Frequently Asked Questions About Adoptive Breastfeeding/Induced Lactation
What is adoptive breastfeeding?
Adoptive breastfeeding is a term used to describe a mother who breastfeeds a baby that she did not carry herself. This term is gradually being replaced with the term induced lactation. You may be familiar with the term “wet nurse”, which refers to a woman who breastfed another woman’s baby. It was quite common among the European aristocracy prior to the 20th Century. The most famous “wet nurse” was actually Moses’. After he was plucked from the Nile his sister went to the Queen and suggested a woman to breastfeed him. The woman was Moses’ own mother. However in that case the “wet nurse” had actually carried the baby. It is not necessary to have been pregnant in order to induce lactation.
I had a total hysterectomy. Can I breastfeed?
Of course! It is not necessary to have been pregnant in order to breastfeed. It is not necessary to have a uterus or ovaries in order to breastfeed. If you have breasts and a functioning pituitary gland you can most likely breastfeed.
Do mothers inducing lactation produce the same breastmilk as birth mothers?
Mothers who induce lactation produce mature breastmilk that is comparable to the breastmilk of a biological mother at 10 days post partum. Because inducing moms are unable to produce human placental lactogen, they are unable to produce colostrum. However, since the amount of antibodies and other immune factors remains the same throughout lactation regardless of the volume of milk produced, mature milk contains ample amounts of antibodies, immune factors and other beneficial components that benefit both mother and baby.
How do I induce lactation?
In 1999 Lenore Goldfarb and Jack Newman, MD developed a protocol to help adoptive mothers to bring in their milk supplies. This method involves the use of medications, pumping and herbs, and in many cases has enabled adoptive breastfeeding mothers to bring in a full or nearly full milk supply. Basically the medications fool your body into thinking it’s pregnant, causing the breasts to produce breastmilk. Once the milk making apparatus of your breasts has been developed you can begin pumping and/or breastfeeding. It takes 2-3 weeks to build the milk supply.
Do I have to take medications to induce lactation?
No. Some mothers prefer to breastfeed with the use of a supplementary feeding tube device without the use of any sort of medical intervention. It may take several weeks or months but many mothers have been able to produce breastmilk with this method. However, in recent years, treatment options have been developed, which include the use of medications, pumping and herbs, to induce lactation, thereby enabling the mother to breastfeed with her own milk supply from the start. Lenore Goldfarb and Jack Newman, MD have developed the Newman-Goldfarb Protocols for Induced Lactation for this purpose.
I’m not sure when my baby will arrive. Can I still breastfeed?
Of course! If you know the due date and you have more than 3 months lead time, you can consider The Regular Protocol by Lenore Goldfarb and Jack Newman, MD. If you only have 30 days or less or if your baby has already arrived, you may want to consider The Accelerated Protocol. Basically you need to give yourself about 2 weeks to bring in your milk supply after spending a minimum of 30 days on the protocol. If your baby has already arrived, you can breastfeed with the aid of a supplementary feeding tube device filled with either donor milk or artificial infant milk until your own milk comes in.
My baby will be several days, weeks, or months old when we can finally take him/her home. Can I breastfeed my older baby?
Of course. Generally speaking it is easier to get baby to breast if the baby is less than 3 months old but there are techniques to assist the older baby to the breast. It will take time and patience but it can be done. So far the oldest child that we know of was latched at three years of age. You may find this disconcerting but think about it from the child’s point of view. Perhaps your child was adopted after spending weeks, months, or even years in an institutional setting with little physical contact. Breastfeeding is an ideal way for such a child to be nurtured and bonded with. We highly recommend that you contact an international board certified lactation consultant to assist you with this. You can find one at www.iblce.org
Where can I find more information about induced lactation and breastfeeding?
Newman-Goldfarb Protocols for Induced Lactation © 2002-2010
Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC and Lenore Goldfarb, Ph.D., CCC, IBCLC