Tell us about your adoption journey!
My adoption journey started when I left New Zealand and went to live in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 2010; I was teaching at an International school. Adoption is very common. I had always wanted to adopt, and felt it was the perfect way to complete my family. I registered at the local orphanage, at the local hospitals, and let it be known via word of mouth that I was hoping to adopt. And of course, I prayed! Several months later, the sister of one of my students gave birth to a baby girl. I was contacted by the guardians (her birth mother was 14) and asked if I wanted to adopt the baby. Of course, I said yes!
When did you know you wanted to pursue breastfeeding?
I was keen to breastfeed if I possibly could, for a number of reasons. I had fed my four biological children and felt strongly that I should at least try. I had heard about it from colleagues at school, and of course, PNG is a third world country where feeding babies -- anyone's baby -- is common. National teachers would happily feed each other's baby when needed.
How did you induce your milk supply?
I started by encouraging my daughter to latch on when she was hungry. I let her suckle for as long as possible each time, and then bottle fed her after. I took fresh coconut milk three times a day as a natural method to encourage milk production/lactation. After six days, my milk started to come in. At first I was really surprised, as it came in quite heavily on my left side, but not the right! It never became consistent enough to be able to solely breast feed, and she still needed two bottles of formula each day but I was pleased my baby was getting at least a little feed from me.
How would you encourage others interested inducing lactation for adopted baby?
If someone else said they would like to try to breastfeed after adoption, I would wholeheartedly encourage them to try. It is a wonderful way to feel closer to your baby (but of course not the only way!) If they find it is impossible, I would encourage them to find other ways of bonding such as skin-to-skin contact, wearing your baby in a sling or wrap, or simply spending as much time as you can together.
The How - Which Method is Best for You?
Jen and Lea mentioned two very different ways to stimulate lactation: hormone and natural. (How amazing would it be to drink fresh coconut milk from the actual jungle to stimulate this process?!) Since most of us get our coconut milk from a shelf vs. a tree, here are some alternatives. A great article from Babble gives an overview of hormone therapy and how it works. In a nutshell, when a woman wants to prepare her body for breastfeeding, she takes estrogen to mimic the higher levels of this hormone that pregnancy brings. Then she discontinues estrogen and starts a prolactin-stimulating med, along with machine pumping or a baby’s suckling. Another more specific approach to hormone therapy is the Goldfarb Protocol, a prescription method developed in 1999 by Lenore Goldfarb and Jack Newman, MD. In addition to an RX, pumping and herbs are outlined to help mom stimulate production. Goldfarb says it takes 2-3 weeks to build the milk supply.
The When - Let the Feeding Begin!
The SNS that Jen mentioned is a common way that adoptive mamas breastfeed, whether their own milk, a donor’s milk, or formula. It’s a simple feeding tube device in which a bag or bottle is worn on mom’s chest. A thin, silicone feeding tube is taped to the nipple with hypoallergenic surgical tape. As the baby sucks the breast, milk flows through the tubes like she would a straw.
This may or may not be a good option for you, and bottles may be the best way to go. If so, mimijumi is known as a breastfeeding bottle, and makes breast and bottle feeding and back again an easy way to feed baby (just ask Ariel about her amazing experience with our Very Hungry baby bottle in her blog post Baby Number 2 Doesn't Make Me an Expert). Our bottles look and feel like mama, reducing nipple confusion and colic. Our safe baby bottle is void of 564 plastic chemicals, helping you feel even more secure that baby is getting the best.
Breast and bottle feeding with a safe baby bottle like mimijumi can be an excellent way to feed your adopted child. We hope you’ve been encouraged by Jen and Lea’s stories. To read more accounts of inducing lactation for adopted babies, check out our fave La Leche League’s archive, and their Group Finder, should you want to connect with other women pursuing breastfeeding. Should you choose to pursue lactation induction, we say good for you and wish you all the best!