It is totally possible to breastfeed an adopted baby. Remember most royal babies of older times were fed by a wet nurse.  Most women are able to produce some milk but oftentimes not enough to solely breastfeed, so it is normal to have to supplement at the same time. If you have nursed a baby before it increases your chance of producing enough milk. Even if you need to supplement it is still worth it to build up your milk supply and breastfeed.  If you think about breastfeeding from a relational point of view as opposed to only for sustenance then you are more likely to feel that you have succeeded and it may make it more worth the work involved. Breastfeeding, beyond being the best nutritionally, for the baby is key for comfort and bonding of the baby and for you it will cause you to release oxytocin which will increase your patience and attachment to the baby. I think it is totally worth it to breastfeed an adopted baby even if the baby is not getting its total substance from you.

To build up a milk supply for an adopted baby it is recommend to start pumping 8 times a day on both sides for two months before you want to actually start nursing a baby. I recommend the Pump N Style from Medulla. Of all the moms I have worked with they all say it is the easiest to use and best quality. The rhythm of the pump is similar to the sucking of a baby and helps build supply.

Supplementer Nursing Devices

For starting nursing, if you are not producing much it is recommended to get a supplementer which delivers the supplement milk to the nipple so the baby gets it while sucking at the breast.  This has three advantages; it stimulates the breasts while the baby is getting supplemental milk, it minimizes nipple confusion,  and it encourages the baby to suck.

Two types of supplementers are recommended with pros and cons. Medula Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) and the Lact-Aid.

Pros of the Medula Supplemental Nursing System:

·         The container is similar to a bottle and is easy to set up.

·         Switching sides is easy because there are two tubes that can both be taped in place prior to feeding.

·         There is less on-going expense because there is no need to buy additional supplies.

Cons of the Medula Supplemental Nursing System

·         The SNS can be cumbersome when trying to manage the baby at the breast.

·         The second tube can get in the way and be an enticement to play.

·         Because milk flow with the SNS uses gravity, the supplement may continue to drip and even pour from the tubes when the baby unexpectedly lets go of the breast, especially if both tubes are open.

·         Difficult to nurse discreetly in public

Pros of the Lact-Aid

·         The Lact-Aid is less bulky and less noisy, so it is easier to nurse discreetly in public.

·         The bag is softer and more comfortable against mother’s skin.

·         The main unit is easier to clean because the bags are disposable.

·         Because the Lact-Aid uses a vacuum rather than gravity to regulate the milk flow, babies suck more with the Lact-Aid, which may have a more positive effect on mother’s milk production.

Cons of the Lact-Aid

·         Because the bags are disposable there is an on-going expense. Link to Lact Aid bags on Amazon

·         The device is more difficult to assemble.

·         Filled units must be stored and transported upright.

Building Mammary Tissue and A Milk Supply

Adoptive moms can use herbs to build mammary tissue as well as to safely and effectively increase breast milk. Goat’s Rue is an herb discovered in Europe, known to support lactation and the development of mammary tissue. Mother Love has a product that combines a special blend of herbs that promote milk production called More Milk wiht Goats Rue. This formula helps women who did not increase in breast size during pregnancy, have had previous breast surgeries and adoptive mothers.

Motherlove More Milk Special Blend Herbal Breastfeeding Supplement with Goat’s Rue for Lactation Support, 60 Liquid Capsules

Although I am in general an all natural girl, if you are serious about breastfeeding you will have the most success in building your milk supply by getting one of two prescriptions from a doctor. Reglan is most often prescribed in the US, but may cause some women to have symptoms of depression, so I don’t recommend it.

Domperidone compound is a prescription from Canada. You can get it online with a prescription or some pharmacies will make it. It does not have the side effects of Reglan and works very well, but it is a bit more expensive. You can Google to find a place to purchase it.

Birth control pills will decrease your milk supply to some extent and some studies have shown it to have a negative long-term effect in babies by causing suppressed growth, so consider using a barrier method instead.

Though it may be a bit of work the rewards of breastfeeding an adopted baby are way worth it. You will be happier and calmer producing oxytocin and you will bond to the baby in a beautiful way. Plus there are many health benefits to the baby. A breastfed baby is a happier baby, no matter if it is your biological baby or not.


Jack Newman is an international expert on breastfeeding and the following article is about breastfeeding an adopted baby:

Picture are copyright by creative commons for free use.

For more ideas on building a milk supply or nursing challenges pleas make an appointment with me.