Monday, July 18, 2011

Nursing my sweet little man

 When I began the quest to nurse my adopted babies I never in a million years thought I would be where I am now: nursing my son without any supplementation at all. After a painful adoption loss 6 years ago, in which I had brought in my milk, I decided against preparing before a baby was born. So, when Malakai was born I put him to the breast using a Lact-aid and formula and took herbs and Domperidone to bring in my milk. Malakai had some major sucking issues and I stopped nursing him before he was 3months old. With a 13 month old and newborn it was just easier for me to give him a bottle. I was very hard on myself for not being successful at it but, at the time, I had NO support at all.

A year and a half later I began pumping in hopes of nursing our baby boy from Liberia. I knew it would be hard but I was willing to try. Judah was 14 months old when he came home and had major aversions to nursing because his birthmoms milk had dried up when he was 6 months old which prompted her to put him in the orphanage. It became a emotional disaster every time I put him even close to my breast. So, I let it go and he got all my saved breastmilk in a sippy cup for 6 months after he came home.

When we found out about Justus I had 3 weeks to prepare and bought a new, really bad pump that worked horribly. My first suggestion would be to buy a good pump such as a Pump-in-Style or Lactina. You can find them for a good price on e-bay used. Just make sure you buy new tubing. I didn't have much time to pump with having a 1,3 and 2 4-year-olds plus homeschooling an 8-year-old. I pumped twice a day until he was born and had to use the Lact-aid the whole time we nursed except during the night and his first morning feeding(those were blissful times to be able to nurse like a "normal" mom). I also didn't nurse on demand or exclusively and I think that really deterred me from making as much as I could. Using a bottle was really easy and using the Lact-Aid was a pain. At 6 months old, after suffering with severe eczema for 3 months, I listened to his doctors and gave up nursing for good. I was really upset that it hadn't worked, yet again.

So, fast forward 2 years and there is a possible baby on the horizon and I was willing to do anything I could to have a positive and successful nursing experience with this little one. I began pumping twice a day(10 minutes each) 8 weeks before he was born. I did this for 2 weeks without getting many drops at all. I was discouraged. The following 2 weeks I bumped the pumping up to 4 times a day and 15 minutes each time, still not much. Around this time I also began taking Domperidone, a prenatal vitamin, cod liver oil and coconut oil. For the first week I was only taking 2 Dom a day, in the morning and at night. The following week I went to 4 a day (8, 12, 4 and 8) and then the following week I went to 2 pills 4 times a day. At the same time I was also taking herbal tinctures that I had made. The herbs I took were Blessed Thistle, Marshmallow root, Red Raspberry Leaf and Alfalfa. I would also highly suggest you take Fenugreek as well but Jonah asked me not to as it gives me a distinct "odor" that smells like maple syrup.

The month before Canaan was born I was trying to pump at least 6-8 times a day. However, I was not super strict about it and if I was out running errands I wouldn't worry about it. I will say that once you get to this point do NOT leave the house without at least a hand pump. There were many times where I was out and HAD to pump because things were getting a bit painful.

Once Canaan was born I continued to take the Domperidone and herbal tinctures and just a few weeks ago pared down my Domperidone intake to 2 pills a day. I'm not sure I really even need them anymore but I am worried that my supply may dramatically drop without me knowing. I still take the herbal tinctures 4 times a day.

Canaan will be 12 weeks old on this coming Saturday and I have had a large enough supply the whole time to be able to meet his nutritional needs.

Here are some myths about nursing an adopted baby that I have heard:
1) You can only breastfeed if you've been pregnant before. (Uhm, I've never been pregnant!)
2) If you have successfully breastfed a biological baby you will successfully breastfeed an adopted baby. (I know mom's who had an overabundant milk supply with their bio babies not be able to produce more than drops with their adopted babies).
3) My milk is not the same as a mom who was pregnant. (Not true! Besides that colostrum right after birth, an adoptive moms breastmilk is the exact same quality of milk as a mom who is nursing a baby she gave birth to).
4) If I can't give my baby a full supply of breastmilk then I just shouldn't even try. (A baby who gets just TWO oz. of breastmilk a day receives the same benefits as a baby who is solely breastfed.)

Here are some great resources for those of you new to adoptive breastfeeding or those who just want more information!

Bulk Herbs and how to make tinctures Here You can also buy the herbs in bulk from them too, they are the cheapest around.

The Lact-aid you should just have handy in case you DO need to supplement with formula: Research and buy here

Adoptive Breastfeeding resources that I highly suggest you acquaint yourself with if you plan to nurse an adopted baby:

I hope this helps! Feel free to pass along this post to anyone who is interested in adoptive breastfeeding!

Author, Faith W. -  Faith is a God-loving, husband-adoring, homemaking, homeschooling, babywearing, cloth-diapering, knitting, baking, literature reading, adoptive Mommy of seven who LOVES what she does and thanks God every day for His blessings in her life! Website:   Absolutely Normal Chaos


  1. I am always amazed by your dedication to breastfeeding, Faith.
    I birthed my daughter and was completely unable to breastfeed...but you know what? I was okay with it. It was between a sane mommy (and home) and fighting to breastfeed - and sanity won out.

  2. I'm so glad you wrote about this, Faith!

  3. Faith, you are such an inspiration to adoptive Moms who long to breastfeed their little miracles.

    Thank you for sharing your story.


  4. Awesome! I also was able to nurse 3 of my 4 adopted babies-- such a sweet experience.

    Mary, mom to 10