I never dreamed as little as six months ago that today I would be writing an article journaling my experience with adoptive breastfeeding. My husband and I spent three years trying to conceive before we began working with an adoption agency. The doctors never found any reason why we could not have kids, but after numerous treatments, and never a single pregnancy, we finally decided it was time to pursue other options.
While dealing with the emotional struggle that infertility brings, I was reading a book that made mention of the fact that it was possible for an adoptive mom to nurse her baby. I clung to that truth as a ray of hope, and it ultimately helped me adjust to the idea of adopting rather than having biological children. I desperately wanted the close mother-child relationship that is so often talked about, and though I couldn’t conceive, didn’t want to miss out on anything else with my child. I wanted to nurse my baby. I started researching adoptive breastfeeding while we completed the application process with the adoption agency. I read many books, talked with many doctors and lactation consultants, and was generally disappointed by the lack of information available on the subject. Then I found the ABRW site. Talking with experienced moms and others like myself who were just starting out was just what I needed. Additionally, it was so relieving to be able to discuss issues in a forum where I knew I would be understood – many of the other women on the site had also dealt with infertility.
After much research and discussion with my husband, we decided I would try to induce lactation using only domperidone and possibly fenugreek. I just didn’t feel comfortable with the birth control pills. After a little over seven months on the waiting list, we received the call we were waiting for – a Birthmom was interested in our profile! The agency stressed that there were no guarantees, but since she was due in only three weeks, we decided to begin inducing lactation. I rented a Lactina breast pump, and began pumping about 3 times each day for 5-10 minutes. A few days later the domperidone arrived and I began taking it. Within four days of beginning the domperidone I began to express drops. The drops turned into streams, and within a week or so I was spraying milk at each pumping. By the time we picked up our three day old son, I was pumping six ounces of milk a day in 3-4 pumping sessions.
Our son was finger fed in the hospital and took to the breast immediately. I continued taking the domperidone, and when our son was 2 ½ weeks old, I added fenugreek to my routine. I really can’t say if the fenugreek made a big difference. I was not pumping, and had little way to gauge the results. I weaned off the fenugreek by the time he was 3 months old.
In addition to the support that I received through the ABRW, I also worked closely with a couple of wonderful lactation consultants. I was able to weigh my son weekly at their office, and even weigh him before and after feedings to judge the amount of breastmilk he was receiving from me. He was gaining as much as a pound a week for awhile, and, even now, continues to gain an average of 8 ounces a week. All of these things combined to give me the support and confidence that I needed to begin weaning him off the supplementers, and by the time he was 6 weeks old, I had a full milk supply and was not supplementing any more.
Now, my son is 5 months old, and I am beginning to wean off the domperidone. I have no idea if I will be able to do so and maintain a full milk supply, so I am taking it slowly and carefully monitoring the entire process. Only time will tell what the future holds, but regardless whether I wean completely off meds or not, breastfeeding my son has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.