Adjusting Your Inducing Schedule to Fit Your Lifestyle

The following question from a reader recently crossed my inbox, and I wanted to share it with others who may be experiencing the same dilemma regarding the inducing process within their adult nursing relationship:

“After you started a schedule to induce did having the schedule ever kill some of the joy in doing it?  By nature I’m not a real schedule person, I do for work and when I need to. I think when milk begins to come in I’ll probably be more excited about that and the schedule will be worth it but my excitement has plummeted for now. Thanks for any advice.”

This is not an uncommon concern.

Every woman who has ever induced lactation or attempted to trigger re-lactation knows that the process can be challenging; as a matter of fact, it can be a true labor of love. Unfortunately, making non-maternal breast milk doesn’t just happen. It takes a great deal of concentrated physical and emotional effort. It is work. But  it should never feel like a chore. For some women, a strict and rigorous nursing schedule takes much of the joy out of the experience, and we can’t have that, can we? :) Nursing should be a thrilling, exciting, and relaxing experience, a time to anticipate, rather than to dread.

Stress, anxiety, irritation, and frustration can actually hinder breast milk production, so if you’re feeling that “pressure to produce”, you may find that you’ll have more difficulty with the inducing process than someone who takes a more relaxed and casual approach to the experience.

Today, let’s discuss the inducing schedule–and making it work for you.

Lactation inducing is nothing new. Women have been doing it with great success for years, and there is a lot of varying opinions on the subject; often, women are instructed to nurse, or employ a variety of alternative inducing techniques, around the clock, and they suckle, pump, or manually express every two hours, even setting an alarm clock to be sure they don’t miss a middle of the night session; unfortunately, many discover that they aren’t producing any faster, or in any larger quantities, than someone who relies on a more relaxed and flexible nursing schedule. Inducing can be very taxing on a woman’s body, and some ladies even suffer from “nursing burn-out”, that terrible feeling of oh, no, here we go again! when the time to induce has come once more.

When I chose to re-lactate nearly six months ago, I knew that around-the-clock inducing wasn’t going to be practical for me. Nursing is a very big part of the relationship I share with S, and a very big part of my life in general, but it isn’t the only part. As much as I would have loved to spend every moment of every day making breast milk, it just wasn’t practical. Eventually, someone would have wanted to eat or wear clean clothes. ;) I wanted to make milk, but I needed to do so in a way that worked for me and my busy lifestyle.

So I improvised.

I did a lot of research on the subject of inducing, and then devised my own milk-making plan. It worked beautifully, and within days, much to our great surprise and pleasure, I was producing breast milk.

The wonderful thing about an inducing schedule is that it is completely flexible. You can nurse as often–or as infrequently–as you are comfortable with in a 24-hour period of time as long as you remember the most important part of the process–regularity. The time that you nurse every day is really the only rigid part of the schedule. Essentially, you are training your body to recognize a need for making breast milk, and you will do this by telling it what time to do so. As you progress through the inducing process, the importance of clocks and strict time-keeping will fade, and your body will begin to remind you that “milk-making o’clock” has come.

The schedule really does get easier as you, your body, and breasts adapt to it–I promise. :)

An example of a rigorous nursing schedule is one provided to me by another reader; she and her husband set a schedule that calls for inducing at 6:00, 10:00, 2:00, 6:00, 10:00, and then again at 2 a.m. Unfortunately, after less than a week, she is beginning to feel the stress of following such a strict timetable, and is concerned that it will negatively affect her ANR.

“The joy is gone. I don’t feel the excitement of nursing any more, but I really want to induce lactation. Any advice or suggestions on what I can do?”

I would recommend a very simple schedule adjustment. If six regulated nursing sessions is simply too much for you or your partner, just cut back. Choose one or two times during the day that is comfortable and convenient, and use that dedicated time as your inducing time. If your brain and body is feeling reluctant about inducing, your breasts will pick up on those negative signals and respond accordingly, and they will not make milk. Surprisingly, believe it or not, breasts have a mind of their own–and they can be stubborn! ;) So, coax them along with a pleasant and rewarding schedule that they can easily work with. This is beneficial to your milk supply and your relationship.

And as for night-time inducing sessions?

Any woman who has breastfed a baby understands the importance of those challenging, and often sleep-depriving, middle of the night feedings when her little one is relying on her to provide the sustenance and nourishment required to thrive and quell those hungry tummy pangs. Nursing an adult is much different. An adult can easily find his sustenance by other means, so late-night inducing sessions are not a necessity. As a matter of fact, fatigue can actually impede the magical milk-making process, so it’s important to get plenty of rest as you work to build a fabulous supply of breast milk. To ensure greater success, try to induce during time(s) when you feel well-rested, refreshed, and ready to take on the day.

Always remember, this is your journey. Do what works for you, do what is right for you, and enjoy the beautiful nursing experience!