A commentary by Hudson
Reprinted with permission from The StarGate Libraries
Although I am not in the medical or research field, I have read extensively about how the female body produces milk, particularly about the body chemistry and hormonal balances necessary for lactation and breastfeeding. I don’t have all of the answers, but I will try to share what I know.
Everyone knows about the milk essential hormones prolactin and oxytocin; however, there are at least nine hormones involved with lactation and milk ejection, (milk ejection being breast feeding). These hormones must not only be present, but must be in the correct balance to lactate. This is true regardless of whether lactation is the result of pregnancy and childbirth, or the result of having been induced. The principal hormones necessary for lactation are progesterone, estrogen, prolactin, certain growth hormones, ACTH (adreno-cortic-tropic hormone), THS (thyroid stimulating hormone), oxytocin, FHS (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). There are others that play a lesser role in lactation and breastfeeding; however, these are the principle hormones involved.
Most of these hormones are regulated autonomically, and as long as you are healthy and maintain a balanced diet, there is no need to focus on them while inducing lactation. As is often discussed, the hormonal balance to be concerned with while inducing lactation is the levels of progesterone, estrogen, prolactin and oxytocin. Particularly progesterone and estrogen if you are post-menopausal.
When a woman is pre-menopausal, all of the hormones involved with lactation and breastfeeding will generally regulate themselves in response to physical, emotional and psychological stimuli. In pre-menopause, a woman’s body has all of the tools necessary to lactate and breastfeed, regardless of whether or not she has ever been pregnant; however, when a woman is post-menopausal, it becomes more difficult to regulate the balance of progesterone and estrogen. Often, (but not always), it is necessary to take supplements to balance these two hormones.
With this said, when post-menopausal, it is not always necessary to supplement progesterone and estrogen to maintain good health. In some cases after menopause, a woman’s body seems to somehow compensate for the loss of normal ovary function. Although somewhat rare, some women never experience the emotional/physical symptoms of menopause, (hot flashes, mood swings, headaches, etc.). In smaller amounts, both estrogen and progesterone are produced normally in organs other than the ovaries. Adrenal glands, some nerve tissue (particularly nerve tissue in the brain), abipose (fat) tissue and mammary glands also produce progesterone and estrogen. For some women, apparently their body can compensate for the loss of progesterone and estrogen after menopause by increasing production of these hormones in other areas of the body. However, this is the exception, not the rule. Most women will find it necessary to, in some way, supplement these hormones after menopause.
Supplemental progesterone and estrogen does not always have to be in a form of drugs or medication. These hormones are also found in certain foods in the form of both bio-identical and phyto-hormones. Diets that include foods such as certain varieties of yams, (not sweet potatoes), soybeans, egg yolk, cow’s milk and cheese made from cow’s milk, certain legumes (lintels, pinto beans, lima beans, mung beans, etc.), fenugreek, alfalfa and carrots can help reduce, (and sometimes eliminate), the need for supplemental progesterone and estrogen in drug/medication form. Phyto-hormones are organic compounds found in plants which the human body can convert into needed hormones.
As a woman grows older, (particularly after she passes menopause), some degeneration of the milk cells in her mammary glands is to be expected; however, in almost all cases, there will be enough healthy milk cells left to produce at least some milk. When a young woman reaches childbearing age, her mammary glands contain up to 4000 individual alveoli, (milk producing cells). It would be a rare case where a woman’s mammary glands have deteriorated to the point where she could not produce at least some milk. When a woman’s mammary glands have deteriorated to this point, it is likely she will have other health problems as well. If you are healthy, and your breasts are healthy, you should not concern yourself as to whether or not you are physically capable of producing milk. When a woman has trouble inducing lactation, the problem can usually be traced to a hormonal imbalance caused by mindset, particularly, a lack of self confidence in her ability to produce milk outside of pregnancy and childbirth.
If you are pre-menopausal and healthy, (with a balanced diet), you do not need Dom, (Domperidone), or any other drug to lactate and breastfeed: your body is completely capable of producing milk from its own resources. You are a woman, and lactate is what the female body does! If you question in any way your ability to produce milk, you have inhibited your ability to induce lactation. Just thinking, “I wonder if I can induce lactation?”, is doubt, and doubt is lack of self confidence, and lack of self confidence is a major inhibitor of inducing lactation. Lactate and breastfeed is what women do. Don’t question your ability to produce milk: just accept that normal women lactate and breastfeed!
However, if you are post-menopausal, you will likely have to balance progesterone and estrogen externally to successfully induce lactation. The best way to balance these hormones is through a diet of natural foods. If you primarily consume processed foods, (commercially prepared foods/fast foods), God only knows what additives and preservatives may have been added that will inhibit lactation. Just because the food manufacturer/processor tells you their food is healthy, that doesn’t mean it is. When inducing lactation, a diet of selected natural foods, prepared by yourself, is best.
As I said, there are at least nine hormones that must be in the correct balance to successfully induce lactation and breastfeed. Domperidone only increases prolactin, and does nothing to improve the balance of the other eight milk essential hormones. If the rest of your hormones are not in the correct balance, Domperidone will not help you lactate. If you are taking Domperidone, and producing milk, then the rest of your hormones must be reasonably well balanced, and being the case, you likely do not need Domperidone to lactate. Think about it.
Whether taking Domperidone or not, (and lactating as the result of childbirth, or lactating as a result of having induced naturally), prolactin is produced only by the pituitary gland. Domperidone its self does not contain prolactin, rather it increases prolactin secretion by the pituitary gland by blocking the dopamine receptors at the pituitary gland. When inducing lactation, a health problem with the pituitary gland that would inhibit a woman’s ability to produce milk is an extreme rare occurrence. If you have a problem with your pituitary gland, you will know it. The pituitary gland is the master gland of the endocrine system, and if it is not healthy and functioning correctly, you will be sick. And your doctor will tell you that you have a problem with your pituitary gland. If you are not sick, and your doctor has not told you that you have a problem with your pituitary gland, then your pituitary gland is capable of producing all the prolactin you need to lactate and breastfeed. A healthy, a woman does not need Domperidone to lactate and breastfeed.
If you are healthy, and cannot produce milk without Domperidone, the problem inhibiting your milk is possibly insufficient diet, (not supplying the nutrition necessary for lactation), or more likely, mindset. While most of the hormones necessary for lactation and breastfeeding are autonomically regulated by the endocrine system, the pituitary gland, (which produces both prolactin and oxytocin), is directly regulated by chemical neurotransmitters produced by the brain. And chemical neurotransmitters produced by the brain are regulated by thought, emotions and mindset. Thought, emotions and mindset are the triggers for milk production and milk flow.
Domperidone overrides the normal function of the chemical neurotransmitter dopamine, and forces the pituitary to produce more prolactin. However, the effectiveness of Domperidone is limited. Women using Domperidone to induce lactation usually produce no more than one or two ounces of milk in a 24 hour period. Those women who are producing more than one or two ounces of milk while taking Domperidone, it is likely their brain/body is producing the additional milk, overriding the effectiveness of Domperidone. Unfortunately when this is the case, the woman’s mindset has often become dependent on Domperidone, believing she cannot produce milk without the drug. Mindset is this controlling of milk flow. When it comes to lactation and breastfeeding, a woman’s body will do what her subconscious believes.
I’m going to stop here before going deeper into mindset. If you have a reasonably good diet, a relatively stress free daily routine and adequate rest, and you cannot produce milk without Domperidone, your problem is most likely mindset. Also, if you are post-menopausal, Domperidone will not do a thing to help improve the balance of progesterone and estrogen. If you are taking Domperidone and producing milk, you do not have a hormonal balance problem. If you want to get off of Domperidone and produce milk naturally, you are going to have to start reconsidering your own mindset. Who you are, and how you see yourself as a woman. Women lactate and breastfeed because that’s what women do, not because of any drug.
On a side note, there is one other hormone that could be inhibiting your milk, particularly if you are post-menopausal. Even though in smaller amounts, the proper balance of testosterone is necessary for the good health of a woman. If your testosterone is too high, it will inhibit your milk; however, this is a rare condition. In women, testosterone affects sex drive/libido, bone/skeletal health, pain levels, and in some cases, cognitive health. This is only a side note because it would be unusual to have a problem with testosterone, but it should be noted that it is possible
With Regards, Hudson