This ABRW Adoptive Breastfeeding FAQ was written by Darillyn Starr for the ABRW. Any other copies found anywhere on the Internet or in paper publication are being duplicated without permission. We have tried for several months to ask that our copyrights be respected and can only state that the continued infringements of our rights constitutes a great lack of professionalism on the part of those individuals participating in copyright theft. 

I have never heard of an adoptive mother breastfeeding. Is this something new?

Adoptive breastfeeding is being talked about more than ever, but it is not new at all! Women have been breastfeeding babies they did not give birth to since humankind began! It was quite uncommon, in western civilization, for much of the 20th century, but has continued in developing nations all along, and is becoming more common in western civilization all the time.

Do adoptive mothers produce breast milk?

In most cases, the answer is definitely “yes”! The majority of mothers who nurse their adopted babies produce some number of ounces of breast milk for them.

How do mothers go about nursing an adopted baby?

There are currently several methods that mothers may use to stimulate milk production, no one way is best in all situations. However, any mother can nurture her baby at her breast, whether she is currently producing breast milk or not. Many experts feel that this nurturing is even more important for the adopted baby than breast milk! The most basic technique for nurturing at the breast and stimulating milk production is to get the baby suckling the breast, while providing supplemental formula or expressed breast milk. Most mothers find the use of a nursing supplementer, like the Lact-Aid, to be the most safe and practical method of ensuring that their babies are getting adequate nutrition while, at the same time, stimulating their breasts to produce milk.

Do I have to take medications in order to produce milk for my adopted baby?

No! Many mothers successfully nurse their adopted babies without the use of any sort of medical intervention. However, in recent years, treatment options have been developed, which include the use of medications to induce lactation. The adoptive mother who wants to nurse her baby should educate herself about the various options, and take into account the specifics of her situation, before deciding which course to take.

I may only have a few days’ notice before my baby comes. Can I still breastfeed?

Yes you can! Many adoptive mothers have successfully nursed their adopted babies with very little advanced notice of their arrival!

Since I will not give birth to my baby, would my milk still be good for him/her?

Yes! The contents of an adoptive mother’s milk is comparable to that of a bio mother, after the newborn period. It is nutritionally sound and contains important antibodies to help the baby develop good health.

My baby will be several months old when he is placed for adoption. Can I teach an older baby to nurse?

Yes! Although it does tend to take more patience and creativity, children up to a year old or more have been taught to nurse! Many experts feel that nurturing at the breast is even more important for a baby who has not had the opportunity of  forming a close mother/child bond from birth.

Where can I find more information about adoptive breastfeeding?

Adoptive mothers need the same basic breastfeeding information as any mother who nurses their baby.  They should just allow for the specifics of adoptive breastfeeding, in addition to the basic information.  It is important for the adoptive mother to make use of books, videos, and other resources designed for all nursing mothers.