If you want to know how to breastfeed an adopted baby, you have to realize that there are practically almost no limits to who can breastfeed. This has been done in many parts of the world. Of course, you lived in area that is stress free, less civilized, then you will probably have more time and chances to make it work. I’ll get more into that later.
For people living in the busy city environment, it is definitely possible, but preparations, and supplementations are mandatory. This can also be done by women who has never been pregnant before.
If you are trying to produce breast milk even though you have never given birth, you are doing something called induced lactation. There has been cases where women has successfully induced lactation even though she has never given birth to a baby before.
Success Story Of A Nurse
There is a nurse has gone through several miscarriages. However, she hasn’t given up on the idea of her having a child, so she ended up adopting one. Her husband wasn’t very supportive of her attempting to breastfeed her adopted child, because it probably didn’t make a lot of sense to him.
She dedicated a lot of time, research, and effort and finally managed to produce small amounts of breastmilk. If you are interested, check out her youtube video here:
Success Story Of A Transgender Woman
This is a story of a transgender woman who has a baby together with another woman. She wanted to join the experience of breastfeeding her baby along with her wife, so she prepared herself five months in advance with pumping and training her breasts. By the time the baby was born, she already frozen 500 ounces of milk ready to be drank. If you want to read that story, you can check it out here:
The idea behind induced lactation is to mimic (copy) the hormonal fluctuations a woman goes through from pregnancy to giving birth. In other words, you are trying to trick your body into believing that you have already been pregnant, then you already gave birth by making your hormone levels copy a pregnant woman’s pattern. This is all controlled by three main hormones. They are progesterone, estrogen and prolactin. It is a very complicated process. In the end, prolactin is the main hormone you need, but all of them are necessary. You will have to discuss this with your gynecologist on how to supplement the hormones
However, having the right hormone pattern is not enough. In order for you to induce lactation you have to constantly stimulate your breasts and nipples with massages, and sucking to trigger the positive feedback on your brain, as if a newborn is already sucking on your breasts. This can be done with plenty breast massages accompanied by manual or electric breast pumps, or with your partner’s help (have him or her suck on your breasts).
In reality, even a woman that actually gave birth to a baby has to go through this process to produce any breast milk. After my wife gave birth Lilyanna, breastmilk didn’t automatically come right away.
My wife couldn’t produce breastmilk for our baby until a week after she gave birth. She went through the same process of having Lilyanna consistently suck on her breasts several times a day before any milk came out eventually a week later. During that period we had to supplement our baby with formula milk. Of course, for your case, you will have to take much longer than a week to produce any breast milk. I will explain why later.
You know you did a good job if you see that your nipples are getting darker, and the areola (the dark circle around the nipple) is getting darker and bigger. The breasts might even feel a little heavier. These are signs that your body is steadily preparing itself to produce milk. If you are still not sure, double check with your gynecologist.
Yes, this can work for women who has already gone through menopause. The main reason is because prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production is controlled directly by your brain, specifically the pituitary gland. Menstruation is controlled mainly by hormones, estrogen and progesterone produced by your reproductive organs (ovaries).
In a normal hormonal cycle, estrogen and progesterone are highest from pregnancy to the moment of giving birth. Once the baby is out, their levels drop and prolactin spikes up afterwards. This is also why a lot of breastfeeding women have slightly lower sexual desire after giving birth. They might even hate sex. It is no wonder because the sexual hormones are at a all time low, and prolactin, the hormone responsible for producing milk is at the max.
Historically speaking, there has maids that serves as breastfeeding tools for their master children in history. It is definitely possible, and there are plenty of cases in ancient China, Nowadays, in poorer countries like Nigeria, there has been cases where women of varying ages successfully breastfeed abandoned children that they didn’t give birth to. These people can never afford hormone supplementation but still managed to do so despite the disadvantage.You can read about that here.
However, these are women who have time to have their babies latch onto their breasts all the time. Adoption is generally a planned event in civilized countries like United States, and Europe. You most likely have to work, or run other kinds of errands all day long. You don’t have time to have your baby latch onto your breasts all day long. Hormone supplementation is probably one of your best options. Ask your gynecologist for more information on that.
If you don’t rely on hormone supplements, then you are basically relying on your body to produce those hormones. They are still necessary to produce any breast milk. Breast milk production requires the complex interaction of prolactin, progesterone and estrogen.
They all play different roles. Estrogen is responsible for developing the milk ducts (milk pipes) where the milk flows through. Progesterone combine efforts with estrogen to make the breasts bigger with more milk ducts. Prolactin is required to produce the milk itself and to stop the production of progesterone and estrogen.
It is unclear whether it is possible for women who work with a busy schedule has the time to induce lactation without hormone supplements. It is best if you discuss this with your gynecologist and get advice from them.
However, even if you have supplemented with hormones, it doesn’t mean that you would produce a lot milk. Your body needs nutrients to produce that milk. Hormones can only take you so far. To get more milk to come out, it is best to supplement with galactagogues.
Galactagogues is a substance you eat from food, herbs, or pills to increase the amount of breast milk you are producing. There are plenty of different foods and herbs that has them.
Examples of herbs and foods that provides plenty of galactagogues are:
- Vegetables that are dark and have plenty of leaves (natural chlorophyll in food is good for breastmilk) like:
- Whole grains – especially oats and oatmeal
- Papaya – Most chinese women use this to increase milk supply. Don’t use the green papaya if you are taking blood thinners like warfarin, ibuprofen or have latex allergies
- Herbs that have plenty of galactagogue:
- Fenugreek – one of the most commonly used herbs for inducing lactation.
- Blessed Thistle
- Goat’s Rue
- Red Raspberry Leaf
- Brewer’s Yeast
- Roots that have plenty of galactagogue:
- Nuts (especially almonds)
- Seeds and spices
One thing I have to warn you ahead of time is to stop using herbs once you produce enough breast milk. Also check for any kinds of allergic reactions you have. Double check with your doctor to see if it is a good idea to take them. Herbs might sound natural, but they do have side effects if not taken with moderation.
From a chinese medicine perspective, there’s another thing I have to warn you about. Don’t go crazy with oily foods, and spicy foods. Your breastmilk will transfer what you eat to your baby. Your baby will get more grumpy if you eat anything that is fried or spicy. Trust me on this one or you will lose many nights of sleep for no reason.
Another thing I have to warn you about is to not drink smoothies. Your baby is indirectly eating your smoothie through your breast milk and that creates major diarrhea. Eating fruits are healthy but don’t go too crazy with it when you are breastfeeding. If you want to learn more about that, read my blowout article here.
When Does The First Drops Of Milk Show Up?
If you have been pregnant before, it is possible for you to relactate within a few days. However, if you have never been pregnant before, then it can possibly take a few months before you see any milk. The reason for this difference is because pregnant women had their breasts and milk ducts developed during pregnancy.
In fact, they had several months to do so. That’s why if you want to induce lactation even though you were never pregnant, it will take at least the same amount of time a woman needs to produce a baby. Of course, there are exceptions, and there are some women that can induce lactation within a few weeks, but it varies from person to person.
As an adoptive mother, depending your body’s health condition and potential qualities, it is possible that you won’t produce enough breast milk even if you had adequate time to prepare for the adoption. This also applies to mothers who gave birth the baby themselves. My mother is a great example. She gave birth to my sister and I, but she didn’t produce enough breast milk for either of us. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to give up.
It is very likely that you will produce at least a few drops of breast milk after going through hormone supplementation, galactagogue support, and manual stimulation. Nevertheless, with any amount of breast milk, feeding it to the baby is still beneficial. Of course, it won’t be enough to make your baby full. In this case, what I recommend is to supplement your breasts with special devices.
That sounds pretty scary, but you are not sticking milk into your breasts. What you are doing is to have your baby suck from your breasts and a special tube (with milk flowing through it) at the same time. While your baby gets to bond with you with skin to skin contact, milk is flowing directly into her mouth through the tube to fill her up. It literally kills two birds with one stone. If you are interested, go look up lactaid nursing trainer on google.
Besides, the whole point of breastfeeding your baby is to bond with you baby and give your adopted the care that her parents didn’t want to give her. The amount of the milk is important but not the main point. I wish you good luck, because inducing lactation requires a lot of effort and dedication. If you have any questions, please leave it in the comments section below.