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Adoptive and Intended Nursing - It Is Possible!

Posted on January 25th, 2013 by | 5 views
by Laurie Haessly, MA, RD, IBCLC


Contrary to popular belief it is NOT necessary for a woman to have been pregnant to breastfeed.

During pregnancy a woman's body produces increasing amounts of progesterone, estrogen (via the placenta), and prolactin (via the pituitary). These hormones prepare the woman's breasts for breastfeeding. Once her baby is delivered, progesterone and estrogen levels drop and prolactin levels increase and this results in the woman's milk production or lactation.

A woman who is planning to build her family through adoption or via surrogacy can follow certain guidelines which are designed to mimic what happens during pregnancy and after the birth of a baby. The result for a woman who follows these guidelines is milk production or "induced" lactation. She will actually be inducing lactation and her breasts will begin to produce milk!

Once the milk supply is established, milk continues to be produced on a "supply and demand" basis. Milk will continue to be produced as the baby continues to 'demand' milk. The more often and the more efficiently the baby withdraws milk from the his/her mother's breast, the more milk will be produced by the breast. As the baby suckles at the breast, a signal is sent to the brain from the breast to release oxytocin which initiates the milk ejection reflex (MER) and causes the milk to flow. The release of oxytocin and the emptying of milk from the breast causes the breast to produce more milk. And, so the circular feeding pattern and production of milk continues. Baby eats, breasts empty, breasts fill, baby eats......

Studies have shown that the breastmilk of a mother who has induced lactation is compared to that of a birth mother's breastmilk at 10 days postpartum.

There are two issues in nursing an adopted or intended baby. One is getting a baby to breastfeed. The other is producing breastmilk. It is important for mothers to set their expectations at a reasonable level. Since there is more to breastfeeding than breastmilk, many mothers are happy to be able to breastfeed without expecting to produce all the milk the baby will need. It is the special relationship, the special closeness, and the biological attachment of breastfeeding that many mothers are looking for. As one adopting mother said, "I want to breastfeed. If my baby also gets breastmilk then that's icing on the cake!"

Adoptive and intended mothers CAN breastfeed. The International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) of Virtual Breastfeeding Help provide the "induced lactation" guidelines, technical assistance and support necessary to turn your dreams into reality!


Please visit their website to make an appointment TODAY:

Laurie Haessly, MA, RD, IBCLC

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