recommended by those in the lactation field. It has many MORE side effects than Domperidone (the big one being severe depression). Read more about it here: http://www.kellymom.com/health/meds/...actagogue.html . The reason why Domperidone is not FDA approved has nothing to do with its safety as a galactagogue. The American Academy of Pediatrics has approved it for use by breastfeeding mothers.

Congrats on the baby girls! I seriously can't even imagine it.

post #16 of 18
Yep, you are on the right track. Our LC also strongly discouraged reglan, her primary reason being the depression. She also said that the FDA warnings are really not relevant to healthy nursing women, though I have not researched that myself. Our doctor also wouldn't prescribe or discuss domperidone, but we used it anyway with our LC's reassurance.

The resource from Lex looks great, and I'll also point you to an old post by my wife that links to some useful info on protocols etc:

Also, we had some annoyance with the BCP prescription that you might want to watch out for since the insurance company thinks that three weeks of pills is actually a 28 day supply, so if your wife's BCPs are covered, make sure the prescription is written as "to be taken continuously."

Congrats on all of those girls! You and Lex will almost have a matched set!
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for that site Lex, great info. Yes, we will have a matched set! Are you guys going to try for more?

Lyn, how did you get the domperidone if it was not a prescription?
post #18 of 18
Sorry, just realized my link wasn't actually there:


There's more info about what we actually did re: drugs & protocol on that post (and far more detail about the experience than you probably ever wanted on others under the "inducing lactation" tag).
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