Adoptive nursing: Finding information and support

My sister-in-law is adopting a newborn and would like to try breastfeeding. How can I help her to get the support and information she needs?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

It is wonderful that your sister-in-law is planning to breastfeed her adopted baby. More mothers today are choosing this option. Induced lactation is the process of stimulating milk production without a recent pregnancy or birth.

At least two to four weeks prior to the baby's due date it is important to begin using a hospital-grade electric breast pump. I would recommend using it with the double-pump kit. She should start out pumping her breasts for five minutes each, about three times a day, increasing length of sessions gradually, until she is pumping each breast for about 15 minutes every two to two-and-one-half hours during the day. About a week before the baby arrives she can begin to include nighttime pumping sessions. It takes around four to six weeks for the breasts to begin producing milk.

Most women are able to produce some breastmilk, but will need to continue supplementing while nursing. Using a supplementer at the breast encourages further stimulation and prevents the possibility of suck confusion (from the baby going back and forth between breast and bottle.) Prescription medications, such as metoclopramide have been used with some success to help increase breastmilk production, though many believe that frequent breastfeeding is still the most effective way of stimulating milk supply.

I would highly recommend working with a Lactation Consultant experienced in inducing lactation. To locate an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) you can contact the ILCA (International Lactation Consultant Association) office. You will be referred to three IBCLC's in your area. You can reach ILCA at:

International Lactation Consultant Association
200 N. Michigan Ave
Suite 300
Chicago IL, 60601
phone 312-541-1710
or fax 312-541-1271
email ilca@erols.com

A Lactation Consultant may put you in touch with other adoptive nursing moms living nearby. This support can be especially helpful to your sister-in-law in the weeks following her baby's homecoming.

Remember that the amount of milk she produces is not a measure of hersuccess. Encourage her to relax and enjoy the intimate relationship she will soon be developing with her new baby. Wishing you the best!

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