Can You Breastfeed an Adopted Baby?


Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby. There are some specific health advantages to breastfeeding that your baby can’t get from a bottle. Bottle feeding isn’t bad in itself, of course, but it’s generally best to breastfeed if you can. This can become a little bit tricky, of course, when you’ve adopted a baby. Believe it or not, however, it is possible.

How lactation occurs

You need to understand, first of all, what causes lactation. During pregnancy, hormone changes tell your body that it’s time to start producing milk in order to feed your baby. However, your body doesn’t start producing milk in earnest until the child actually starts sucking. Hormones including progesterone and estrogen help the milk ducts to become enlarged, but it is the hormone prolactin that actually makes breast milk. Pregnancy stimulates the first two, but it’s stimulation of the breasts that causes the production of prolactin by the pituitary gland.

How to get started

Understand, first of all, that it’s going to take time if you’re going to try to breastfeed an adopted bay. You’ll need to stimulate your nipples significantly every day, even before you have your baby. Ideally, you’ll do this for a full month ahead of time. Unfortunately, most adoptive moms don’t have that much warning that it will be coming.

Ideally, you want to use a high-quality breast pump as many as 9 or 10 times each day. After a month, this may allow you to produce milk and breastfeed your adopted baby.


You also need to be aware of the fact that you’re not likely to produce as large a supply of milk as you might product if you’d been pregnant. You may need to supplement your breast milk with formula or with donor breast milk.

Still, breastfeeding in this way does give your baby some of the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding. In addition, it can help with the bonding process between mother and child, which can sometimes be somewhat difficult when you’re talking about an adoptive situation.

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