You have an adoption plan, and you want your baby to be healthy and happy with his or her adoptive family. You know that breast milk is a wonderful food for a newborn. However, it’s important to know that it is very uncommon for a birth mother to breastfeed. Breastfeeding can cause significant emotional challenges for the birth mother who is preparing to detach from the baby and for the adoptive parents who are preparing to bond with the baby.
The desire to breastfeed might also be an indicator that in your heart you want to parent. If you’re seriously thinking about breastfeeding the baby, this would be a good time to talk with an experienced counselor to make sure adoption is right for you and your baby. Here are some things to think about with respect to breastfeeding, and of course, you should consult with your doctor.
The Physical Process of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is an activity that helps a mother bond with her new baby. When a mother breastfeeds, her body releases oxytocin and prolactin, two hormones that help her bond with her new baby. While breastfeeding immediately after birth does give your baby the antibodies present in the first milk, or colostrum and helps your body release the placenta, it’s important to consider both the benefits and drawbacks of breastfeeding your newborn.
Some birth mothers choose to breastfeed immediately after birth or may breastfeed the baby for the first week or two of the child’s life, while the adoptive family is present in the state. However, the bonding process that happens between mother and newborn while breastfeeding could make your eventual separation from the baby more emotionally challenging. If you’re concerned that your baby will not have access to breast milk, know that there are human milk banks available to adoptive families as well, should they choose to go that route.
Choosing to Pump
Pumping milk is a way to reduce engorgement after having a baby. Engorgement happens when your breasts produce more milk than is required for your baby. If you are not breastfeeding, you could be uncomfortable during this time and need to pump or hand-express milk to relieve the soreness. You can pump simply to relieve some of the pressure on your breasts, although it is good to taper off so that your breasts gradually reduce the amount of milk you are making.
Some birth mothers have a very open relationship with the adoptive family and choose to pump milk for their baby so that the child can have the benefit of drinking breast milk. Others might choose to pump and donate to a milk bank that gives milk to premature, sick, or adopted babies.
Choosing to Bottle Feed
Both pumping and breastfeeding will encourage your body to continue to make milk for the baby, so you will have the hormones and milk flow connected to breastfeeding for a longer time than if you and the adoptive parents decide to bottle feed the child from the beginning.
Bottle feeding is a way to feed and nurture a newborn baby, but since it doesn’t trigger hormones in the same way that breastfeeding does, if you choose to hold and connect with your baby, bottle feeding may feel emotionally less challenging. This is also the way that the adoptive parents will likely feed your baby. However, holding your baby will still make you feel connected to the baby, and so you need to decide how comfortable you are holding and feeding the baby.
Different birth mothers make different choices when it comes to feeding the new baby. You may choose to have the adoptive family take over feeding of your newborn from the very beginning, you might choose to nurse the baby once or twice, or you might choose to have an ongoing and open relationship with the family and pump milk for the baby. The choices you make depend on what you and the adoptive family think is the best choice for you, your baby, and the baby’s adoptive family.
Having an adoption plan is a great start to ensuring your baby will have the future you want for him/her. But you will be required to make lots of important decisions that can have long-lasting effects. Senior staff at Family Formation includes a birth mother, an adoptive mother, an adoptive sibling and a surrogate mother. We have been in your shoes and we understand. Contact us today with any lingering questions you may have. There is never any obligation.
Breastfeeding Basics: http://www.breastfeedingbasics.org/cgi-bin/deliver.cgi/content/Anatomy/physiology.html
Mothers Milk Bank: http://mothersmilk.org/milk-recipients/