So, you want to breastfeed your adopted baby, but a list of unknowns stops you. How do you breastfeed a child you didn’t give birth to? What if you aren’t lactating? Are there any benefits? Is it even possible? The short answer is yes. It is possible for you to nurse a baby that you didn’t give birth to. While not required, breastfeeding your adopted baby comes highly recommended by the American Association of Pediatrics.
Breastfeeding your adopted baby for the first 6 months is the encouraged timeframe, as breast milk not only provides excellent nutrition, but also promotes healthy growth and development. Just make sure that you both of the birth parents’ permission before breastfeeding in the hospital. As the child’s mother, you may continue to breastfeed past 6 months if you so desire.
Encouraging your body to induce lactation is, fortunately, not a complicated process. However, it can take some time, so it’s best to start early. Learn as much as you can about how your body naturally produces milk. Research the process. This can help you understand how everything works, and diminish any anxiety or stress about it.
Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or lactation specialist questions as well. They can give you pointers on when to get started. Other nursing mothers are also great resources. Especially since prospective adoptive parents aren’t given a lot of advanced notice in many cases, it’s difficult to time everything perfectly. Make sure you have at least a good month before your baby is due to arrive to tap into your milk supply. You can buy or rent a hospital-grade breast pump as a way of doing this. You’ll want to ease yourself in slowly, but build up to the point where you are using the pump eight to ten times a day.
How to Induce Lactation
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to give birth in order to nurse a baby. It isn’t the pregnancy itself that stimulates the milk ducts, but rather the act of the baby suckling on your breast. Your hormones dictate milk production. During pregnancy, the increased levels of estrogen and progesterone help prepare your body for breastfeeding by enlarging the milk ducts and alveoli. The hormone responsible for producing the breast milk is called prolactin. When your baby suckles, the pituitary gland responds and raises your prolactin levels, which then creates breast milk.
Granted, it is more difficult for women who have not given birth to produce breast milk, but it is not impossible. It might just take some time. If your body struggles to produce enough milk to meet your baby’s needs, or any at all, there are other options available. These include: using donor milk, finding another breastfeeding mother, or taking a drug called domperidone. Be sure to consult with your doctor or lactation specialist to determine the best choice for you and your baby.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Because you didn’t carry your child in the womb for nine months and get to know him or her that way, breastfeeding your adopted baby could be very beneficial. It provides a way for you to physically bond together, and to offer comfort and reassurance to your newest addition. The skin-to-skin contact can establish trust and a feeling of safety for your child, and can form the beginnings of a relationship between the two of you.
Remember that breastfeeding is more than just providing nutrients. So, if your body doesn’t produce milk, it’s ok. Try not to get discouraged. You aren’t alone. Instead, keep your expectations realistic and enjoy the special closeness that you and your baby share while he or she is attached to your breast, and you are holding them in your arms.
Breastfeeding Your Adopted Baby
The decision whether or not to breastfeed your adopted baby is a personal one. If you are able to, it can be a very special time. But if your body isn’t able to produce milk, that’s ok too. There are many mothers who aren’t concerned with the volume of milk their body creates, and are just happy to have the physical connection. It satisfies the biological attachment they lacked during pregnancy.
There is no right or wrong answer to this. Only what works best for you and your baby.
Adoption Choices of Colorado
For more information on adoption please contact Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can be reached via our website or phone 303-670-4401.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Rachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2011, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.
In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc., Not for Profit 501(c)(3), in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Adoption Choices Inc.
When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.
BabyCenter, and BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board. “Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby.” BabyCenter, www.babycenter.com/0_breastfeeding-an-adopted-baby_8482.bc.
“Breastfeeding Adopted Baby – Not Only Possible, but Recommended.” Considering Adoption, consideringadoption.com/adopting/parenting-an-adopted-child/breastfeeding-adopted-baby-not-only-possible-but-recommended.
“Breastfeeding Your Adopted Baby.” Breastfeeding USA, 1 May 2017, breastfeedingusa.org/content/article/breastfeeding-your-adopted-baby-0.
“Can I Breastfeed My Adopted Baby?” Baby Gooroo, babygooroo.com/articles/can-i-breastfeed-my-adopted-baby.
Iannelli, Vincent. “How to Produce Breast Milk and Breastfeed Your Adopted Baby.” Verywell Family, Verywell Family, 4 Oct. 2018, www.verywellfamily.com/breastfeeding-your-adopted-baby-3858570.