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Can I Breastfeed My Adopted Baby?

How wonderful for you and your new baby that you want to breastfeed. You can read stories from mothers who have breastfed their adopted babies. Each situation is unique so it is important to educate yourself as much as possible about this exciting endeavor.

Most mothers are able to produce at least a little milk. Whether you have been pregnant before or not does not affect your ability to produce milk. Adoptive mothers may be able to induce lactation by using a breast pump every 2-3 hours, either before the baby comes or after. Some also use a device such as the Medela Supplemental Nursing System or the Lact-Aid Nurser Training System. These both enable you to feed your baby while he is at your breast. This way, your baby gets enough milk while stimulating your body to produce your own milk. The key to all this is that the more stimulation your breasts receive, either by pump or baby, the more likely milk will be produced.

Mothers who have breastfed adopted babies often say that having achievable goals for inducing lactation helped them feel successful in the long run. They also say that breastfeeding has numerous benefits in addition to nutrition.

Mothers who induce lactation vary widely in the amount of milk they are able to produce and in the amount of time required to produce milk. All agree that inducing lactation is a process that takes patience, commitment, diligence and education. Even mothers who have breastfed previous babies may not ever be able to fully breastfeed an adoptive baby. A sensible goal, then, might be to try to provide some, or maybe most, of your new baby's nutrition yourself, while fully enjoying the closeness and bonding that breastfeeding brings. Even if your baby does not breastfeed, you can still hold him for all his feedings (and lots of holding in between!) and foster the same kind of attachment that all babies have for the mommies and daddies who love them.

Attend a La Leche League Group meeting in your area for additional information and support. To find a Leader of a local Group, check out the section of our Web site entitled Finding a Local LLL Group.

Resources for Additional Information

These items are all available from the LLLI Online Store or through your local Leader.

Breastfeeding the Adopted Baby and Relactation: Did you know that induced lactation and relactation are possible? Author Elizabeth Hormann explains how in this book. Some of the topics discussed include: preparation for adoptive breastfeeding; substances that stimulate milk production; beginning breastfeeding with an adopted baby; and sources of support for adoptive parents. Ideal for mothers who wish to breastfeed an adopted baby or relactate, as well as for the health professionals who assist them.

THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, NEW 8th Edition, published by La Leche League International, is the most complete resource available for the breastfeeding mother.

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