Question: My husband and I are hoping to adopt a newborn, and I’m planning on breastfeeding using hormone and herbal therapy to encourage lactation. How can we best bring the subject of adoptive breastfeeding up with our child’s birth mother? Have you ever heard of birth moms who have an issue if the adoptive mother wants to breastfeed at the hospital?
Answer: This is a wonderful question! Lifetime Adoption held a webinar last year in which adoptive mom Meredith shared her experience with adoptive breastfeeding: http://adoptionteleconference.com/meredith/index.html
Lifetime Adoption has worked with a few adoptive mothers who chose to breastfeed after adopting. Approaching this with your baby’s birth mother will vary case-by-case. An important thing to keep in mind is that you need to be sensitive to the birth mother’s situation, duration of her hospital stay, and needs in the hospital. Prepare to stay flexible, because even if she agrees to you breastfeeding early on while you’re matched, she may later decide she wants to feed her baby (bottle or nursing.) Or, the hospital may have policies that prevent you from nursing the baby immediately. Your Adoption Coordinator can help you determine how to best approach the topic of adoptive breastfeeding with your baby’s birth mother.
As you get to know your birth mother better, you’ll feel more comfortable with talking about topics such as how things will go at the hospital, what she wants, and what you’d hope. Remember that it’s up to her how things go in the hospital; flexibility is important in those moments.
Many birth mothers will recognize the value in your plans to nurse the infant you adopt. Lifetime Adoption is here to assist adoptive couples in navigating the topic with the birth mother they are matched with, and getting to know her more once she has chosen to match with you. If you are chosen to move forward in a last minute adoption (drop-in-the-lap), you may not have time to take the therapies needed to induce lactation. You may find that your baby bottle feeds for a few days while you walk through the hospital stay and get your body prepared to nurse.
There’s a possible risk that the birth mother changes her mind about adoption, after you’ve began pumping ahead of time or preparing the body to breastfeed. Some adoptive moms decided they wanted to wait until the adoption is irrevocable (birth mother can’t change her mind) before nursing. Others decided to make plans to nurse the baby upon birth. It’s really a personal choice about what you can handle.
Are you an adoptive mother who chose to nurse your adopted baby? Please share any feedback and tips you might have by leaving us a comment!