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Miraculous Milk: Nursing Your Adopted Infant

March 6, 2018
By Sarah Smith - Contributing Writer , OVParent

We always knew we wanted to adopt. And when we began our adoption journey in February 2016, I learned that adoptive breastfeeding was a "thing." This is an oversimplification, but it boils down to a woman inducing lactation either from exclusively pumping or from taking a particular regimen of medication along with pumping.

To me, this was amazing - and even a little bit miraculous - to know that a woman's body can supply milk for her baby, even though her child didn't come from her body. And it's possible even if a woman has never been pregnant before. Seriously amazing.

I definitely wanted to give it a shot. The opportunity to have a nursing relationship with my third child and offer the health benefits of breast milk was a strong motivation for me to pull out the pump and strap on.

Article Photos

Baby Sawyer with his mother, Sarah

I had breastfed my two older biological children, so I decided to bypass the meds and see if exclusive pumping would do the trick for me. So I began pumping several times a day, and after a few weeks, drops of milk started coming in. It was working! As the weeks and months went on, I was producing about 7 ounces of milk each day, just from pumping.

When our son was born in August 2016, I nursed him for the first time after we left the hospital when he was three days old. He latched immediately. We had a great start. A few days later, I started using a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) to give him a little more milk while also keeping him at the breast so my supply could continue to grow.

Eventually I stopped using the SNS (although looking back, I wish I had stuck with it longer). We nursed, then supplemented with a bottle of breast milk. Naturally, my supply dwindled as he became accustomed to a bottle, so I began searching for donor milk. I was shocked and delighted at the number of women willing to share their milk with my baby. We received milk from local friends, from friends who live halfway across the country, and from trusted people we met through milk sharing sites like Eats on Feets and Human Milk 4 Human Babies.

My desire was to give my son breastmilk for a year, which felt like a lofty goal. At the times when our freezer stash was getting low, I added a little formula to his bottles to help stretch the breastmilk until we received another donation. But incredibly, the milk kept coming and we made it to exactly a year.

I'm so thankful for the bond that we shared through our nursing relationship in his first few months of life. And I'm beyond thankful for the many generous mamas who gave us the gift of their milk.

Sarah Smith is a native Iowan who moved to Wheeling five years ago with her husband, Preston. They have four children.



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