Adoptive breastfeeding… yes, it’s a thing!

milk

I really prefer speaking about things I know, so this is a little grey area for me.

Part of the reason that I don’t “know” about the topic, though, is that there are VERY few resources for adoptive mommas to provide breast-milk for toddlers so despite visiting the google night after night for weeks, I still felt like I was coming up empty handed for advice on *my* situation.

To take a step backwards, Adoptive breastfeeding is super controversial in the adoption world. I tend to stay away from things that are controversial (except politics.. snort) because as a general rule, I feel like if it upsets even one person and it’s something I can avoid, it’s worth it to not hurt someone with something unnecessary.

The reason that it’s a controversial subject is probably two fold: one, even though we’ve come a long way, breastfeeding in itself is still taboo. Two, when we are speaking about domestic infant adoption, the reality is that there is a mom in town forcing her body to do something that comes naturally to the one who carried the child, and the mom who carried the child is forced to go home and UN-do the natural process that her body went through to feed a child that she is not parenting. That is a lot. All the feelings.  If we were to adopt an infant, it would be important to me to discuss at length the options with baby’s first momma, but DIA is not something that speaks to either of us so I think it’s a bridge we won’t have to cross.

Our situation is obviously different and honestly until I started redecorating the nursery I didn’t really give nursing our little guy much thought. He will come home at 2.5, which is an age that my kiddos were weaned. As I was recovering my rocking chair, though, I realized that while his real age will be 2.5, he has not been in an environment that fostered his development, and after spending 2.5 years in an orphanage, his “true” age is much younger… probably around 12 months, at best.  Additionally, he will be coming to a new country with new everything, including germs. While it’s believed that he is in good health, Down Syndrome does bring some additional concerns. I started to wonder if it may be a good thing to give little guy some momma’s milk to help ease the transition, share some immunity, and provide something for him that most of the other kiddos were given. It’s a tangible thing that I can do in a situation that is almost always out of my hands.

I started to google and there was a lot of information for induced lactation, which doesn’t really apply to me since I have nursed most of my adult life, and for re-lactation after a short period of time.  All of the re-lactation pointers I read talked a lot about the importance of putting baby to breast, which isn’t applicable here. All of the induced lactation tips involved reglan (a medication with loads of side effects) and estrogen, both of which I am unable/unwilling to take. No where was there information on re-lactating, solely for the point of pumping, for a child across the world, without medication. It *could* be because this is a unicorn I am chasing, but it felt like a journey that I could share and maybe help other mommas.

I did learn that six months is an adequate time frame to establish a supply, so went ahead and began this week. Little dude isn’t a newborn, so I am not looking for him to survive solely on milk… just to be able to give him a few cups a day for antibodies and a nutrition boost. I am fully committed but not married to this adventure. If a few months pass and I am unable to continue, I tried and that is enough for me. Plus, it keeps me busy… as if life with all of these kids isn’t busy enough. Instead of fretting over the next piece of the journey that is out of my control, I can focus on the next herb to take and the next time to pump. It puts some of the power back in my own hands and that is comforting.

 

I will update here and there as the process goes on. Right now this is my new schedule:

 

6:30 am, wake up and take fenugreek with my coffee, pump for 10 minutes

9:00 pump for ten

11:30 more fenugreek and a prenatal vitamin, mother’s milk tea, pump for ten

2:00 pump for ten

5:00 more fenugreek, pump for ten

7:30 mothers milk tea, power pump… ten minutes on, ten off, ten on, ten off, ten on.

 

The little ones still don’t sleep well, and the sleep we get is precious. Everything I read said to pump 10-12 times per day, around the clock, every 2-3 hours, but honestly… sleepless nights with little guy will come soon enough. If I can’t make enough to give him by maintaining this schedule, I don’t think I would add middle of the night pump sessions on.

 

I will add some lactation cookies in, though… for the love of Lucas… duh. And because… cookies. Duh.

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