Breastfeeding and Adoption

Archived Responses: 

I need some breastfeeding advice. I plan to seek out any info La Leche League has, but I am also interested in personal experiences re: stimulating breast milk production. It looks as if my partner and I may be adopting, as we're unable to get pregnant. This solution is great - we're both very excited about the possibilities, but don't know much about how easy it is to breastfeed adopted infants. Can I prepare myself so that I can start as soon as we have a baby? How similar is it to pregnany-related production in matters of quality and amount? Also, how likely is it that the baby would accept my milk? Thanks for any information.
From: Christina

I can't speak to your question directly, but do want to make sure you know of Bonnie Bruce of the Bay Area Lactation Center. She's the preemminent lactation consultant in the Bay Area and has 20+? years experience. She has the most wonderful demeanor and knows everything there is to know about breastfeeding. The center is located next to Alta Bates at 2999 Regent Street on the ground level facing the street. Their phone number is 204-9703. If anyone can help you and answer your questions, she can!

From: Meg

Very dear friends of mine adopted a child, and the new mother breastfed her for at least a year--and also used lots of donated breastmilk. I believe she got her milk supply going using herbs (and the baby's mouth), and I'm pretty sure they made extensive use of a little pouch-necklace deal with a slender tube that goes into the baby'd mouth along with the mother's nipple. I forget the name of the device. I'd be glad to pass your e-mail address or phone number and request along to them if you like.

From: Joan

When I adopted my first child (he's now almost 11), I very much wanted to breast feed him. I rented the best breast pump available, and while I was waiting for the time to go get him, I pumped and pumped. After many weeks, I only produced one or two drops of milk. At that point, I made a decision that, although it is possible to run tubes to the nipples (which dispense formula), thus partially simulating breast feeding, I would focus my caring for him elsewhere. This turned out to be the right decision--both my babies were ill and severely underweight when they arrived--off the bottom of U.S. percentile charts--and desperately needed large amounts of appropriate formula more than they needed my emotional desire to nurse them. During each of their first months home, they drank enough to gain one pound a week (which barely put them on the charts...). They both quickly became extremely healthy, and are still among the healthiest kids I know--my daughter has missed 2 days of school since September, and my son, none. I know that some women have better luck with stimulating milk production than I had, so my advice is to go ahead and try pumping. But don't get stuck there if it doesn't work well--the point is to serve your baby's nutritional and emotional needs in the best ways available to you as an adoptive parent. My husband and I found many other ways of bonding with our children--there are excellent resources available about this if you need help with ideas.

From: Heather

This is a World Health Organization paper on inducing lactation:

From: Lori

Re: adoption and breastfeeding - I am part of an adoptive moms group (my daughter is 7 months old) and one of the moms wanted to breastfeed her baby. She worked on this for many months prior to the due date of the baby, but it didn't work for her, unfortunately, and she was really disappointed. I am aware of another couple in which the adoptive mom WAS successful at breastfeeding and found it the most rewarding experience. So just keep in mind that it may or may not work, and be prepared if it doesn't. It takes quite a commitment, by the way, if it does work for you, as there is apparatus (for lack of a better word) that you need to wear to have the supplemental milk and your breastmilk come together at the nipple for your baby to eat.