Sharing the breastfeeding journey - Co-Nursing and Induced Lactation
Have you heard of co-nursing or induced lactation? It's a process where more than one mother can be part of the breastfeeding experience! Whether you're wanting to co-nurse or induce lactation or are simply curious about it, read here for tips from Medela’s Lactation Consultant for how to make the experience enjoyable and safe.
Did you know that a woman doesn’t need to give birth to a baby to be able to breastfeed? Many mums who adopt or are in a same-sex relationship, where they are a non-gestational parent, can successfully induce lactation. With all the benefits of breastfeeding, along with the unique bond formed between mum and baby, it's no wonder that co-nursing and induced lactation is an option that mums may find appealing. 
A little bit of history on the evolution of breastfeeding
Did you know that for centuries, women who have given birth may have juggled breastfeeding their own, biological child as well as 'wet-nursing' (breastfeeding anothers' child) which has dated back as early as 2000 BC?. It became so popular that, in some countries, there were actual contracts drawn up for wet-nurses to ensure that it was a regulated practice! 
While 'wet-nursing' was born out of necessity, for reasons including mother failing to establish lactation, a mother dying during birth, the reasons for breastfeeding today have now evolved into being a choice for women.
Benefits of breastfeeding for same-sex couples and non-gestational parents
With all the amazing discoveries of the benefits of breastfeeding for both women and baby, there is now the science, medicine, and support to enable mums to breastfeed without having ever been pregnant or given birth.
There are loads of benefits for a woman to breastfeed such as lowering their risk of heart disease, diabetes, ovarian cancer as well as helping to get rid of that extra weight gained during pregnancy. No wonder mums want to be part of the breastfeeding journey!
Tips for inducing lactation
- Reach out to your doctor, midwife, or a lactation consultant. They can help you build a personalised plan based on your goals, connect you to resources, and provide important expert guidance. For some women, your healthcare provider may discuss the option of taking hormones that imitate the hormone levels of pregnancy. These medications are stopped after a short while, tricking the body into sensing that a baby has been born (and thus producing breast milk). 
- It is advisable for the gestational mother to establish a full milk supply before the other mother assists with breastfeeding. This ensures that the gestational mother's milk supply won't be affected or reduced by sharing breastfeeding.
- Approximately 2 months before the date the baby is expected to join your family, introducing a routine of stimulus and expression for your breasts can help with milk production.
Getting support for co-nursing or inducing lactation
With this in mind, there are some important factors you may want to consider and discuss with your partner, with the help of your Healthcare Professional or International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
If co-nursing or induced lactation is something you or your partner would like to try, always consult with your Healthcare Professional and/or International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) for a tailored plan and support throughout this process.
To find an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) near you, visit https://www.lcanz.org/find-a-lactation-consultant/
 Medela USA breastfeeding blog, Co-Nursing: How Two Moms Can Breastfeed Baby, https://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/article/103/co-nursing:-how-two-moms-can-breastfeed-baby, date accessed 5th March 2020.
 Stevens, E. E., Patrick, T. E., & Pickler, R. (2009). A history of infant feeding. The Journal of perinatal education, 18(2), 32–39. https://doi.org/10.1624/105812409X426314
 Medela USA breastfeeding blog, Induced Lactation and Adoptive Breastfeeding,https://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/article/136/induced-lactation-and-adoptive-breastfeeding, date accessed 5th March 2020.