Breastfeeding an Adopted Child

Many women dream from childhood of having a baby and caring for it. As you grow and reach the age of motherhood you may develop certain attitudes on what you feel is the best way to care for your baby. In the area of feeding your newborn you may determine that you would rather breastfeed then bottle feed for its proposed health benefits. As circumstances and situations occur you may have trouble for multiple reasons to conceive or carry a baby to full term. In this case many people will turn to adoption, but with this option you may believe the some of your previous choices are “out the window”, but that is not true. For instance in the area of breastfeeding it is still possible even with an adopted child.

Back in ancient days and times infants were often nursed by women who were not their biological mothers. These ladies were known as milk mothers or wet nurses. This may have been done due to the mother having problems producing milk on her own, or that her social status deemed it inappropriate, and a job for another. As we became a more industrialized nation this practice became more and more rare.

Since the adopted mothers body has not naturally went through the changes to support milk production, she will have to undergo induced lactation. This is simply when a woman’s body is prompted for lactation with medical interventions. Normally this occurs be the use of medications. Two of the more common drugs to induce lactation are Motilium and Reglan. The drugs help the body to develop and maintain breast milk. These drug regimens are usually began within a few weeks of the adopted child being born so the mothers milk has time to develop.

There are some herbal supplements that have shown to be effective in assisting with milk production so a mother can breastfeed. Items such as:

Milk thistle

Red raspberry





Asparagus racemosus

A nursing mother to be should consult a physician on the appropriate supplements and doses she should be taking. As with any supplements taking incorrectly can have serious negative side effects for the body.

Once an adopted mother gets milk production to form, she will need to do the same things as a biological mother would do to keep an adequate supply of milk to nurse her child. An adopted and breastfeed baby will share in the benefits that any naturally born infant to a mother would.

If an adopted mother is not totally successful alone supplying her baby with the full nutrition that it needs she can supplement feeds with the SNS or supplemental nutritional system lactation aid. With this method a syringe is filled with either formula or expressed breast milk, it is positioned on the mothers body either neck or breast then a small thin tube is attached that will be placed along side the breast in the babies mouth and as the child nurse on the breast it is getting the adequate nutrition and bonding with mother at the same time.

The journey to successfully breastfeeding an adoptive child may be a little difficult at first, but can be extremely rewarding for the mother and child.


La Leche League International