Breastfeeding an adopted baby – what you should know



Adoptive breastfeeding is becoming increasingly common as the society moves towards embracing this new idea.  Not only is it possible to breastfeed an adopted infant but more and more mothers are interested in the possibility of fostering new-borns. It can be a rewarding experience for both the mother and her adopted child.

Adoption can be a long process, and makes each placement irrevocable once the birth mother has signed the consent documents. The actual placement will only take place once the adoptive parents have received a written consent and are medically/financially approved by the adoption agency.


 Adoptive Breastfeeding – The Process

While it does require some pre-planning, the adoptive breastfeeding process is not much different from nursing a biological child. The course of the procedure begins weeks or months before the baby is born.

The following seven pointers provide a general know-how on breastfeeding for adoptive mothers.


  1. Consult your doctor

Many doctors might be unfamiliar with the process of adoptive breastfeeding. However, consulting the local gynaecologist is an important first step for any adoptive mother interested in induced lactation.

Since the procedure might involve medications that cause your body’s hormones to change, it is advisable to talk to your doctor and explore all options before dwelling deep into the process of artificial/natural suction.

The doctor must be kept in constant contact once the baby is with you and regularly updated with whatever you are feeding him/her during the lactating period. This is to make sure the experience is easy and healthy for you as well as the baby.


  1. Physiological preparation

Some women who have placed their babies for adoption in recent times have thought themselves incapable of nursing due to certain physiological anomalies. While preparation of the breasts can be helpful, it is important to understand that lactation can also be done without the preparation.

Before going any further, a potential adoptive mother should check if her nipples are naturally inverted or flat or ‘normal’. Having inverted or generally flat nipples does not mean you can’t nurse. In fact, babies throughout the history of mankind have suckled on all types.

In the case of an overly-cautious child bearer, the very first step to keeping your nipples plumbed is by using warm water to clean them. Warm water does not dry out tissues like soap does.


  1. Induced lactation

When you’re studying the various methods for induced lactation, keep in mind the body’s ability to produce milk by the removal of milk from the breasts. Naturally induced lactation via hand pumping can help you increase your milk production several weeks/months before the baby arrives.

On the other hand, if you’re using equipment like a breast pump to generate milk, it is highly recommended to use the best quality pump that you can find in your local stores. These pumps are often available at hospitals, medical supply stores, through online vendors and even popular baby stores.


  1. Birth control pills

The hormones in birth control pills make adoptive pregnancy seem more natural by stimulating the body for milk production. Your personal physician can provide you with the birth control pills rightly suited for your body and a lactating procedure to help you reach your goals.

Once the birth control has done its job, you will most likely be asked by your doctor to substitute the contraceptives with herbal medicine and supplements such as fenugreek (as recommended by lactation experts) to further increase milk production.

However, upon deciding to take medications, your personal gynaecologist must be aware of what pills you are taking and why. It is essential to keep a close check on your blood pressure since the side effects of certain medications can negatively impact overall health; hindering the breastfeeding process as a result.


  1. Milk production takes time

The process of milk build-up in the body can be slow, regardless of the consumption of various, over-the-counter oral supplements. This makes it harder to tell how much milk an adoptive mother can produce. Some women make enough to ward their babies off contraceptives while others are more likely to exhaust their milk reserves by the time the baby arrives.

A lactating mother’s main focus should be on the nurturing experience itself. The milk supply builds overtime, therefore, it is important to be patient and know that any amount of milk production is a success that will benefit your baby.

When the baby doesn’t latch keep working at it until it does. Some babies return to the breast after many months of bottle feeding and might not be persuaded easily to get back to it. Even if you’re not able to draw your baby into latching, you can re-establish your milk supply by pumping into a feeder bottle or cup and providing it to the infant. The process is usually called exclusive pumping.


  1. Donated Breast Milk

Breast milk can make a huge difference in a baby’s developmental process by providing necessary nutrition and numerous antibodies to help them grow stronger and healthier. The low-cost option of donated breast milk is for parents who are willing to do more preparation and screening on their own.

Since premature babies generally do best when they are milk-fed by their biological mothers, the donation privilege is best for those parents who expect to thoroughly screen potential donors during their pregnancy.

Companies like the National Milk Bank is  well known for private milk donation.


  1. Supplement Nursing System

The supplement nursing system (SNS) is a device filled with formula, previously pumped or donated breast milk, used by many adoptive mothers to make sure their baby is getting enough nourishment. The SNS tubes are attached to your chest and when nursing the child, he/she will receive the milk you produce along with whatever is contained in the SNS.

The device is especially for those watchful mothers who are not open to the idea of donated breast milk. The systematic medium can still form a loving, warm relationship between the child and his/her mother.


According to the U.S Surgeon General, breastfeeding facilitates physical and emotional closeness between mothers and their babies; especially adopted ones. With professional consultation, adoptive breastfeeding can be a truly viable option for parents who feel strongly about the baby-benefits of breast milk.


Author Bio: Andrea Bell

Andrea Bell is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs.

Find her on Twitter:@IM_AndreaBell



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