Monday, March 28, 2011

Inquisition Monday: Adoptive Breastfeeding

I'm Just Saying... asked, "Me and my husband are adopting a baby in August. Keep your fingers crossed for the birth Mom to go through with it. I am nursing Hadyn and she is 20 months old. I want to nurse my new adopted baby. Do I need to take supplements to nurse a newborn ?? Since I am not giving birth I will not have colostrum .. Is that bad.?? Is there something to make my milk better for an infant?? Also how soon before the due date should I take supplements ??"

Congrats! How exciting! *Fingers crossed!*

Breastfeeding an adopted baby has lots of loose ends and different answers for different situations. If you're like me, you probably want someone to look at the situation and then say, "I guarantee this will work out this way..." so there aren't any ambiguities. Unfortunately, that's not possible.

But I will say this: first, I would discuss this with a certified lactation consultant. They should know what questions to ask. My brain is filled with lots of questions about your situation, so here're some of those thoughts that might or might now pertain to you.

The fact that you are successfully breastfeeding at the moment makes me lean towards saying that you'll have odds in your favor for successfully breastfeeding this new baby. It means that in general, everything is in working order: you have developed breast tissue, your supply/demand system is working well and communicating with itself, your body can make the lactating hormones needed. Good things! You're starting ahead of the game!

On the other hand, your baby is 20 months, and by 20 months, it's common for a lot of the breast tissue that developed during pregnancy to have gone back into "hibernation," as it were. That's why you're probably back into smaller bra sizes than you were at 2 months postpartum. So that boost of lactating power is lost and won't normally come back without another pregnancy.

So I would talk to a lactation consultant and see what they say. It might be that hormones will help over the next few months to imitate pregnancy and help re-generate that tissue. Or you might need a supplement for milk supply like Domperidone. Another good resource would be the Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk. I really love that book for supply issues.

Other sites I came across on this topic include: Kellymom's Nursing an Adopted Baby and RelactationNursing an Adopted Baby from LLL's New Beginnings 2006, What You Need to Know to Breastfeeding Your Baby from Adoptive Families, and a book called, Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby and Relactation. There is also a story on page 287 in Adventures in Tandem Nursing that sounds similar to your situation and the mom in that story used a supplemental nursing system (SNS).

One thing that came to me is that since you are working with a birth mother you might be able to work out a colostrum pumping arrangement. In the process of ceasing lactation, it's common for women to pump a little to relieve engorgement (but not too much to tell her body to make more), and if she chooses to do that, she might be able to save what she pumps so you can have some supplemental milk on hand. That might be something you could work out.

I hope that your family will be blessed with this new little one!


  1. That is awesome. Congratulations! ! My only advice is ANY breastmilk (even breastmilk for a 20 month old) is better than formula. So, whatever you can give that little one, even if it's only an ounce a day, is better than nothing, and it's better that that LO would have had otherwise.

  2. As a mom who has induced lactation, I would just add one thing. Don't forget this website: It has lots of articles, protocols, and message boards.

    You can take blessed thistle and fenugreek if you want to (it won't really hurt anything) but those generally serve to increase supply, which I'm sure a newborn will do automatically just due to the frequency. As far as preparing, I would probably start pumping to build up any extra that you can, just to be sure. But that website has a lot of helpful info and people to get advice from.

    Such an exciting time! :)


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