Can an Adoptive Mom Nurse an Adopted Baby?

Can an Adoptive Mom Nurse an Adopted Baby?

Prospective adoptive mothers who are adopting a newborn might wonder if they will be missing out on the option of nursing their baby. Can an adoptive mom nurse an adopted baby?

An adoptive mom can nurse an adopted baby, even if she has not been pregnant. This can happen through stimulation of a nursing pump, which increases the hormones that produce the mother’s milk. A nursing pump can be used beginning weeks before the baby arrives.

I don’t know about you, but I find it absolutely incredible that a woman who has not been pregnant might be able to produce milk for a baby.

We will cover the following topics in this article:

  • Can You Produce Milk for an Adopted Baby?
  • How Long Does It Take to Induce Lactation?
  • What to Expect When Inducing Lactation?
  • Inducing Lactation Schedule
  • Benefits of Nursing a Baby

Every mother of a newborn considers her option of whether to nurse her baby or use formula.

There are several different brands of formula that are available for infants today that are full of the essential vitamins and minerals that a growing baby requires.

Formula as a supplement may still be required for mothers who wish to nurse their baby, as there are times when a mother is not able to produce the necessary amount of milk that her baby needs.

If a supplement is necessary, that will be determined by the mother and her medical caregiver.


Related Article: Adoption is such a long, drawn out process, and your focus will be finalizing your adoption and bringing your child home. But then what? How to Make Your Adopted Child Feel Welcome: 11 Tip Checklist is a terrific resource for helping you make that adjustment after adoption.


How, though, would it be possible a woman’s body to produce milk without ever being pregnant?

Doesn’t the production of milk require the hormones that one produces when pregnant?

Can You Produce Milk for an Adopted Baby?

Most adoptive mothers at least want the option of being able to nurse their new baby. And the news is good for those asking the question, can you product milk for an adopted baby?

Any woman can produce milk through nursing pump stimulation. The more stimulation, the more milk. Producing milk should begin before the arrival of your baby so that you are generating as much milk as you can in preparation for your baby’s homecoming.

It is well known that nursing milk is the preferred nutrition for a baby, as it has all of the nutrients that a baby needs to grow and thrive and may be an option you decide to choose.

Whether you nurse or decide to use formula, feeding times offer that special bonding that is so important for both the baby and the parent.

In making your decision whether to nurse or bottle feed, the most important thing to stress here is that it is the physical closeness between a parent and baby that creates that special bond, not the means in which you feed.

Even bottle fed babies can experience the tummy-to-tummy nurturing. If you are not familiar with tummy-to-tummy feeding, this is when you and the baby are skin-to-skin against each other during the time the baby is nursing or being bottle fed.

How Long Does It Take to Induce Lactation?

Inducing lactation refers to the practice of assisting a woman who has not been pregnant to produce milk. A woman adopting a newborn baby who wishes to nurse may ask, how long does it take to induce lactation?

Inducing lactation takes approximately 6 to 7 weeks with regular pumping during intervals matching how often a newborn baby nurses. This length of time is longer than for a woman who has just given birth, so the head start is needed.

A woman wanting to nurse her adopted baby will want to schedule a visit with her medical care provider as soon as she knows the approximate arrival time of her baby.

The sooner that appointment is made, the sooner a plan can be put into place to get the milk production started. Progesterone and estrogen may be prescribed to help mimic the effects of pregnancy.

Other medications can also be prescribed if the woman has only a short time to prepare to nurse her new baby.

When adopting a baby, one does not always have months to prepare for the nursing process. With the assistance of your medical care provider, your chances of being able to nurse you baby are in your favor.

What to Expect When Inducing Lactation?

Nursing a baby is such a fulfilling and loving part of motherhood, yet like so many other joys in life, it does have its challenges.

Let’s take a look at some things you will most certainly experience when inducing lactation:

  • There will be times when “the girls” will feel so full, heavy, and at times painful that you will want to relieve some of that pressure with a pump.

    This is normal whether you have induced lactation or were pregnant and is a good sign that your body is doing what you want it to do.
  • You will increase in size to about two to three cups sizes, and it is common to see a few stretch marks as well as some visible veins near the surface of the nursing area.
  • One of the most annoying side effects of lactating is that you will leak. Pads can be purchased anywhere that other baby products are sold and provides protection against visible leakage through your clothing.

Inducing Lactation Schedule

About two months before a woman starts nursing, she will stop taking any possible hormone medication she may have been prescribed earlier by her medical provider.

At this time, the woman will use a pump to begin encouraging her body to express milk.

A common recommendation is to use a hospital-grade, electric pump. This encourages the body to produce prolactin, a protein that helps with milk production.

Per the Mayo Clinic, pump for five minutes three times a day when starting this process. Work up to pumping for 10 minutes every four hours, and at least once during the night.

Pumping should be increased to 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours, and continuing this process even after the baby arrives.

It may be suggested by your help care provider to continue the pumping after each feeding time to encourage the body to produce even more milk.

7 Benefits of Nursing a Baby

Most medical professionals agree that nursing your baby for the first six months of your baby’s life will provide optimal nutrition as well as the added benefit of the closeness and bonding that takes place when nursing.

This is not to say that a woman who chooses to use formula instead of nursing will not experience that same special bonding with her baby.

Whether you choose to nurse and/or supplement with formula, the most important thing is the love and closeness shared with your baby while providing the necessary nutrition your baby needs to grow.

1. Nursing provides your baby optimal nutrition

During the first few days of nursing, you will produce colostrum. Colostrum is a thick, yellowish liquid that is perfectly suited for baby’s small stomach.

This first liquid is full of protein, loaded with the right balance of nutrients for a newborn, and low in sugar. Colostrum is considered a superfood for your baby, and its benefits cannot be replaced by formula.

As a baby grows, so does the quantity and composition of the milk. The only thing that has been found to be lacking in a mother’s milk is Vitamin D.

2. Nursing encourages baby’s healthy weight

Nursing maintains a healthy weight and prevents child obesity. Nursed babies are also good at stopping when they are satisfied and become very good at regulating their nutritional intake as not to overfeed.

A study, courtesy of Plos One, was done showing babies who are nursed longer than four months have a much greater chance of not becoming overweight.


3. Nursing may help your baby to be smarter

Want a smart child? Nursing has been linked to possibly contributing to the intelligence of babies. There is speculation that perhaps this is due to the close bonding through touch and eye contact which establishes that secure bond.

Secure babies would naturally have a better self esteem, as well as having been provided optimal nutrition.

Check out these studies that indicate nursed babies have higher intelligence scores and are more apt to have less learning challenges when they are older.

4. Nursing is bound to help you lose weight

Whether you wish to loose a few pounds or not, nursing taxes your reserves. You burn more calories when you nurse, as the milk requires calories and nutrients that come from your body to provide for your baby.

So it makes sense that you will lose a bit of weight when you nurse.

To learn more about the research of nursing and weight loss, you may find this study of interest to you.

5. Nursing reduces the mother’s risk of disease

The amount of time a woman nurses is connected to a reduced risk of ovarian cancer and cancer of the nursing area.

Additional benefits of nursing has shown to also reduce the risks of:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease

JAMA Oncology provides a study on the association between nursing and ovarian cancer risks.

6. Nursing pauses menstruation

For most women, a break from their monthly periods is a welcoming benefit of nursing. When a woman is nursing, both menstruation and ovulation is temporarily suspended.

7. Nursing saves money

Let’s face it, formula isn’t cheap. Not to mention the whole process of bottle preparation that make nursing seem like a huge plus.

If you decide to use formula or will need to supplement with formula, be prepared for the timely routine of cleaning and then sterilizing the bottles.

On top of that, you will have the responsibility of making sure the formula you make is at the correct temperature for your baby.

Then throw in the reminder of midnight feedings. Imagine you are enjoying a rare and precious moment of deep sleep. Suddenly, you are awakened to a crying, hungry baby.

While half asleep, you stumble into the kitchen and grab a clean bottle, the formula, and start warming the water. In the meantime, your baby’s cries are getting louder, and it is breaking your heart that you do not yet have the bottle ready.

Now imagine instead being woken up to your hungry baby, and you almost instantly can pull your baby close to you and begin the feeding, a process that puts you one step closer to falling back to sleep. All while saving money at the same time.

Whether you nurse or use formula, it is the bond of the closeness shared between the parent and the baby that is by far the most important thing here.