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How to Breastfeed an Adopted Baby

Learn how to breastfeed an adopted baby from lactation consultant Melissa K. Nagin in this Howcast video.


Although many might not know this, it is entirely possible to breast feed an adopted baby. Even if you've never given birth before, and there have been no signals sent to your body that you should start producing milk, we can easily train your body to do that. With adoptive mothers when we find out that they want to breast feed, we start working on a regiment of pumping regularly. And we do all the herbal remedies that we would do for low milk supply. We have them drinking plenty of water. We start some fenya (?). We have them drinking mother's milk tea. But the pumping we have to do every three hours during the day, to start tricking their body into thinking that they need to produce milk.

In other cases, we might end up putting them on domperidone, which is a medication to increase supply. But in many cases, it's an issue of really the, it's the simulation and it's the constant pumping. And, yes, it's a lot of work but it absolutely can be done. And the babies who come to adoptive mothers that are very, very young, or maybe sometimes if the adoptive mother is actually at the hospital when the baby is born, even better, that we can start nursing them immediately.

The older the baby, obviously, a little bit, a little more difficult it's going to be because they are not going to know how to latch on. They're not going to have been through that.They'll been bottle fed since day one. But the earlier and the younger the baby, and the earlier that we can get started with the process of increasing, or teaching your body to produce milk is key.

In many cases, we will use a supplemental nursing system which a series of tubes that attach to a bottle of either formula or breast milk. The bottle of milk hangs around the mom's neck and the tubes come out, and they attach to the nipples. So, we can latch the baby on, so the baby is actually stimulating supply at the same time that they're receiving milk. And so, overtime the body starts to learn that it needs to be producing, and it causes less frustration for a baby if the mother's milk supply is low. And in many cases, we also do this for moms with very very low milk supply.

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