ADOPTION & BREASTFEEDING: A Remarkable, rewarding bond

     After the birth of their first child, Angie and her husband knew that adoption would be something they would seriously consider in their future.  Angie had high blood pressure and gestational diabetes during her pregnancy and knew this would effect her future pregnancies. The couple went on to have one more biological child.  Angie breastfed both of her children  for the first year but doesn't recall having much support or information. "The only support I had was from my husband & I didn't even know what a Lactation Consultant was until I had my first child and met one at the hospital."

     The couple began the adoption process when their children were two and four years old.  Angie had a friend who had an adopted child who she remembers saying that she wished she had known that it was possible to breastfeed as an adoptive mother.  "That statement motivated me to gather information, research & educate myself on the possibility of breastfeeding future adopted children."  Her reasons for seeking information and planning to breastfeed their adopted baby include:  improved bonding, health benefits both short & long term for the baby & herself.

     Angie & her husband met their adopted baby girl just 20 minutes after she was born. "We were supposed to be there for the delivery, but we got stuck in traffic," Angie recalls.  "I had collected donated breast milk but, unfortunately, the hospital wouldn't allow me to give her the donated milk so we had to use formula for her 2 days in the hospital."  Angie did, however, use a supplemental nursing system with formula to initiate breastfeeding.  This is a simple device she learned about through her local La Leche League and a Board Certified Lactation Consultant.  The supplemental nursing system allowed baby to receive the formula thru a small tube attached onto Angie's breast so her baby could latch onto which induces breast milk production.  Angie also utilized a breast pump to increase & maintain milk supply.  "I wish we would have had more time for me to start pumping prior to the birth, but we only had 4-weeks notice.  I think the additional time of pumping would have helped my milk supply be more adequate at the time of her birth."

    Adding to the new challenges during the first weeks of having baby at home, Angie discovered that her baby had a tongue-tie which was preventing her from achieving a good latch which affects milk production.  With a prescription of Reglan & Domperidone from her Lactation Consultant, Angie gradually was able to build and establish an adequate supply of breast milk.   Angie adds, " My biggest goal is to provide enough breast milk to exclusively breastfeed."  So far she has had enough donated breast milk to supplement her own supply, receiving support from both:  "The Eats on Feets" & "Human Milk for Human Babies" groups on Facebook.

     Unlike her breastfeeding experiences with her two biologic children where her breast milk supply was plentiful, Angie has to work at maintaining her supply stating, "It can be frustrating at times, but I am determined to breastfeed her as much as possible."  Angie believes that breastfeeding has dramatically helped with bonding with all of her children.  "The bond is absolutely greater with breastfeeding:  a breastfed baby acts differently than a bottle-fed baby.  They seem to be much more attached to their mother.  it's not easier, but it's much more rewarding."

     To other prospective adoptive parents regarding breastfeeding:  "I would definitely recommend it.  I will say that it's not easy but it's totally worth it.  Every little step toward breastfeeding an adopted baby is a success."  Angie adds that it requires persistence, pumping & putting baby to the breast as often as possible.  When asked what advice she would give to moms planning to breastfeed adopted children she states:  "IT'S WORTH IT!DON'T GIVE UP!   BREASTFEEDING IS THE WAY GOD MADE US TO FEED OUR BABIES!" 

     Angie also adds the importance of seeking resources in your area including International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have training, experience & resources to help adoptive mothers breastfeed their babies. 

Angela & her husband live in Cleveland, TN.  Angela said she would be more than happy to share her experience with other moms.  If you are interested in contacting Angela, please contact me at joswank@gmail.com for her contact information.