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Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby
by Susie Hamilton
Breast Pumps Direct
It is possible to give your adopted baby the many benefits of breastmilk and breastfeeding even though he is not your biological child. When breastfeeding an adopted child, all of the breastfeeding basics such as benefits, latching technique, and nursing positions are the same as when breastfeeding a biological child. More information about breastfeeding basics can be found in the article Beginning to Breastfeed.
Health Benefits of Breastmilk – An adoptive child will receive the same nutritional benefits of breastmilk that a biological child will even if received in small amounts. Induced lactation produces mature breastmilk that is comparable to breastmilk produced by biological mothers at approximately 10 days post partum. Breastmilk is easier for babies to digest, and it has antibiotic properties that help to fight against infection.
Emotional Bonding – An adoptive mother and child will be able to enhance the development of their positive attachment relationship through breastfeeding. The skin-to-skin contact during breastfeeding can help to reduce a baby’s stress and give him a sense of comfort and trust.
Two Steps to Adoptive Breastfeeding
- Initiating lactation and building supply
- Teaching the baby to breastfeed
Tips for Inducing Lactation
- Using a hospital grade pump to stimulate breasts every 2 to 3 hours. Hospital grade pumps are stronger and built for heavy usage. Read How Hospital Grade Breastpumps Are Different for a more in depth explaination.
- The process of building your milk supply can take several weeks. It is important to remember that inducing lactation takes patience and a strong commitment.
- Taking domperidone can help your body produce more milk; however, as with any drug there are precautions that you should take before deciding to use domperidone.
Although each mother’s experience is unique, most are able to produce at least some milk when lactation is initiated. In cases where a mother is producing a small amount of milk, a lact-aid or supplemental nursing system can help your baby receive milk while also stimulating your milk production. Protocols for inducing lactation can be found at Ask Lenore.
Getting the Baby to Accept the Breast
Younger babies are generally more willing to accept the breast and learn to breastfeed than older babies (4 months and older); however, their have been cases where older babies have accepted the breast and gone onto successfully breastfeed. Just keep in mind that each baby is different, and there is no way to know if the baby will accept the breast unless you try.
Helpful Tips that will Encourage Baby
- Putting a little breastmilk or formula on your nipple and areola can be helpful.
- Be sure to use effective positioning and latch-on techniques doing so will ensure that your baby receives more milk for his efforts and will prevent you from getting sore nipples.
- Try to nurse when your baby is neither too hungry or sleepy.
- Choose a quiet location for feedings that is free of distractions.
Because inducing lactation and breastfeeding your adopted child will undoubtedly require a great deal of patience and commitment on your part, having a lactation consultant to work with or joining your local La Leche League group can provide you with the support that you will need to help you succeed. As with every mother choosing to breastfeed there are possible obstacles that could occur. Most of the time these are very common amongst nursing mothers and can be easily remedied with proper treatment. Please read our article on Common Breastfeeding Challenges which will help you to identify a problem and guidance for proper treatment.
For more information about adoptive breastfeeding, visit The Adoptive Breastfeeding Resource Website.
Return to: Breastfeeding Basics