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Q&A:
Is an adopted mother's breast milk as beneficial as the birth mother's milk?

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Question


I am adopting a newborn who is expected in July. I want to breastfeed my baby. I have heard that I can take hormones and pump my breasts to produce. Would this milk be as beneficial to baby as the biological mother's milk as far as nutrition is concerned?

Answer


Breastfeeding an adopted newborn is a special challenge that usually requires the coordinated help of a lactation specialist and your doctor. Breastfeeding has two major benefits. One is nurturing the mother-infant relationship, where the infant receives comfort and security through suckling, and the mother gains closeness to her baby and self-confidence. The other benefit is optimal nutrition. The adoptive mother can fully enjoy the nurturing benefit of breastfeeding, but not all adoptive mothers will be able to provide all of the baby's nutritional needs through breastfeeding. Two months prior to the newborn's arrival, the adoptive mother should regularly stimulate her breasts, either with a breast pump or by hand expression. Onset of milk production varies from one to six weeks, with the average onset of the first drops of milk starting after four weeks of breast stimulation. Oxytocin, a prescription medication that is sprayed in the nose, can help start the milk production. Other medications and herbal preparations have had some success in helping some women start milk production or increase the volume of milk. The adoptive mother should expect to supplement her newborn with formula. There are several feeding devices that allow the infant to receive the formula as they suckle at the breast, which has been shown to also increase the mother's milk production. Although an adoptive mother may not reach a milk volume that will fully sustain her baby, the milk she does produce is equivalent in nutritive value to milk produced by biological mothers.  
 
 
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