Methods and Success Factors of Induced Lactation: A Scoping Review

J Hum Lact. 2020 Nov;36(4):739-749. doi: 10.1177/0890334420950321. Epub 2020 Sep 14.


Background: Induced lactation enables a woman who has not given birth to breastfeed a child. Lactation may be induced through both pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods, although the desired outcome cannot always be achieved.

Research aims: The aims of this scoping review was to assess the different methods used to induce lactation, as well as the factors related to sucking the breast effectively and the production of human milk.

Methods: We searched five databases from June 2019-February 2020 for studies referring to methods and factors related to breast suckling and/or the volume of milk produced after inducing lactation, using the following search terms and Boolean operators: breastfeeding AND induced lactation AND adoptive mothers OR surrogate mothers OR female homosexuality OR non-gestating. The final review included a total of 24 articles.

Results: Pharmacological methods were not always used to produce milk, although breast stimulation was essential. The age of the child, interference due to bottle feeding, breast stimulation, and the support received were important factors in the induction of lactation. There were several factors that may account for the differences between developing and higher income countries in methods of induced lactation and the amount of milk that study participants produced. There was no consensus over whether previous pregnancy and/or breastfeeding experience influenced induced lactation.

Conclusion: Health professionals need to have adequate knowledge about induction methods, the preferences of each woman, and the reasons for inducing lactation, to provide proper assistance. However, the lack of standardization about induction of lactation makes it difficult.

Keywords: breastfeeding; galactogogues; hormones; induced lactation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding / methods*
  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Galactorrhea / drug therapy
  • Galactorrhea / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Lactation / drug effects*
  • Lactation / metabolism
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Metoclopramide / pharmacology
  • Metoclopramide / therapeutic use
  • Pregnancy


  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Metoclopramide