Tell us about your adoption story…
We were matched for the first time in November 2012 and had two months until the baby was due. At that point, I had no idea breastfeeding as an adoptive mom was possible. The expectant mom, who was in college five hours away, was very health conscious and wanted the baby to have breast milk. She wanted to breastfeed in the hospital and then wanted me to take over as soon as we left. I saw a lactation consultant and began the process.
How did you induce lactation?
I took birth control pills for a month and then started domperidone and pumping. I pumped for the two months while waiting on baby, freezing whatever I could get. At first, it was a few drops every pumping session, then eventually I worked up to 3-5 oz. a day. Unexpectedly, the baby's dad stepped in after birth at the hospital and decided to parent the baby. Even though we had to restart our journey to adopt, I had done so much work and had milk frozen that I continued to pump.
What did it look like to feed this way? Could you exclusively breastfeed?
About a month later, we were matched again with a baby in the NICU. The birth parents had already signed and the revocation period was over. We were allowed to bring my frozen milk to the hospital to feed her and I was given a space to pump and store milk. The lactation consultant came by to help me several times during our stay. I tried a supplemental nursing system (SNS) that uses a feeding tube system, but I wasn't a fan and neither was baby girl. I typically breastfed and then supplemented with a bottle, then pump if there was any left. At the age of three weeks, a week after we met her, baby girl was able to leave the NICU and head home with us. I mostly pumped and was able to get about 7-8 oz. a day, and always offered a bottle of breastmilk after to make sure she had enough. Because I had so much frozen milk, she was able to have only breast milk for about 2.5 months before we started formula. For the rest of her first six months of life, she continued to have one feeding a day of breast milk and formula the rest of the day. I returned to work when she was six months old and quit pumping at that point.
What would you say to other women considering this option?
First, be aware that some expectant moms are 100% against adoptive breastfeeding. If a hopeful adoptive parent knows that an expectant mom is against it, they should be open and honest. Also, understand that everyone’s body is different; some women produce enough milk to exclusively breastfeed. Others, like me, get a little, and some none at all. Don't let milk production define you as a mom. Whether you breastfeed, pump or bottle feed with formula, remember that as long as your baby is getting fed, you are being a great mom. Your child will bond with you no matter what.