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One Woman’s Story: Breastfeeding an Adoptive Infant

Posted Oct 11 2010 12:00am

Obviously, Eco Child’s Play is a pro-breastfeeding blog. Not only does breastfeeding provide amazing benefits to mother and child, it is also better for our environment .  Often when we post pieces pr0-breastfeeding and anti-formula , we are accused by readers of being insensitive to those who cannot breastfeed.

Although we recognize breastfeeding is difficult for many, and there are certain situations in which breastfeeding is impossible (gay adoption, for example), there are instances when parents have overcome incredible odds to lactate.

Adoption is often cited by our readers as one reason they were unable to breastfeed.  Although I have read that is possible for an adoptive parent to lactate, I had never heard of a specific example.  This weekend, I encountered one woman’s story I thought important to share.

The story reported in iVillage explains:

Patricia Hofmann’s inability to have children biologically didn’t prevent her from breastfeeding.

The Beverly mother adopted her son, William, three days after his birthday on July 31, 2006. Shortly after laying eyes on her infant son, Hofmann held her new baby against her breast and fed him without a bottle…

“All of a sudden we were handed this little baby and being able to place him immediately to the breast made a huge difference. It didn’t feel like this was somebody else’s baby that I was taking care of. It felt like this was my baby,” Hofmann said.

Patricia’s commitment to breastfeeding didn’t begin the moment she saw her adoptive son. She took herbal supplements, like fenugreek, and pumped three times a day.  After two months, she saw her first drop of breastmilk.  Eventually she resorted to prescription medication to help her lactate:

The herbs boosted her milk production to a couple of ounces per day. Hofmann froze her milk in the hope that she’d be able to share it with a baby some day.

After four months, Hofmann added domperidome to her daily routine of pumping and herbs. This medication has long been used to treat stomach disorders but had the side effect of causing lactation. After adding domperidome, Hofmann’s milk production ballooned to upwards of 10 ounces per day.

“The only thing that is missing when you induce lactation is that you don’t get the colostrum in the first couple of days. Other than that, my breast milk is the same as anyone else that has given birth,” Hofmann said.

Some adoptive parents may consider Patricia’s efforts to breastfeed extraordinary, and I am not sure I would resort to domperidome. I do think I would try the herbal supplements and long term pumping if placed in her situation, recognizing supplementation with formula may be necessary.  Is it reasonable to expect every adoptive mother to follow Patricia’s regime?  Probably not, but lactation after adoption is possible!

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