|Breastfeeding your child effectively|
|Part 24: Breastfeeding your Adopted Baby|
Breastfeeding your Adopted Baby
You are about to adopt a baby and you want to breastfeed him?
Wonderful! It is not only possible, it is fairly easy and the chances are you will produce a significant amount of milk. It is not complicated, but it is different than breastfeeding a baby with whom you have been pregnant for 9 months.
Breastfeeding and Breastmilk
There are really two objectives involved in nursing an adopted baby. One is getting your baby to breastfeed. The other is producing breastmilk. It is important to set your expectations at a reasonable level. Since there is more to breastfeeding than breastmilk, many mothers are happy to be able to breastfeed without expecting to produce all the milk the baby will need. It is the special relationship, the special closeness, the biological attachment of breastfeeding that many mothers are looking for. As one adopting mother said, "I want to breastfeed. If the baby also gets breastmilk, thats great".
Getting the baby to take the breast
Although many people do not believe that the early introduction of bottles may interfere with breastfeeding, the early introduction of artificial nipples can indeed interfere. The sooner you can get the baby to the breast after he is born, the better. However, babies need flow from the breast in order to stay latched on and continue sucking, especially if they have gotten used to get flow from a bottle or another method of feeding (cup, finger feeding). So, what can you do?
As soon as a baby is in sight, contact a specialized lactation clinic and start getting your milk supply ready. Please understand, you may never produce a full supply for your baby, though it may happen. You should not be discouraged by what you may be pumping before the baby is born, because a pump is never as good at extracting milk as a baby who is sucking well and well latched. The main purpose of pumping before the baby is born is to start the changes in your breast so that you will produce milk, not to build up a reserve of milk before the baby is born, though this is good if you can do it.
If you know far enough in advance, say 6 or 7 months, treatment with a combination of oestrogen and progesterone (as in the birth control pill, but without a break) plus domperidone will simulate pregnancy somewhat, and may allow you to produce more milk.
a. Pumping. If you can manage it, rent an electric pump with a double setup. Pumping both breasts at the same time takes half the time, obviously, but also results in better milk production. Start pumping as soon as the baby is in sight, even if this means you will be pumping for 4 months. You do not have to pump frequently on a schedule. Do what is possible. If twice a day is possible at first, do it twice a day. If once a day during the week, but 6 times during the weekend can be done, fine. Partners can help with nipple stimulation as well.
But will I produce all the milk the baby needs?
Maybe, but dont count on it. But if you do not, breastfeed your baby anyhow, and allow yourself and him to enjoy the special relationship that it brings. In any case, some breastmilk is better than none.
Revised January 2000