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- American television and social media personality
Earlier this week, Kim Kardashian and her husband Kanye West announced they had welcomed their third child with the help of surrogacy.
But a Snapchat video posted by star, showing a breastfeeding pillow, left many followers speculating if she would actually be able to nurse her new daughter despite not actually carrying her.
According to experts, it is possible for the 37-year-old reality star to breastfeed her new daughter.
It’s all thanks to a process known as induced lactation.
“With preparation and dedication breastfeeding without pregnancy can be possible, although it may prove to be quite a challenge,” explains Liz Halliday, Deputy Head of Midwifery at Private Midwives.
The fact that Kim has already given birth to two children, North, four, and Saint, two, may help with her desire to breastfeed her third child.
“One thing that can make a difference, is whether the mother has previously given birth,” Liz continues. “If so, her body will be familiar with the process of producing milk – this will make reproducing milk for a baby that has been delivered through a surrogate a lot easier, in comparison to a woman who hasn’t previously delivered her own children.”
According to Liz, the natural production of breast milk (lactation) is triggered by a complex interaction between three hormones — oestrogen, progesterone and human placental lactogen — during the final months of pregnancy.
“At the times of delivery, levels of oestrogen and progesterone fall, which allow the hormone prolactin to increase and initiate milk production,” Liz explains.
In some cases medication can be prescribed to women to help stimulate this change in hormones.
But it is possible for Kim to breastfeed without medical intervention.
“Additionally, creating a pumping schedule will encourage the production and release of prolactin – to maintain this, breastfeeding should be upheld for 15-20 minutes daily every day until the baby arrives.”
“However, it is always recommended that women to consult their doctor and a lactation consultant before preparing for induced lactation,” she adds.
It’s possible that Kim has already been preparing to be able to breastfeed her new daughter, by taking steps to encourage milk supply.
“Induced lactation can be supported before baby arrives through a combination of massage and expressing with a hospital grade breast pump featuring initiation software,” explains Sioned Hilton, Medela UK’s Education Manager and in-house Lactation Consultant.
“Often, medication (oestrogen and progesterone) and galactagogues can compliment this preparation too so that supply is stimulated and established ready for when baby arrives. Within a week many mums see breast changes and are excited to discover that they produce breast milk.”
And now that the baby is here, there is lots Kim can do to be able to breastfeed her new daughter.
“Inducing lactation can continue following the birth of baby through lots of skin to skin cuddles, baby suckling at the breast to induce breastfeeding hormones, as well as stimulating with hormones and expressing,” explains Sioned Hilton.
“It can take time for milk supply to build and during this period, mums can supplement baby using the Supplementary Nursing System to use any expressed or donor breast milk, or formula, so that baby can breastfeed exclusively,” she continues.
“It is advisable that all mums are supported with encouragement and reassurance during the induced lactation period by a breastfeeding specialist, ensuring that both mum and baby establish successful breastfeeding.”
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