Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby


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Many adoptive mothers bottle feed their babies because they believe that’s the only choice they have. While we applaud all adoptive parents, regardless of how they choose to feed their babies, the truth is that adoptive parents are often able to breastfeed their adopted children through relactation or induced lactation.

The process doesn’t work for everyone, but many adoptive mothers, including those who have never breastfed or even been pregnant, are able to breastfeed their babies. Nearly all women lactate and produce breast milk on some level. Here are some of the techniques used by adoptive mothers to increase lactation to the point that they can provide at least some of their baby’s nutrition through breastfeeding:

  • Using a breast pump. Adoptive mothers should ideally begin using a breast pump every two to three hours before the baby arrives. If baby is already here, you can still start. The more stimulation your breasts receive, the more likely you will be to be able to produce enough milk for baby’s nourishment.
  • Lact-Aid. The nurser training system basically allows baby to feed at your breast while receiving formula through a tube while is attached to your nipple. In a best case scenario, this will help you to lactate while still offering baby adequate nourishment. In a worst case scenario, you will still be able to enjoy the bonding and closeness of feeding baby at your breast. While the formula does not offer all of the health benefits of breast milk, it does offer the opportunity to give you and your baby many of the emotional benefits of breastfeeding.
  • Medela SNS: The supplemental nursing system, or SNS is similar to Lact-Aid. The difference is that Medela was specifically designed to help adoptive mothers lactate. It can also be used to give baby supplements both short term and long term as needed.

If you decide to try to breast feed your adopted baby, you are to be highly commended. One word of caution, though. You need to understand that it can be a trying experience, and often frustrating. Don’t be hard on yourself if you aren’t able to produce enough breast milk to supply all of baby’s needs. Consider joining a breastfeeding support group to keep yourself encouraged.

Most adopted mothers can produce at least some breast milk, but very few can produce enough to give baby all of the nutrition she needs. Know that every little bit helps, and you are doing a very good thing for your baby.



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