Monday, December 06, 2010

Induced Lactation - Adoptive Breastfeeding - Adoptive Nursing - Part 2

 Today marks the 8wk anniversary of my breastfeeding adventure with Lexie. 
  Here I will share our story from the beginning and hopefully come back and update over the course of the next few months.

 I had planned to begin nursing Alexis immediately in the hospital, BUT…………..
…the nurses and doctor totally freaked out on me.
I tried to reason, to refer to medical data, and assure them that I did not require any assistance or time commitment from them.  But it was just too much for their textbook minds to handle.

Warning!  What follows is rather long winded nursery/doctor drama, and umm..........well, my own personal rant.  So if you like you can skip on down to the bottom where I actually start the story of breastfeeding Lexie, feel free. :-)

The head nurse, coincidentally Lexie’s assigned nurse, was horrified when I explained that I was prepared to breastfeed Alexis using a supplemental feeding system.  Her words were,  “Oh, we COULDN’T let you do THAT!  You would be putting the baby to your ACTUAL BREAST, and she isn’t yours.” Stutter.  “I mean, she is ….uh…. under the attorney right now and you don’t even have guardianship papers yet.

Truly, I nearly laughed out loud it was so absurd, “actual breast?”
Nah, I figured I would use these fake boobs until all the paperwork is through.  LOL! 

D told me later that he bit his tongue to keep from saying, “Why yes, didn’t you know this was a new form of sexual assault, putting a newborn to a naked breast.” :-)

Why couldn’t I just be normal and give her a bottle like everyone else?
  “After all formulas are so good today that it really isn’t much different than breastmilk and it is completely a matter of personal preference.”  (These are the actual words that I overheard from a nurse to a new mother who was asking about breastfeeding.)

Can she really mean the stuff that lines the supermarket shelves?  That formula is based on Chinese powdered milk and corn syrup or sucrose (white table sugar).  Need I mention all the  recalls?  Similacs most recent contamination recall was just before Lexie was born. Comforting, isn’t it? Have you ever had your  breastmilk recalled? :-) Oh, but it is all the same.  Sure it is. (NOT)

Anyway, back to this nurse, (still need to go back and review her on Angie’s List, she was ….well, let’s just say, “Not a good experience, I could say ever so much more about her, but let's just say she needs another job badly”.)

She (the nurse, that is) proceeded to explain that I would have to have consent from the attorney before they could allow me to do THAT

This was meant as staling agent because it was the weekend and she assumed that I couldn’t possibly get a hold of the attorney until Monday.
I took it as a valid piece of legal red tape, just something to be untangled.  I dialed the para-legal and in five minutes, with the nursing standing right there, had gotten verbal consent. Oh,that wasn’t enough  SHE had to speak to them herself.   I made a move to pass the cell phone, but the nurse held up her hand, and said, “ Oh no, I can’t take consent on a cell phone, they would have to call the nurses line.” (Seriously?)   “But”, she continued, “I have to feed another baby, so I can’t take that call until after 12, and they would also have to fax in written consent. “ I dutifully relayed this info and hung up.

I am starting to get the picture. These people REALLY don’t want me to breastfeed this baby. Noon arrives, everything falls into place with consent from the attorney.

 Ah but no, the doctor would also have to give consent. So I stayed on in the nursery awaiting the advent of the all powerful doctor person.

 Now the nurses begin to suggest attractions in the area, and places to eat
Do you think they wanted me to leave?
I certainly am not about to miss THE DOCTOR?

Just before the doctor arrives,  the nurse comes to me to explain that when the doctor arrives I will have to leave the nursery because each of the babies in care need to be discussed with the nurse in charge of them and this is private information and they can’t have ME in there while they are doing this. 

I smile (hopefully sweetly, because I am now getting annoyed) and state that I will stay with Lexie until I need to leave but request to see the doctor before he finishes duty on the floor.  She says, “Yes, yes of course.”

In walk two different sets of parents to sit with their littles, and a minute later THE DOCTOR arrives.  I wait to be asked to leave because I have a suspicion.  Which is confirmed, the nurses have a problem, because all the other “NORMAL” parents can’t be asked to leave and this puts them in a a hard spot because it will look very bad to ask me this strange anomaly  adoptive parent to leave.  Forty five minutes later all the other babies on all sides, before and behind have been seen, and a whispered nurse/ doctor confab has been had at the far side of the nursery.  

Finally, it is Alexis turn to be seen and charted.  I wait and then just as doctor turns to leave I say, in my sweetest voice, “I have a couple of questions, if you have a moment.” She (lady doctor) turns around and asks, “Oh, what would you like to know about the baby?”  

“Actually, I just wanted to discuss breastfeeding with you.  The nurse stated that I would need your consent to breastfeed Alexis.

Doctor crosses her arms, and frowns and says, “We don’t do that sort of thing, here.”
I push onward.
“ I am aware this is not standard procedure, and I will not require any assistance from the nurses.  I have the supplemental feeding system that would be necessary for this and am prepared to use it.  You will be able to monitor exactly how much she is receiving; all I am requesting is your consent.”
With a toss of her head, she says, “Why would you want to do THAT? You don’t even HAVE any MILK.”

Swallowing my offence,  I refer to medical data concerning bonding, and skin to skin contact. I appeal to  her doctor knowledge saying that I am sure she has read the studies on these issues.
She grudgingly said that she is aware of these studies but she doesn’t think that it indicates breastfeeding.  Close contact is all that is necessary.  After a lot of other blah,blah, blah, about good formulas and the fact that I “might confuse the baby, which would make it take longer till they could release her , and certainly I wouldn’t want that”  She ended by saying, “I can’t control what you do when you leave here, but while you are here in this nursery you WILL NOT be doing THAT.”  (THAT being the unspeakable freak show of adoptive nursing). And then she left, stalked out really.

I was so upset, and had tried so hard the entire time to “hold it together” and be self-controlled and level headed. I walked out into the parking lot and in tears called dh to come and get me. While I waited for him I vented on my dear friend, Laura.  Thanks, girlfriend!

Later dh told me that I should have just broken down in there and cried and said, “Why is it so unreasonable to want to nurse a baby?”  Maybe it would have softened her a bit.

 But I didn’t do this because, first of all I don’t cry very easily and second of all not in public, and certainly not when I am trying to be diplomatic and reason with someone.

Let’s just say that if I didn’t like doctors before, this certainly confirmed it.

Whew, now that I have all of that off my chest, maybe I can actually tell you about adoptive breastfeeding.  :-) 


Sorry, about all the ranting.

Week 1

It was Monday evening, Oct 11, when we arrived home with Alexis .  At 5 days old she has been fed solely with the long firm hospital nipples. 

Bottles like the one in the picture above.

Our first several feedings she would struggle to “find” the nipple with her mouth wide open just waiting for something to be shoved in all the way to the back of her mouth.   We started with the Medela SNS, and not the Lact-aid.  One good thing about this was that because the SNS is gravity fed, the tubing would drip milk into her mouth and then she would latch on wonderfully after realizing that there was milk there.  I will never forget that very first feeding.  When she started to suckle, all snuggled up against my skin, a shiver like tremor went through her whole body and she heaved  a huge gasping sigh, relaxed completely and went on nursing.  Honestly, I think she knew that somehow things were going to be alright in her little world.

In less than 24 hours she had figured out the change and rarely needed any special help to latch on properly.

Throughout the next days we had our struggles with tubes slipping out, the SNS bottle leaking, and just my general clumsiness but all in all it went well. By Day 4 I was able to hand express a drop or two of milk and I was thrilled.  But by Day 7 I was discouraged because not much had changed, I still didn’t have more than a few drops.

Week 2

Somewhere in this week I was able to begin getting a fine spray of milk but things just didn’t seem to be progressing as I had hoped.  I still couldn’t hand express more than a tsp or so per side.  I read some more, and was comforted to find that things really were progressing well.   With induced lactation there is never a time when you are engorged and your milk suddenly comes in.  The common saying is that it creeps in.  Well yes, mine was creeping in, and I was not feeling very patient. 

About this time the Lact-aid came in the mail and I noticed that Lexie definitely had to suckle harder and thus it was more stimulating than when using the SNS.  Plus it was much easier to clean and all around I would choose it over the SNS any day.

My dear friend Susie had donated a great deal of colostrum and early breastmilk which she had saved in her deep freezer.  It was wonderful to be able to give Lexie straight breastmilk for those first two weeks.

More soon…..


  1. I cannot believe your experience with the nurse and doctor. That is... horrific. I am amazed that you were able to hold it together at all. I would have been livid, and having to literally bite my tongue to not say something snarky.

    Oh, my... but praise be to God for that first feeding and all subsequent feedings! Your description of her huge sigh~ settling in that first time? Oh, so *so* sweet and perfect.


  2. O my...and people wonder why I'm in alternative medicine!!! grrrrr....Bravo to you for sticking with it! I posted a minute ago about Anise Essential oil...I had a study on the effects of it and breastfeeding being very successful! Can't wait to hear the rest. xo

  3. Hey Aubrey, would you forward your info on Anise EO to me? I would love to read more. From the little that I have read it would be similar in effects to the fennel and fenugreek that I am currently doing. My only concern with Anise is that if I remember correctly it does slow down the circulation and I already have some issues with reduced circulation. I may be wrong, either way I am interested and hope you get a moment to shoot me an email. Thanks girlfriend.

  4. I love you rant on the nurses/doctors. I've often said that if I had to have my babies in the hospital I am afraid my hubby would fight with the nurses:)! I would have been so mad... I'm so proud of you for sticking it out, can't wait to hear more!

  5. Bless you for putting this out there for others to find. I had tried to nurse our baby from Ethiopia (she was 9 months old)...there was little out there at that time (2 years ago).

    Sorry you had such a hard beginning, but anything hard is so worth the fight in the end. May God be your strength and your source!

    mama to 8
    one homemade and 7 adopted

  6. Hi there, just found your blog.
    I must say I am ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTED WITH THOSE MEDICAL "professionals".
    I live in Australia and I can tell you they sometimes get a bit pushy being PRO-breastfeeding which is wonderful. They do everything in their power to help mothers having trouble and I'm sure they'd even encourage adoptive feeding.
    Even though it's not something I think I would do myself, there are islander women here that I know who feed eachother's babies... a little odd for me but it's all about love right?!
    I can even say that the nursing/midwife staff in Australian hospitals would even look into how to help you all the way.

    I'm really sorry you have to put up with rubbish like that. Here we have a more advanced version of your new health system, We all pay for it (tax) and all use it and even things like physio, having babies, meditation and acupuncture can be easy and free to use.

    I'm really happy you're getting results now and I commend you on your love and support of these children.

  7. Hi! I just came across your blog. My husband and I are in the process of adoption and I want to induce lactation. I would love any advice or tips that you have. I am thinking about starting induction now though we haven't been placed yet. If you have any advice I would love to hear it.


  8. I just found your blog and this is the first post I read...I am curious to read on and find out how adoptive breastfeeding has been going.

    I first just wanted to say I was reading this and was SO MAD FOR YOU! Oh my goodness. I'm sorry. L&D nurses and NICU nurses are the worst. I had a fit with them, trying to breastfeeding my preemie bio son.

    I'm breastfeeding my four-year-old adopted son and my now three-year-old bio son and I'm so happy to see other people with the same drive!

  9. Hey, Jamie thank you for your kind words. Breastfeeding is going GREAT! Lexie is now nine months old and solely breastfeeding, you can check out my nine month post if your interested.
    If she would be remotely interested in eating I wouldn't have to use the supplemental feeding system at all but for now I still offer extra in the late afternoons and evenings. Homemade goat milk base formula, an adaption from the Nourishing Traditions recipe by Sally Fallon.

  10. I'm an l&d/ mom-baby nurse. I can tell you with 100% confidence that, where I work, we would do everything in our power to support you in breast feeding your adopted baby. Your story is truly inspiring! Thank you for putting your story out there! Please know, though, that all nurses and doctors are not like he ones you experienced!


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