Adopting a child is a beautiful and selfless thing to do. Whether you have adopted to help a child in need or to fulfill your dreams to be a mother despite an inability to bear a child of your own, there are countless benefits to adopting. Many mothers choose to adopt a very young baby, so they can create that early bond as if it were their own child. Since babies don’t remember their lives before the adoption, the emotional bonding process is often as easy as with a biological child. However, some new adoptive mothers decide to take the bonding process a step further and actually nurse their adoptive babies. Of course, this would only work if the baby was young enough, but research shows that it is actually possible.

Since so many studies point to the bonding that occurs during breastfeeding, it’s no wonder new moms feel the need to do it with their adoptive babies. It’s a fast track to a long-lasting bond. Of course, without pregnancy, lactation will not happen naturally. Doctors have found ways to mimic the biological processes and induce lactation, but it takes dedication. The induction starts with hormone therapy to raise the levels of estrogen, prolactin, and progesterone. This stage mimics the pregnancy. When real labor occurs, progesterone and estrogen levels drop while prolactin stays the same, and that causes lactation. After these hormone levels have been mimicked by therapy, the new mom would then pump her breasts to simulate feeding and begin lactating. Clearly, this takes months of planning, because the hormone levels won’t be sufficiently raised in a matter of days.

If you are thinking of adopting a child, talk to your doctor well in advance about induced lactation if you’re hoping to breastfeed. Even if you do so successfully, your adoptive child might need supplementation from formula depending on his or her age and level of health. Thanks to modern medicine and hormone therapies, induced lactation is totally possible with the proper foresight and dedication. For many women, the news of an available baby comes quickly and out of the blue, so lactation might not be possible in those cases. However, don’t worry if you can’t breastfeed your adopted baby. Though it’s a great way to bond, your maternal touch and care alone will let your baby know that he or she is your one and only.

Source: Kinga Szucs: Induced Lactation and Exclusive Breast Milk Feeding of Adopted Premature Twins. Journal of Human Lactation Volume 26 Issue 3 pp. 309-313 August 2010

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