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Family & Relationships Adoptive Moms Can Breastfeed, Too — But It Takes Tons of Work

16:41  10 august  2022
16:41  10 august  2022 Source:   mom.com

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Sixteen years ago, when I was a newlywed, I was in the emergency room. The doctor burst in, his eyes fixated on my lab work, and proclaimed that he knew why I’d been so ill. I had type 1 diabetes, an incurable autoimmune disease. I would require insulin to live.

During my five-day hospital stay, a diabetes nurse educator visited me and asked what my family plans were. As she shared details on what a diabetic pregnancy might look like (ahem, high risk), I immediately knew that I wanted to adopt. Three years later, I was a mom-by-adoption. Over the course of eight years, my husband and I adopted four children.

People often ask me if I’m sad I’ve never carried a baby and experienced childbirth

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I can honestly say I am not sad about either of those. It wasn’t in the cards for me to have biological children — and I am fully accepting of that. In fact, I embraced adoption with my whole heart. I made up my mind, and I’ve never looked back.

However, the one part of adoption that always bothered me was not having the fairly automatic opportunity to breastfeed. You see, I come from a long line of breastfeeding women. I immediately began researching something called “inducing lactation” when we began our adoption process.

There was very little information on inducing milk production at that time

What I learned is that a pumping protocol, plus taking herbs and prescription medications was the way to go. However, it required round-the-clock pumping — likely for only a few drops. The medications can be difficult to get, and they can also come with some unpleasant side effects.

Moms who adopt often have no set timeline of when their child will arrive — so a mom could be pumping and taking medication for many months, if not years, with no baby to nurse. This is exhausting, time-consuming, and expensive.

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We were chosen to adopt our first child after she was already born. I had learned about nursing by then, but all sudden, I was a sleep-deprived mom with no time to start the process. Our second child, already born, was placed in our arms two years later. Now I had two babies under age two.

I decided that while we waited to adopt a third time, I would commit to inducing lactation

I was a more experienced mom — and I wondered if this adoption would be our last. I got a breast pump from a lactation consultant, along with instructions on what supplements to take when. I pumped every three hours as directed. I was pleasantly surprised when I got drops, fairly early on in my journey. I also poured over Alyssa Schnell’s book *Breastfeeding Without Birthing* — one of the few resources on the subject.

Like every adoption process, there was a big bump in our road. We had every single bit of paperwork done except our very-delayed background checks. Our state was at a background check stand-still. We had no idea when we could even start officially waiting for a child. I was deeply discouraged, so I stopped pumping. I was exhausted from keeping up with my preschooler and toddler, while trying to establish a milk supply for our one day maybe-baby.

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You might be surprised to learn that adoptive moms can breastfeed, though they likely won’t establish a full milk supply. However, the unpredictability of adoption can make inducing lactation difficult. There are tools, such as a supplemental nursing system, which allows a baby to get nutrients from a tube (it runs to a bottle) attached to the mother’s breast.

A third option is to bottle feed a baby while mom and baby are skin-to-skin

All of these options have benefits to the parent-child attachment journey. Finally, some moms choose to comfort nurse their babies — which means the mom may produce little or no milk, but the baby finds comfort is suckling.

Adoptive moms and their babies have options — and only the mom can decide what’s best for her and her baby given their situation. A certified lactation consultant can help mothers who wish to nurse, but moms should know that it’s also fine if their baby is fed by bottle with formula. Choosing to adopt has reinforced to me that truly “fed is best.”

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This is interesting!