Monday, October 1, 2007

Adoptive Nursing

I have very fond memories of nursing my boys and when Tony was a baby, I learned that adoptive mothers could also nurse their babies because it just took stimulation to produce breast milk.

I was concerned that Amanda would have difficulty nursing because she was three weeks old. After placement, back at the hotel, when Amanda began to fuss, I knew she wasn't hungry because she had a bottle at the agency, so I thought I'd give nursing a try. She immediately latched on and suckled a bit before falling asleep peacefully. I was so thrilled! That was the moment I really felt like she was ours; she was home.

When we had decided to adopt, I was delighted to know there was a possibility of nursing our adopted baby, too. I researched adoptive nursing and induced lactation on the Internet and bought a Medela Pump In Style electric breast pump. I was told that the more time I had to work on building my milk supply the better, so when we were called about a six week old baby in February I panicked. I hadn't started pumping yet. How important was breastfeeding to me? We decided we were still open to this little boy and sent off our profile.

While we waited to hear the outcome, I decided to start pumping. I thought it would be worse to be unprepared for a baby than to pump for several months without a lead. My friend had pumped for nine months for her cleft-palate baby so I knew I could go at least that long. I began pumping every three or four hours for about 10 minutes at a time. Sometimes at night if I happen to wake up.

It took 15 days before I saw one tiny drop. Drop by drop, day by day, duct by duct, I watched my supply begin to build. After about a month, I was saving about 2 oz. per day. After 2 months, I was saving around 4 oz in the Medela breastmilk storage bags. I had been told I wouldn't be able to provide solely for the needs of my baby, but every drop I froze meant I would supplement with my own breastmilk instead of formula once the baby came. In May and June, I was saving between 8-10 oz. per day.

In July, we connected with a birthmom who wasn't due until December and I knew I didn't want to pump for six more months, so I quit. That situation fell through, but we knew it was all in God's timing and I was comfortable with the stock of milk in my freezer.

When I got the call about Amanda, I was guarded so I didn't start pumping right away. But I didn get in a week and a half of pumping in before we went to Texas. This time it only took seven days to produce a few drops of milk. I also ordered a Lact-Aid which is a supplemental nursing system that that allows formula or breastmilk to go through a small tube into the baby's mouth while nursing.

That first night in the hotel when she woke up to be fed, I used the Lact-Aid and things went so well. Amanda nursed perfectly and then slept for three hours at a time. She even slept all the way from Abilene to Dallas and then nursed from the Lact-Aid in Subway. The second night was a little more challenging. We were having trouble with the flow and temperature so she would get frustrated. So, after a stressful night we put it away until we got back to MN. (The filling and cleaning procedures listed in the intructions were time consuming. I've been able to streamline the process and order more units.)

She would nurse while Mike was making the bottle and then nurse herself to sleep. I also tried to pump to help stimulate my supply. At home, she takes my stored breastmilk in the Lact-Aid and things are going much better with that. I use bottles at night when she wakes up or when we go out. I'm still concerned about my supply because the stores in the freezer are being used up quickly, but I'm so glad she is getting the benefits of breastmilk.

Nothing compares to the joy and comfort of nursing together.


TulipGirl said...

Wow! I have great admiration for mothers who do the hard work needed for breastfeeding and adopted child.

Lizze said...

Wow. I'm impressed. I've heard of this before as being a possibility but I've never actually read about someone doing it. My hat's off to you.

Amy said...

AWESOME! I'm an avid breastfeeder and my hat is off to you.

Lysana said...

I saw a post of yours on MckMama's forum on the Blog Frog where you mentioned nursing your adopted daughter, and I had to come check out your blog. I am just so impressed that you made the effort to do this. I know it was a lot of hard work, but I am sure it paid off a lot for you.

Congrats on your little Christiana and your "tie breaker" on the way!

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