Successful Breastfeeding Stories: Hope Lien

Imagine being able to breastfeed without birthing your baby. It's possible! Hope Lien successfully induced lactation so she could breastfeed her adopted daughter immediately after she was born. Learn more about how Hope prepared her body to make milk for her child. You'll also hear the amazing story of how Hope and the birth mother worked together in the hospital to provide the very best nutrition for baby Estelle.

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    We all have unique breastfeeding challenges. Overcoming those challenges and persevering can greatly empower you on your breastfeeding journey. In this series, we’ll share inspiration stories of breastfeeding women who overcame their personal hurdles.

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Episode Transcript

The Boob Group
Successful Breastfeeding Stories: Hope Lien


Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.

SUNNY GAULT: This episode of The Boob Group is brought to you by Rumina Nursingwear. Hands-free pumping and nursing tanks and bras to support your breastfeeding goals. Visit and save 20% with promo code BOOBGROUP20.

[Theme Music]

LEILANI WILDE: We all have our own unique breastfeeding challenges. Overcoming those challenges and persevering can greatly empower you on your breastfeeding journey. Imagine being able to breastfeed without birthing your baby. Today you’ll meet Hope Lien a mom determined to induce lactation so she could successfully breastfeed her adopted child. This is The Boob Group.

[Theme music]

LEILANI WILDE: Welcome to The Boob Group, broadcasting from the Birth Education Center of San Diego. The Boob Group is your weekly online, on the go support group for all things related to breastfeeding. I'm your host, Leilani Wilde, I'm also an IBCLC and owner of Leilani’s Lactation and Doula Services. Have you downloaded our free new mommy media network app? With just a few clicks you can listen to all of your favorite new mommy media shows on the go. Here’s Sunny with more information about how you can get involved with our show.

SUNNY GAULT: We have some various segments that we do here on The Boob Group I'm sure you’ve heard me talk about them in the past and share some funny things our listeners have said. So we have from our listeners’ segment which is basically is just you telling us what you like about the show or just commenting on an episode, anything that you would normally send to someone kind of like the mail bag for The Boob Group, think of it that way. And we’d love to hear from you guys, any email you have send it our way and we will read some of that on the show.

We have an Ask the Expert segment which is a great way to reach out to lactation consultants and ask your breastfeeding questions and ask your breastfeeding questions. And one of my favorite segments is called “Boob Oops” and it’s where you guys share your funny breastfeeding and pumping stories and we all have them, right.

So sometimes it’s just fun to kind of just sit back and laugh at some of that stuff and so if you’re interested in submitting for any of those segments you can go to our website go to the contact link and there’s a form that you can fill out and send it that way.

But also if you just want to share this yourself as opposed to us reading your story, you can submit via our voicemail line and the number for that is 619-866-4775. Call it you won’t talk to anyone, it will go straight to voicemail and we’ll include that on the upcoming episode and you can tell your story yourself.

[Theme music]

SUNNY GAULT: Okay it’s time for a segment called “Mama Hacks” and this is where you guys are able to submit your interesting breastfeeding and pumping hacks that you guys have discovered while breastfeeding and pumping for your babies. This one comes from Kelly Alison and she writes this on our Facebook page. She says loop two hair ties together slip one end around the flange for pumping and attach the other end to the hook of your nursing bra. She says it’s a cheap way to pump hands free. Can you visualize that?

LEILANI WILDE: Wow I'm just wondering how well it holds the seal. I mean think about it, I mean.

SUNNY GAULT: My concern was its only coming from one angle right…

LEILANI WILDE: Yeah that’s why I said holding the seal, so you can… so I don’t know how that would work. That would be interesting.

SUNNY GAULT: Maybe if you somehow could get, I'm assuming this is a double, maybe not. I guess that she doesn’t say that it’s a double pump. I was thinking it was kind of a double pump than like what… maybe if there was a way to connect the pump in the middle you know what I mean then you kind of creating kind of a little mini bra type,

LEILANI WILDE: I'm visualizing a tie up at the top of the clip where your bra snaps back up, is that what you mean?

SUNNY GAULT: Yes that’s what I think that little if you had a nursing bra on is what I’m assuming. And then at the flange I'm just thinking it would pop it up like it would flip it up you won’t have enough pressure. So maybe what it does you don’t have to hold it as more strongly you can just partially hold it so it’s not like… its maybe it’s not completely hands free, I haven’t really been able to find a complete hands free option like for me. Well I haven’t pumped in a long time but when I was pumping I just, I don’t know I always needed to kind of manipulate the breast more and I never just let it just kind of do its thing. So that’s…

LEILANI WILDE: It’s kind of (inaudible) because you were massaging?

SUNNY GAULT: Not even really I was just more like, if I was, I'm so bad at this but like if I was noticing that not in my mind, not enough milk was coming out, I would want to reposition the flange to make more milk come out or I’d want to like maybe I was kind of pressing it on the sides and stuff like that but it wasn’t like I'm it wasn’t a true massage but anyways, I always had to have my hands on it I never could really go pump free because I felt sorry hands free because I never really felt like I was getting, maximizing the session if that makes any sense.

LEILANI WILDE: Yeah I understand.

SUNNY WILDE: But yeah I mean hey you know try the loop to hair tie together see if it works.

LEILANI WILDE: Yeah take a picture of it. Actually we should have her take a picture of it to show us and send it on the Facebook. Let's do that.

SUNNY GAULT: That’s true. But if you know Facebook’s rules when it comes to breastfeeding stuff so we’ll see. And if you don’t show too much of the breast maybe they’ll let us show it who knows. But Kelly thank you so much for sending this in.

[Theme music]

LEILANI WILDE: Today on The Boob Group we’re continuing our ongoing series featuring moms who have overcome major hurdles to breastfeed their babies. Today we’re talking with Hope Lien a mother of one who lives in Minneapolis Minnesota. Hope has successfully induced lactation to feed her adopted baby and she’s joining us on the phone to share her amazing journey. Thank you for joining us Hope.

HOPE LIEN: Thank you so much for having me today.

LEILANI WILDE: Excellent. So Hope what is induced lactation?

HOPE LIEN: Induced lactation is when a mom has not been experienced the pregnancy in order to breastfeed.

LEILANI WILDE: SO how did you learn about this?

HOPE LIEN: I worked as a birth and post portem doula and a lactation counselor myself and so a few years ago when we decided to just start the adoption process I knew from doing some breastfeeding training myself that I would possible turn this lactation but I didn’t really know I guess the details of that first and what I meant. So I did a little more research and decided to use a few different tips and protocols to induce lactation.

LEILANI WILDE: And how much time did you have to prepare yourself for the… before the baby came?

HOPE LIEN: I had about seven months from the time that we started the process of adoption and so our baby was born and so I spent about six months doing like the medical part of the protocol that I chose and then I started pumping four weeks before she was born which is a little bit shorter than I anticipated having but it worked out well.

LEILANI WILDE: So can you walk us through what that looked like?

HOPE LIEN: Sure, so the protocol that I started working with was the human gold child protocol which uses a combination estrogen progesterone birth control pill and then I also worked with IBCLC who is also CNM and were able to prescribe me (inaudible) I took that simultaneously then stopped taking the birth control before I was ready to start pumping and then that milk came in and then later on during the process of inducing lactation.

While I'm still on birth control I actually discovered another resource and that was a wonderful book called breastfeeding without birthing written by Elisa Shneil. It was the first really comprehensive resource that I came across that had a lot of other protocol option other than the medical protocol and it was really well research space out and I just had a lot of different options to really personalize the protocol and so I kind of used something from her book as well.

I started doing some acupuncture and also got on some different herbs and figured out how to use the hand stimulations as well as different pumping strategies to help all increase my chances of having a greater supply of milk.

LEILANI WILDE: When I regard to taking the medication and then stopping before you started the pumping well is that process… how long did that take before you started doing that?

HOPE LIEN: I started taking the medication in May and then I stopped taking the birth control in October. It was about six months of being on those medications together with birth control and (inaudible) before I started pumping and was only taking (inaudible) and herbs.

LEILANI WILDE: And then you started pumping so when you first started pumping how much did you get?

HOPE LIEN: Well surprisingly at my very first pumping session I did get some drops of kind of like sticky milk, I did not produce colostrum when you induce lactation but it was like a thicker kind of milk almost like honey or something like that and I was really surprised by that because I read from some other people it takes some a little bit longer and so I was really impressed that I had any milk. . .

LEILANI WILDE: That’s wonderful. And then so you were told by a lactation consultant like how to pump like how long you should pump or anything like that?

HOPE LIEN: Yeah I worked with a lactation consultant to kind of determine what some good pumping strategies were, and I also have read about the important to try and pump as often as possible in preparation for having a newborn, so I did kind of collecting some different pumping together in order to pump for at first like shorter session maybe like five minutes but then increasing to like 10 to 15 minute session for the weeks leading up to the baby first milk.

LEILANI WILDE: Okay so a little bit of history you wanted to have a baby and you had tried, is that correct you had tried?

HOPE LIEN: Well we had, yeah we had tried to get pregnant for a while and tried a lot of different natural medicine to enhance fertility and after few years of trying that and it wasn’t happening we just knew that we had, we always had known that we wanted to adopt, and so it just became really obvious that instead of going down an unknown road of different fertility treatment and things like that that we want to do adoption. So that’s how we decided to pursue the road of adoption.

LEILANI WILDE: And what made you decide to breastfeed?

HOPE LIEN: I guess just because of my work and my passion for a lot of like eminent things I guess, I was really disappointed that I wasn’t able to conceive a child and experience pregnancy but I was… it was kind of a relief to know that it would be possible to breastfeed a baby because I felt like that would really healing in a great way, I attach with my baby and something that I could give to her that no one else could really give to her so…

LEILANI WILDE: That’s extra special because you know every mom wants to bond with their baby right and this is an extra special step that you were able to enjoy that maybe some other parents that are adopting aren’t even thinking about or even knowing about is that right?

HOPE LIEN: Yeah and I do feel really strongly that you can bond with your baby and be in touch with the baby without having the best way I don’t think that that’s an essential component. But I definitely think that it can enhance that impact to it and feel really special thing to experience with your baby.

LEILANI WILDE: You are right about that. Because even dads that aren’t breastfeeding right, they get bonding with their babies but it is kind of extra special that you are able to do that above and beyond what most people even know is even available so I think that’s so wonderful that you were able to offer that as an option for you and your baby. By the time that your baby arrived, how much milk were you able to provide at that point?

HOPE LIEN: Well by that time I was pumping about two ounces in a day in about between eight to 10 pumping sessions in 24 hours so it wasn’t a lot, and I knew it wasn’t, I really came early so I didn’t have as much time to pump as I was hoping to have but at the same time because of my background with lactation I knew that babies have really tiny stomachs when they are born and hopefully it can catch up and increase when she will actually be latching and stimulating my supply even more. So I wasn’t too concerned about it even though it wasn’t ideal.

LEILANI WILDE: Okay when we come back, we will discuss with Hope the different obstacles she experienced and how they might be similar to other breastfeeding moms and babies. We will be right back.

[Theme music]

LEILANI WILDE: As you’re listening to this show you might be thinking wow what an amazing story and journey this mom is experiencing and it might bring to mind maybe someone that you know or maybe yourself have experienced an amazing story. Sunny will tell us a little bit more about maybe how they could share that with us.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah absolutely. We are always looking for successful breastfeeding stories to share on The Boob Group it’s just a great way for all of our listeners out there to know that no matter what you’re going through, there’s people out there that have pulled through some amazing situations and you can too. And so we love to share these types of stories and we couldn’t share them without knowing about these stories, right. And that’s where you guys come into play.

If you know someone that has a great breastfeeding stories that they’re really empowered or could empower other mother mothers out there we would love to know about it. You can go to the boob group section on the new mommy media website, go to You can go under the show section just click down to the boob group and we have an online form that you can fill out that just gives us a little bit more information about the breastfeeding mom and a little bit more about her story.

You can nominate yourself that’s fine too and yeah we just want to share these stories and empower other breastfeeding moms out there and yeah that’s a great way to do it just head on to our website.

LEILANI WILDE: Yeah what about our Facebook?

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah I mean you can certainly post something to our Facebook page as well but if you do I'm probably still going to send you over to the website because I do need a little bit more information about the story and maybe it’s some details you won’t want to say to everyone on Facebook, you know what I'm saying.

LEILANI WILDE: But you can reach out that way because so many people have access to Facebook and what is our Facebook…

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah so it’s just I think and again on our website there’s a link directly to the Facebook page too. So…

LEILANI WILDE: Several different ways to get in.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah and you can search for it on Facebook as well just type in The Boob Group and our page will pop up.

LEILANI WILDE: Excellent. So now we’re back talking to Hope about her story. Welcome back to the show. So tell us a little bit more about how your first breastfeeding experience was.

HOPE LIEN: Sure. So my husband and I were invited to be at the birth which was really a very exciting experience for us and so actually I got the opportunity to touch her when she was born that was pretty cool.

LEILANI WILDE: That’s awesome.

HOPE LIEN: Yes I had talked to the birth manager about kind of what would happen after birth and time at the last minute we decided that I would hand the baby to the husband and he will be with her for a little bit and then I head down with her and held her skin to skin after my husband got it.

So I think that was the moment for me that really sunk in like this is really my baby and so we just snuggled skin to skin for a little while and it wasn’t very long before she started showing signs of being interested in eating and we had also talked to the birth mom and talked about a plan for… our plan to breastfeed.

She was extremely supportive and on board with it and actually something like that she felt was one of the reason why I think she picked us as a family. I know that’s very unique and I know not every birth mom feels that was about adoptive breastfeeding but that was our situation so that worked out really well. Yeah so I got to hold her skin to skin and then shortly after that she kind of like a baby would lashing and she latched on and nursed for a while, it was really professional experience and definitely something totally incredible that I would never forget.

LEILANI WILDE: And of course your baby was transferring, milk right, because of all the hard work that lead up to it.

HOPE LIEN: Yeah she was so that was really amazing too, it was really cool.

LEILANI WILDE: You mentioned that you had a little bit of a defense in there and some families going through adoption. Did the birth mother offer any colostrum?

HOPE LIEN: She did actually and even though that was a little bit scary to think about for me I was also really excited and I thought that it was really amazing and such a giving thing she will also give you that because I can't imagine how hard something like that would be to nurse a baby that you know that you’re not going to keep.

So I knew that would be incredibly helpful for giving her something that I wouldn’t be able to give her which was colostrum and just setting her up on the right track for, and having some healthy nutrition and giving her really a super food that would be so beneficial to her in the long run. So we did kind of take turns nursing her back and forth while we still in the hospital so and that worked out really well.

LEILANI WILDE: Did you guys stay in the hospital together, did you share a room or did you just come and visit or how did that work out?

HOPE LIEN: We did stay in the hospital, it was a very small hospital but the staff there was extremely accommodating and they kind of were able to give us like our own little space and so we were kind of go back and forth between rooms and the baby would go back and forth between us and then yeah and we would also spend a lot of time with our birth mom and it was just it was a really memorable experience for sure.

LEILANI WILDE: I looked at your blog and kind of saw some of the pictures and the video that you have I’d like everyone to know that that’s available too if you are okay with it.

HOPE LIEN: Yeah. That’s just fine.

LEILANI WILDE: Yeah that was beautiful. And you could see the tenderness between you and your baby and that birth mom. Very special and your baby is very lucky to have you as a mom and able to do the breastfeeding we love it. What kind of support did you have from your husband your family and your friends during this time?

HOPE LIEN: My husband was extremely supportive and really on board with everything and that was wonderful and I really attribute my successful for a lot to his support because he just was so helpful and yeah was always encouraging and supportive so that was awesome and all of my friends and family were really supportive as well.

No one really had anything negative to say although I think that a lot of them are really skeptical because I don’t think before me they had really heard that that was possible and I don’t think most of them really believed that it could be possible and especially I think a lot of them are kind of thinking this is probably like a phase or and like be what you wanted me to do at the beginning but then after a while you probably will decide that it’s too hard or you know, so I think it surprised a lot of them that I nursed for such a long time and I'm still nursing so yeah.

LEILANI WILDE: That’s… how old is your baby now?

HOPE LIEN: She is 22 months old.

LEILANI WILDE: 22 months good for you.

SUNNY GAULT: That’s how old my baby, I have twins, I have baby girl twins and they’re 20 they just turned 22 months yesterday so I didn’t and I…

HOPE LIEN: Really?

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah and I'm still breastfeeding them too so man now I really connect with your story here and knowing what it’s like to breastfeed a 22 month old.

LEILANI WILDE: It’s a journey, isn't it?


LEILANI WILDE: What obstacles did you face that were similar to moms that breastfeed.

HOPE LIEN: I feel that I had a lot of more obstacles to a lot of moms. I had sore nipples for a while in the beginning I think because it’s just kind of had flat or inverted nipples and so it just took some time for them to kind of be shaped by nursing and then I also had some plugged up set various times and I did always kind of have a low supply off and on. So I never really lost my cycle for a little over the time I was breastfeeding so my supply would fluctuate with my cycle and every time that I would pump seven ounces in one pumping session and there were times that I’d pump one to two ounces.

So I pretty much use a breast supplementary for the majority of our nursing relationship until she was about one year old. Yeah pretty much exclusively fed her at the breast she didn’t get a bottle very often. So I feel happy that I could maintain a nursing relationship with her despite having a low supply. But then I also feel that another common challenge I experience was just figuring out what goals were important to me and my breastfeeding relationship that I wanted to hold onto and persevere through and then what things were not as important as I originally thought that they would be such as having a full supply so… yeah.

LEILANI WILDE: Yeah and I think that’s common and super helpful too for other moms to accept what they are capable and willing to do or their bodies are able to do versus overwhelming yourself and beating yourself down for not being able to do what you thought you should be able to do. So there is every bit of milk is great that we can provide for our baby so it’s…

HOPE LIEN: Yeah absolutely.

LEILANI WILDE: Important to look for the sunshine in all that you can do, right.

HOPE LIEN: Yes absolutely for sure.

LEILANI WILDE: Great so thank you so much Hope for sharing this incredible story with us we are so honored to have you on our show today and we appreciate your willingness to be open with us. For The Boob Group club members our conversation will continue after the end of this show as Hope will share with us how she has influenced others on her road to success. For more information about our Boob Group club, please visit our website at .

[Theme music]

SUNNY GAULT: So here’s a question for one of our expert, this is from Elizabeth Keithner. I have a wonderful new baby boy. He’s almost too good and already sleeps four to five hour stretches at night and he’s only five weeks old. While it’s wonderful that I can actually get some extra sleep I'm worried about how this will affect my milk supply. I tried to pump once a night but I rarely get one or two ounces even though I'm starting to feel engorged.

So far everything seems to be fine, and he is gaining weight and growing like a champ. Also he has a habit of nibbling, our daytime nursing sessions only last a few minutes and they might be close together as every 20 minutes. This had been happening since he was born. If the breast isn't fully drained will that also affect my supply? Right now I try to let him nurse several times on one side before switching then he is nursing for such short periods of time. I’d really appreciate your help. Thanks, Elizabeth.

ANDREA BLANCO: Hi Elizabeth my name is Andrea Blanco and I am an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant from South Florida. Thank you so much for your question, congratulations on your baby’s birth. You sound absolutely in love. If you find your baby going a longer stretch at night then he will have to find a way to make up for the other times during the day. Which is probably what’s going on.

Being able to pump one to two ounces in between that stretch is not cause for concern alone as there are many factor that go into pumping and determining whether it’s a good gauge for how much milk you are making in general. However feeding every 20 minutes for short breast may be his way of overcompensating for something else that might be going on. Like something hindering his ability to transfer milk effectively.

My first suggestion would be to spend a couple of days tracking his feeding patterns and diaper output so that you are able to see what is going on. If he is feedings more than eight to 12 times a day and anything else about his behavior is worrying you I feel like the best cause of action is to see an experienced International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to help determine what is going on and whether it’s just a variation of normal. Mommas like you are very good upon knowing when something is off and I encourage you to listen to yourself on this.

LEILANI WILDE: That wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to The Boob Group.
Don’t forget to check out our sister shows:
• Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• Newbies for postpartum moms during baby’s first year
• Parent Savers for moms and dads with newborns, infants and toddlers
• Twin Talks, for our show with parents of multiples.

Thanks for listening to The Boob Group: “Your judgment-free breastfeeding resource.”

This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though information in which areas are related to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, Medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.

SUNNY GAULT: New Mommy Media is expanding our line up of shows for new and expecting parents. If you have an idea for a new series or if you’re a business or organization interested in joining our network of shows through a co-branded podcast, visit

[End of Audio]

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