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Breastfeeding and Adoption

For biological and adoptive parents alike, breastfeeding isn’t right for every mother. Above all it is always a personal choice. There are innumerable reasons why an adoptive mother would want to breastfeed her child, but the only reasons that matter are the reasons that are important to her. Breastfeeding your adopted child is challenging, and may not be right for everyone. But it can still be done, and there are several ways to go about it.

Providing nutrition to your newborn can happen with store-bought formula, your breast milk, donated breast milk, or a combination of all three. This process is not cut and dry, but if you want to try producing your own breast milk, you will need the same hormonal push that all women need. Breastfeeding an adopted infant can takes weeks, or even months, of preparation. 

  • First, consult a physician. This is a non-negotiable — consulting a professional is vital. Your doctor can help you figure out, based on your medical history, if breastfeeding is the right option for you. In addition to providing supplements or strategies to promote lactation, a physician can connect you with a lactation specialist who can further help you on your lactation journey.
  • One of the options may involve birth control pills. Birth control produces hormones that trick the body into thinking it is pregnant, thus it does not produce an egg. This trick can help promote the beginning stages of lactation. Consult with your doctor before, during, and after taking birth control to create a timeline for when you will transition from birth control to supplements or prescriptions that will continue to promote lactation without harming the breast milk itself. 
  • If you are able to begin producing milk, pumping is a great way to kickstart the lactation process and promote milk production. This is a marathon, not a sprint. In order to produce milk, you must be consistent in your pumping leading up to your child’s birth. Do not be discouraged if your breast milk supply is low — that is completely normal. A fed child is a healthy child. Supplement your breast milk supply with donated breast milk or formula from the store. 

Regardless of whether or not you breastfeed, this is not a process to feel shameful about. If the process or prospect of feeding your child is causing stress, reach out to a therapist in your area, perhaps one that specializes in parenting. You deserve support through this journey as well.

For additional resources on breastfeeding your adopted child visit La Leche League