Breast Milk

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If you look hard enough, you will find claims that most adoptive mothers who are dedicated will have full milk supplies, claims that very few adoptive mothers produce any milk at all, and everything in between. The truth is, a few adoptive mothers produce no milk and a few produce a full milk supply (defined as enough breastmilk to keep a baby contented and growing normally with no other foods or liquids). The vast majority are somewhere in between. There are so many variables that there is no way to predict what one mom's experience will be. Adoptive moms who have nursed more than one adopted baby even find that their milk production can vary from one child to another.

This can be quite a bone of contention. There are people who insist that if someone thinks they can produce lots of milk they will be able to. Those of us who insist on cautioning against such expectations have been accused of having a bad attitude. This is both puzzling and frustrating. It is EXPERIENCE which has proven, over and over again, that there is alot more going on than just a woman's expectations, or how hard she works at it. There isn't a one of us who wouldn't have loved to have a full milk supply. Many adoptive moms have gone to a phenomenal amount of effort and been as dedicated as they could possibly have been, but the majority have still had only partial milk supplies. Many become very disappointed over this, if they have been led to believe that a full milk supply, or even a nearly-full milk supply, is likely. Some feel guilty. Many feel that they are failures. In my correspondence with many other adoptive moms, I have seen, over and over again, the harmful effects of women being told that if they are dedicated they can have full milk supplies. There are also some who decide not to try it after being told that it is unlikely that they will have any milk at all. But, at least, of those who decide to go for it anyway, the vast majority are happy with the experience. Most produce some breastmilk too.

Take as an example, two hypothetical adoptive mothers (who are composites of actual women I have been in contact with) One is told that nurturing at the breast alone is worthwhile, given accounts of other adoptive mothers who have nursed with a partial milk supply, or even no milk, and told that even a small amount of breastmilk would be very beneficial for her baby. The other is counciled about the benefits of giving a baby only breastmilk, told only about adoptive mothers who claimed full milk supplies and told that, if she works hard, she can probably have a full milk supply too. Both women spend the next month nursing their babies with the Lact-Aid. At the end of this time, the babies are still taking quite a bit of formula, but they are not taking any more formula than when they started nursing, despite the fact that they have gained weight. Some of their soiled diapers show evidence of breastmilk. Both moms can express large drops and an occasional stream of milk.

The mother who was counceled about the benefits of nurturing at the breast and the value of any amount of milk is very happy! She feels confident about her ability to mother her child and takes great pleasure in nursing her little one, knowing that she is doing the best she possibly can for him. Her adopted baby is likely to continue to be nurtured at the breast, and receive enough breastmilk to help keep him healthy, for a long while. The mother who was told mainly of the benefits of complete breastmilk feeding, and that if she worked hard she could probably have a full milk supply, is depressed and feels like a failure. She is likely to decide that it is "not working" and her baby will quite likely end up being totally bottle fed.

Breast milk is SO good that even a small amount in addition to formula can make a tremendous difference in a baby's health. Many babies have come to their adoptive families having already had chronic health problems, which they have found relief from as soon as they started receiving a few ounces of breast milk a day. Such problems include ear infections, chronic constipation or diarrhea and different skin disorders. An adoptive mom who is providing her child with some amount of "liquid gold" has no reason to feel inadequate!

Copyright © 1999-2000 Darrillyn Starr. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Visitor Comments (1)
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Katherine - 9 months ago
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This article was very insightful. It put my mind at ease and helped to take the pressure off as I've just begun dry pumping for our upcoming adoption. #1
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