Breastfeeding: Can adoptive moms nurse?

My partner and I will be adopting a newborn and are wondering if nursing is possible for adoptive moms?


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 great that you are planning ahead and are concerned about the health of your baby-to-be. It is possible to help feed your baby with your own milk. Inducing lactation is something that often doesn't even occur to adoptive parents, but it can be done, and it can be very rewarding!

A mother who has never been pregnant or given birth can begin pumping, using a hospital-grade electric breastpump, in preparation for her new baby. It is probably wise not to begin too far in advance.

Darillyn Starr, a lactation educator and writer, who has nursed all six of her adopted babies said, "I have been fortunate enough to produce 25 to 35 percent of my babies' nutrition. Even though they have had more formula than breastmilk, they have been very healthy, without the ear infections, diarrhea, etc. that are so common in formula-fed babies." She also shared that a friend who was never able to express even a drop of milk still considered nursing to be "the most wonderful thing she has ever done." She cautions not to be concerned if, while pumping in advance, you only see a few droplets of milk. It's easy to give up at that time, sure that you will never produce "enough" milk for your baby. Starr says, " It is important for anyone attempting to stimulate milk production in advance to know that it is fairly rare to see more than drops from pumping alone, even for many women who go on to produce a substantial amount of milk for their babies."

Once your baby arrives, she can be put to your breast. Newborns need to nurse at least 10 to 12 times each day. At your breast, she will receive most of her milk from the nursing supplementer in the beginning, but as your milk supply increases you may find she needs less supplement. My very best wishes to you and your family!

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