Adoptive Breastfeeding

Before we even married, Drew and I knew we wanted to {adopt}. We didn’t know when or from where, but we knew God placed the desire on our hearts and trusted that He would make it possible at the right time. After the birth of our first child, Isaiah, the Lord called us to serve as missionaries in Uganda for a year long fellowship with International Justice Mission from 2012-2013. We knew that this was also the time that God was opening up the door for us to adopt and in October of 2012 we brought home our second child, 6 month old Eloise Ann.

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After nursing Isaiah until he was 14 months old and {loving} it, the one thing that saddened me about adopting our next child was thinking that I would not be able to breastfeed him or her. It had been such an incredible bonding experience with Isaiah and I wanted to experience that with our next child. Also, knowing that our child would most likely come to us malnourished to some degree, I wanted to be able to provide him or her with the best possible nutrition: Breast Milk!!!

My desire to nurse our adopted baby started a journey of research into {adoptive breastfeeding}. I found out that it was {possible!} and I got to work. I started the process to induce lactation in the beginning of February, 2012 and by the time we brought Eloise home and she began nursing in the beginning of November, 2012 I had not only worked up to a supply of producing 35+ ounces a day but I had also successfully taught my 6 1/2 month old baby girl (who had been exclusively bottle fed up to this point) to nurse! God is awesome!

I breastfeed our sweet Ellie bean until she was 16 months old and cannot begin to express the amazing amounts of healing and bonding that took place because of our nursing relationship.

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The day we brought sweet Eloise home!
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After 1 1/2 months home. Look at the rolls! Breast milk did this girl well! =)

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16 1/2 months old. Just before she stopped nursing.
 
 Below I’ve outlined how exactly I induced lactation and what the process looked like for me. If you are interested in adoptive breastfeeding and would like more info feel free to shoot me an e-mail at: drewamhutch@gmail . com. You can also check out the website Asklenore.com for lots of great information!
  • Describe the method you used to induce lactation.

It is possible to induce lactation without the use of medication. However, most adoptive mothers who induce this way {do not} produce a full milk supply. To some adoptive mothers, a full supply is not important. They simply want to provide a little breast milk and enjoy nursing part time. My goal was to produce as much breast milk as I could and hopefully be able to exclusively breastfeed our adopted child. Thus, I induced lactation using the regular Newman-Goldfarb protocol. Details on the protocol can be found here:http://asklenore.com/breastfeeding/induced_lactation/regular_protocol.shtml.

In early February 2012 I began taking Ortho-1/35 birth control (with no placebo week) and 20 mg of Domperidone 4 times a day.  I continued this for 5 months. In early July of 2012 I discontinued the birth control pill and upped my Domperidone to 30 mg 4 times a day. I added 3 (390mg) capsules of Blessed Thistle and 3 (610 mg) capsules of Fenugreek to my daily does of pills! I also began pumping with a double electric pump. I pumped every two hours during the day and twice during the night. It was a HUGE time commitment! Within a day I had drops. Within the first week I was producing 3-5 ounces a day! By 8 weeks I had built up a full supply of 35 ounces a day and had a freezer FULL of frozen breast milk! Now all I needed was my baby!

  • Was Drew supportive of your decision to breastfeed an adopted child?

Drew was incredibly supportive! From the very first time I brought up that I would like to nurse our adopted child he was all on board. And he very graciously listened to me gripe and complain during the 3 months that I pumped every two hours before we were able to bring Eloise home ( I was pretty sick of pumping that much by the end). When we first brought Ellie home she was six months old and refused to breastfeed.

During the week before she latched I remember Drew telling me while I was feeding her a bottle one night that, “This just doesn’t look right. You shouldn’t be feeding her a bottle, you should be nursing her!” It was then that I really knew how much he supported my decision! And, as a side note, I think it’s quite cute that he thought me feeding our daughter a bottle didn’t look right because I’m sure to everyone who saw me breastfeeding it didn’t look right that this pale, white mama was nursing a beautiful, brown baby! =)

  • What challenges did you face?

The greatest challenge I faced was actually getting my daughter to latch. I had a great supply (35+ ounces a day!) but our daughter was 6 months old when we brought her home and she had been exclusively bottle fed her entire life and had NO interest in breastfeeding at first.

Not only did I have the issue of getting Eloise to nurse but I also had the issue of getting her to accept my breast milk in a bottle! She was being fed cows milk with HEAPING spoonfuls of sugar in it at her orphanage. So, she was very unsure about drinking breast milk, even from a bottle (thank goodness breast milk is sweet but it wasn’t quite sweet enough!). She was also being fed from a bottle with a very, very large hole in it so that the milk would flow out quickly and feeding time would be short. This also contributed to her rejecting nursing at first because the milk didn’t come out as fast as the bottles she was used to.

Our first goal was to get her on very slow flow bottles of breast milk. We started out with adding a little bit of sugar to her bottles of breast milk. Once she accepted that we went to straight breast milk and she found out she loved it. She also found out that the milk would indeed come out of a slow flow bottle and she began to accept it – score! After a week of her accepting breast milk in a bottle but still refusing to nurse, I decided to try breast feeding with a nipple shield. This did the trick! She latched on immediately and nursed for 30 minutes! After three days of using the nipple shield she transitioned to straight breastfeeding and never looked back!

  • What were the benefits of adoptive breastfeeding?

Adoptive breastfeeding helped me bond with sweet Eloise. When I first started the process of inducing lactation I knew I wanted to try to breastfeed our adopted child to offer him or her the nutritional benefits of breast milk (especially since I didn’t know what kind of poor nutrition he or she was going to come to us having received) and to help the baby bond to me as their adoptive mother. What I didn’t know at the time was that our daughter was going to have an amazingly smooth time bonding to us, but it was going to take me longer to bond with her! But being able to nurse her just as I did Isaiah helped incredibly in my process of bonding to her.

  • What advice would you offer an adoptive mother who is considering breastfeeding?

I am 100% in support of adoptive breastfeeding!! But I do like to caution a women considering it with two things. The first is that not {all} women produce as much as I did. {MOST} every adoptive mother can produce something but the amount you will produce depends on many factors such as if you have had previous biological children, how long it has been since you breastfed your last child, what your milk supply was like with your biological children, your age, the amount of time you are able/willing to put into the protocol, what type and amount of medication you choose to take, and any medical conditions you may have. I was able to bring in a full supply of over 35 ounces a day but this is on the high end of what most women are able to produce. Some women produce more but most produce less. However, it’s important to remember that ANY amount of breast milk you are able to provide to your adopted child will be beneficial. Just make sure you don’t set your expectations too high only to be disappointed at what you are able to produce.

The second thing to take into consideration is the age of the child you are adopting. Weigh the incredible amount of time, effort and even money you must put into preparing to breastfeed an adopted child against the likelihood that they will latch on and nurse (as well as how much you care if your child actually latches on or if you are ok with simply providing them the benefits of your breast milk in bottles). If you are adopting an infant I strongly recommend considering adoptive breastfeed without hesitation. But the older your adopted child is, the less likely they will nurse if they have only had bottles in the past. Of course each situation and child is different. Most babies under 6 months old can be taught to nurse even after having had only bottles but some can’t depending on their history (were they abused, starved, have trust issues etc). But babies 6 months and above have less likelihood of beginning to breastfeed for the first time in their lives. Since we brought Eloise home at 6 months old, I knew it wasn’t guaranteed that she would ever learn to nurse (since she was bottle fed for 6 months) but she was still young enough that I had a chance (and she did!). But a baby 9-12 months old may not easily or quickly or ever learn to nurse, so go into it with an open mind and less expectation if the baby you plan to adopt is a bit older.

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