More and more, adoptive moms are choosing to breastfeed, not only because of the health benefits breastfeeding an adopted baby provides both mother and child, but also due to the bonding experience it promotes between them. Although it can be difficult, most who try it say it's worth the trouble. But is it for you?
How It Works
While hormonal increases during pregnancy prepare a woman's breasts for lactation and feeding, it's the baby's sucking that stimulates milk production and flow. Without pregnancy, milk flow can be encouraged while you're waiting to adopt by regularly using a breast pump. Also, prescription drugs such as Domperidone, herbs such as fenugreek, and over-the-counter supplements such as More Milk Plus may increase the pituitary hormone prolactin, which helps stimulate milk production.
However, moms who pump say that it takes hours of pre-baby vigilance to have any effect. Most women who don't go through pregnancy cannot produce enough breast milk to meet a baby's nutritional needs, and will have to add a supplement.
Many adoptive moms use a supplemental nursing system (SNS), which channels extra food to the baby. A thin plastic tube, which is taped to the mother's breast, is attached to a collapsible pouch filled with formula, which rests on the mother's chest. As the baby sucks, the formula flows through the tube and into his mouth, along with any breast milk the mom is producing. Because of a growing trend toward sharing, donating, and selling breast milk, moms can acquire it to use in their SNS instead of formula.
What to Consider
As you're deciding whether or not to breastfeed, keep in mind that you need:
- Patience: Breast pumps, an SNS, and stimulating herbs or drugs demand a good deal of time, commitment, and tolerance for frustration. Also, your baby might refuse your breast, as some do with birth mothers.
- Support: Your partner (if you have one), family, and pediatrician should be on board with your plans. Without their support, the time-consuming process can be extra stressful. You may also want to speak with a lactation consultant.
- Realistic expectations: With dedication, you can achieve closeness with your baby through breastfeeding. But little to no milk production, the awkwardness of an SNS, or the hope that nursing will substitute for pregnancy may sabotage your pleasure and even hamper your relationship with your child.
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