Some people might think that the word breastfeeding and adoption don’t belong in the same sentence nevertheless think that it’s a possibility. Not only is it very possible, , but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends whenever possible that all babies be exclusively breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired. It is understandable that sometimes this is not possible however it is important for adoptive mothers to know the option exists even when she doesn’t give birth to her child.
Benefits of Breastfeeding Your Adoptive Baby
Before making a decision to induce lactation or deciding it isn’t the right path for you, it is important to consider all the benefits linked to breastfeeding. Just like with biological mothers, the process can be tiring and frustrating. Along the way you might want to give up, it may just be because it is too time consuming, you are having latching problems or it could be that you feel like you simply are just not producing enough milk for your baby. Just know that a lot of other mothers are going through the same struggles as you are, and whether you decide to continue breastfeeding or you choose a different route, you are not a bad mother. Even though there are a lot of studies that show a multitude of benefits that come from breastfeeding, it may not be the path or even an option for your family and that’s ok too.
The Benefits That Your Child Gets From BREASTFEEDING
Below are just some compelling, research based facts about the importance of breastfeeding for the child in case you do decide to choose this path.
- Immunizations: Human milk boosts a baby’s immune system big time—helping baby fight viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections.
- SIDS: The AAP says breastfeeding plays a role in the prevention of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). The meta-analysis found that breastfeeding was associated with a 36 percent reduction in the risk of SIDS compared to not breastfeeding.
- Eczema: In families with a history of atopy, exclusive breastfeeding for at least 3 months was found to have a 42 percent reduction in atopic dermatitis compared with breastfeeding for less.
- Asthma: Breastfeeding for at least 3 months was associated with a 27 percent reduction in the risk of asthma for those without a family history of asthma and a 40 percent reduction for those with a family history of asthma.
The Benefits that the Adoptive Mother Gains from Breastfeeding
As beneficial as breastfeeding is for your baby, it will also benefit you as their mother as well. Here are just a few scientifically proven facts about how breastfeeding benefits mothers too.
- Breast cancer: The longer women breastfeed, the more they’re protected against breast and ovarian cancer. For breast cancer, nursing for at least a year appears to have the most protective effect.
- Positive Mood: Research has shown breastfeeding to have positive psychological effect for mothers. Researchers suggest that the higher levels of the oxytocin released by breastfeeding contributed to the positive mood.
- Bonding: Bonding is a crucial aspect of adoption, and the hormones released during breastfeeding can facilitate the process. Breastfeeding places you and your baby in skin-to-skin contact, which is important both to your baby’s developments and the attachments between you and your baby.
Preparing Yourself Ahead of Time
Even if you have never been pregnant or reached menopause, it is possible to breastfeed an adopted baby. The process of breastfeeding an adopted baby is called induced lactation. It is possible to gain the benefits of breastfeeding little to no preparation at all, however if you have advanced notice that you will have a baby joining you’re family, you can have a head start on the process. It is suggested that you start a few weeks before your baby is arriving. To prepare you can stimulate you’re breasts by hand or by pump. The pumping massage will induce prolactine which switches on the milk glands in the breasts. Just know that you will produce little to no milk during these pumping sessions. Don’t get frustrated, it can take a month or more of regular pumping to trigger milk production. The main purpose of pumping before the baby is born is to start the changes in your breast so that you will produce milk, it is not to start your storage supply!
Inducing lactation after your baby arrives
If you are a hopeful adoptive mother and are fortunate enough to be present at the hospital when your baby is born, speak with your social worker about your plans to nurse and use their guidance to see if you would be able to begin nursing while at the hospital. Keep in mind; it might not be possible to nurse while in the hospital so turn to your social worker for direction. Getting the baby to latch might be the hardest part but there will be a lactation consultant at the hospital to help you through the process. A good latch means the baby will get more of your milk and will create a lot LESS painful feeding sessions! Just always keep in mind that there more to breastfeeding than the amount of breast milk being delivered to the baby. Think of the intimate relationship you are forming with your new baby, the closeness and the attachment that many mothers are looking for.
If you decide to take the breast feeding route, please share with us and others your tips of the trade! If you want additional information or just want to read another’s persons opinion about this topic, check out our breastfeeding blog that we wrote back in 2010.
Are you having problems breastfeeding as an adoptive mother?? Let’s try and help each other jump this hurdle together!
To learn more about newborn bonding check out our other past blogs that all relate to each other.