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Adoption and Breastfeeding

Throughout the years, there’s been a growing trend in the adoption community—adoptive mothers exploring induced lactation as a way of breastfeeding a newly-adopted infant. Should this be something you choose to explore, it should be early in your process, and always with consultation from a physician. Milk production can sometimes take weeks to build up to even supplemental levels, so it is crucial to develop a plan with your care team. 

Currently, there are no FDA regulated drugs for induced lactation. The one most commonly used by mothers, Domperidone, has FDA warnings about the side effects, as they may impact a mother’s physical health. Your doctor should prescribe any medication that you are curious about.

Should you want to explore induced breastfeeding, prescription drugs aren’t necessarily the only option. Some mothers may begin pumping regularly in the weeks leading up to the birth of their baby—the more stimulation, the more potential supply. Mayo Clinic states that with “considerable dedication and preparation,” breastfeeding without pregnancy could be possible. 

Breastfeeding without pregnancy simply may not be possible, and the most important thing is that your child is fed and healthy. The production of breast milk is triggered by the interaction of three hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and human placental lactogen. These hormones can occur with months of hormone therapy, which should be conducted under the advisement and guidance of a physician. 

Skin-to-skin contact is one of the best ways to build that special bond with your newborn. If breastfeeding isn’t possible or of interest, try doing feedings with a bare chest so that the natural warmth and touch that breastfeeding provides comes through. It’s one of the best ways to nurture your child without actually feeding them. 

If you are interested in this path, but a milk supply doesn’t develop, don’t be discouraged. Breastfeeding is a nuanced and layered experience that is both easy and difficult for so many women for so many circumstances. It has nothing to do with a mother’s ability to parent or take care of her child.

If having your newborn on a breast milk feeding pattern is important to you, there are other options, like a local milk sharing program. La Leche is helping facilitate connections with local breast milk banks. They offer advice on finding safe and reputable agencies that follow necessary FDA approved procedures for milk sharing. 

You can feed and bond with your baby in so many ways. We love What To Expect’s thought ideas. However your journey unfolds, stay present and know that your child is unfathomably lucky to have you.