Nursing the Adopted Child

Today many families who adopt an infant are choosing to have the mother nurse their new child.  This choice is made by women and their families for a variety of reasons, including medical research (showing breast milk is the perfect food for a newborn) and the desire to enhance the bonding process through the physical contact between the newborn and mother during nursing.

The process of nursing a child you did not give birth to can be very trying, and it takes a great deal of commitment on the part of both mom and dad.  Nursing an adopted child sometimes involves the introduction of the drug domperidone for the mother a few months prior to the birth in an effort to stimulate the body to begin milk production.  The domperidone is paired with the use of a mechanical breast pump to provide physical stimulation. If the mother is diligent and pumps three or four times a day, every day, in the months leading up to the birth, she will sometimes be successful in producing enough milk to supplement her child’s nutritional requirements.

Another method is to wait until after the adopted child is born to begin pumping so the mother can see the baby.  Seeing the baby, or having the baby in the room, can act as a hormonal stimulant; and paired with the physical stimulation of the pump, sometimes results in a small amount of milk production.  Again, it takes commitment and the mother must pump three or four times a day to be successful in producing milk.  This option has to be done in addition to caring for the newborn. Not everyone is successful at producing milk using either of these methods and it should never be counted on to completely provide for the babies nutritional needs.

A final method in which adoptive mothers can nurse their child is the natural process occurring in her body when she has donated embryos implanted in her womb and carries a child to term through a process called embryo adoption.  The mother can provide her baby with the anti-bodies and nutritional richness provided in colostrum, which is produced by the mother immediately after birth and before she begins producing milk.  Nursing an adopted baby who was born through an embryo adoption is a natural process for those adoptive parents who wish to nurse their newborn.

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