Now that your distinctive dream of adopting a child is about to turn into reality, you may feel excited and perplexed at the same time, pondering upon where to begin. Apart from struggling with which colored crib to go ahead with and what décor to set up in the nursery for your child, you may have other serious concerns regarding their upbringing or, most importantly, whether to bottle-feed or breastfeed the infant.
Although it may appear odd initially, it is not impossible to hear upon breastfeeding an adopted child. Breastfeeding an adopted baby is more common than you may guess and extremely helpful for adoptive mothers, provided they are made well aware of the treats and tricks to do it the right way.
Breastfeeding is considered exceptionally beneficial since breast milk contains tons of essential nutrients that help boost overall immunity and brain development. They are also easier for an infant to digest and eventually help to develop a beautiful bond with the mother.
Adoptive breastfeeding is no less than usual, and therefore, there are many things that one should keep in mind before proceeding ahead with breastfeeding adopted babies.
Can I Breastfeed an Adopted Baby?
Many families across the globe plan to adopt a baby but stress over whether they might be able to have the option open for breastfeeding the infant. Breast milk is not only good for providing immunity to the baby but is also recommended worldwide by doctors as the best baby food instead of supplementary milk and other products available in the market.
Now, breastfeeding in the case of adopted babies is possible through induced lactation, although it requires a lot of planning, support, time, and introspection. There are various ways to induce lactation in the mother’s body, even when not pregnant. One of the ways involves tricking the body to produce or stimulate milk by providing it with different cues and symptoms.
However, every mother’s body functions differently. Therefore, while some of them may be able to build up a proper milk supply for the infant, others may not produce enough to sustain the overall needs and requirements of the baby without the help of additional supplements. Although breastfeeding an adopted baby may require investing a lot of time and effort, it is truly rewarding.
Facts about Adoptive Breastfeeding
- Availability of infant formula and feeding bottles at the ease of access has primarily impacted the traditional concept of breastfeeding and how it can be a perfect option for adoptive or non-gestational parents.
- The amount of milk produced during the induction of lactation varies from person to person. While some parents make no milk and others make all the milk their babies need, most will make a partial milk supply. However, even with no human milk supply, a mother can choose to breastfeed their adopted infant human milk stimulated with a nursing supplement, i.e., a bag or a bottle that usually contains the formula carried to the nipple via a tiny feeding tube.
- Although most newer infants are naturally wired to initiate breastfeeding, with gentle care and full-on encouragement, older babies can easily learn to breastfeed as well.
- Some mothers take herbs or medicines to produce more milk, whereas it’s not necessary.
- Interestingly, the composition of the milk produced through the process does not contain any artificial hormones. The only ones that are ever rarely included are estrogen/progesterone before the milk is even produced.
- Additionally, to breastfeed, there is no compulsion to be fertile or even to have ovaries, as a matter of fact. The hormones responsible for milk production, i.e., prolactin, and for milk ejection, i.e., oxytocin, are released from a gland called the pituitary located at the base of the brain.
How to Induce Lactation?
1. Stimulus and Expression
Introducing a separate routine for stimulus and expression for the breasts can be effective in milk production. Start by carefully massaging the breasts for 5-10 minutes every day, several times throughout the day at various intervals.
Next, follow up by using a hospital-grade double electric breast pump for about 10 minutes or more. Thus, this will make your body feel used to the pressure and eventually will begin reacting to the demand for breast milk.
2. Using a Breast Pump
Firstly, investing in a breast pump may be the best option for adoptive mothers. A breast pump allows switching between electric and manual pumping, which makes it more convenient and user-friendly. It is one of the most popular methods to induce lactation, especially recommended by professionals.
However, it may take a toll on the nipples if put a lot of pressure and used for longer intervals. Therefore, start using a breast pump for about 5 minutes initially, slowly moving forward to increasing the time frame accordingly.
3. Reach out to a Doctor
One of the best ways to induce lactation is to consult a professional/doctor to understand and prepare a proper plan. A professional is more qualified to guide you through the process and help you to build a personalized plan based on your goals. They may also help you connect to the resources and inform you about the dos and don’ts.
For some women, doctors may suggest taking hormones that imitate the hormone levels of pregnancy. However, they are prescribed for a limited time, tricking the body into sensing that a baby has been born.
Some adoptive mothers may develop or experience anxiety while inducing lactation and may stress over how much or how little quantity of milk is being expressed. Therefore, this can inhibit milk production due to excessive stress. It is usually recommended to keep the mind free and happy by pursuing different hobbies or, ideally, meditating.
Sensory stimulation is also a great way to help induce lactation and boost milk supply. When a baby breastfeeds, a mother usually receives sensory stimulation, which helps to stimulate the milk flow. Interestingly, oxytocin is a hormone known for causing milk ejection and letdown. Laughter and feelings of romance or happiness in general helps to boost oxytocin to significant levels.
Lastly, applying a warm compress to the breasts before pumping may also be a soothing experience overall, boosting milk production. Thus, breastfeeding an adopted baby might be a wonderful experience and help build and strengthen the precious bond of the mother and her baby.
Laura is a trained primary teacher who takes a profound liking in interacting with and bringing out the best in children. She is also an ISSA certified pediatrician with an extensive practice of over 12 years. Laura comprehends the needs of infants and now compresses her expertise into writing thorough parenting guides to aid new parents.