Adopting a newborn: is lactation induced?

The recent spate of adoption threads got me thinking.

We’ve long been told that breast is best for babies. So, when a woman adopts a newborn, is lactation induced beforehand, or are the babies bottle-fed ab initio?

Typically, adoptive parents bottle feed, although I’ve heard of some mothers trying to induce lactation. I don’t know how often that’s successful.


Hm, I’ve never even considered that an adoptive mother might try to induce lactation. It would take a good combination of hormones to get started, I’d think.

I’d bet the vast majority bottle feed.

Most bottle feed yes, but breastfeeding an adopted infant is common enough that there are a lot of references out there about it.

I don’t have any clue about the prevalence of induced lactation, but it actually can be done without hormones although the use of hormones and hormonally active drugs can make attempts to induce lactation successful more often than not (a couple of sources report success ates above 80%).

With enough stimulation of the breasts (the nipple specifically) any woman can lactate. In fact, when a woman consults an endocrinologist because of unexpected milk production (galactorrhea), one of the first things the consultant ascertains is whether she (or more likely her boyfriend/partner) is overstimulating her breasts.

It’s easier if the mother has EVER lactated. I donated to a milk bank and thats what they told us.
I know La Leche League has a device that will drip like into the babys mouth while it’s ON the breast, inducing it to latch on longer and thus provide more stimulation.

Galactorrhea is an awesome word, by the way. I mean, if you’re going to have a condition.

Sooo…I can start rubbing and stimulating my breasts and milk will come out? How would I go about doing this?

If you have to ask, you’re doing it wrong.

You can probably locate your local La Leche League group and attend a meeting or talk to a leader. They’re most likely the best people to talk to.

They’re commercially available (not just from LLL) and called Supplemental Nursing Systems. They don’t drip the milk, a tube is run into baby’s mouth alongside the mother’s nipple to deliver milk as the baby sucks. They’re useful for mothers in a number of situations, including those who are inducing lactation for an adoptee, or for a baby who was not nursed immediately after birth.

That’s called a “supplemental nutrition system” (“warning”, shows a baby nursing at a bare breast, which may weird out some of the more prudish co-workers who might walk by).

I tried one of these with Moon Unit - who was home-grown, but premature, and therefore had some issues with learning to nurse. In our case it was an utter failure - her nursing got weaker when I finally got the thing working as described (though I was finally able to have success by taping it to my fingertip and feeding her with a fingertip).

I had a boyfriend who couldn’t get enough of my breasts and after a couple of months of heavy stimulation, I was lactating. And that was the first thing my ob/gyn asked me when I went running to his office because I was sure I had some rare breast disease. I was young and had no idea that women could lactate without having a baby.

I looked into this with my son. Its rare that you can produce enough milk inducing lactation to feed a baby without an SNS, but some women do manage it. Its also not uncommon not to induce lactation at all.

There are a lot of internet references out there for it - but in reality, its pretty rare. I’ve known through internet groups of adoptive parents several hundred adoptive families. I only know maybe ten who tried this. And only one who was really successful at it.

Because of this, adoptive parents often find the whole “breast is best” thing sort of offensive. And particularly when strangers come up to them and comment on the bottle.

That’s sad on both sides. Breast is best, but that doesn’t mean that bottle is bad.

Why in the world would strangers think it’s okay to say ANYTHING about what or how a person feeds a child? “You shouldn’t feed that kid bread” would be just as offensive. Some people need lessons in manners.

So does this adopted kid. Well, not so much offensive as :rolleyes: but still. I would have no problem if they were just all “breast milk is a good choice” and trying to get people to just consider it, but the mantra of how it’s best, and implying any other choice makes someone a worse parent just gets old.

It may be best in some, or even most, situations but not always, and it’s not something that should be stigmatizing those who don’t use it. There are things to consider beyond just the nutritional content of the stuff.

Technically, some men can lactate under similar situations too but it is much more rare.

Just like Audrey II!

The thing that non-parents don’t understand about raising a newborn is that people are condescending assholes.

As for the insistence of the breast is best folks, one has to understand that the cultural prejudice against breast feeding in this country was so strong for so long (decades!) and, like any long-lasting prejudice, its effects rippled out, becoming “standard” cultural signifiers, that it still has tremendous subconscious pull, even among those of open mind and in possession of all the facts. The pressure they have to combat is concomitantly enormous. And that makes them really obnoxious. (C-Sections, same shit.)