Friday, September 23, 2011

11 Months of Adoptive Breastfeeding

I have previously  blogged about the amazing privilege of breastfeeding my little girl and my early experiences with induced lactation.  You can read all about it  by clicking on the links below
Part 1 Induced Lactation
Part 2 Adoptive Breastfeeding
Part 3 Adoptive Breastfeeding/ Induced Lactation

These three posts have seen a lot of traffic from all over the world. I have received quite a few emails and comments  from others interested in attempting the same thing.

In this blog I will be answering some of the questions I have received in hopes that it will benefit others who may be searching the limited available data on induced lactation and/or re-lactation.
All questions will be in burgandy italics.

Was your experience a relactation, after previously breastfeeding? If so, how long was it since you breastfed your bio child?

Yes, I have previously breastfed two bio children but my last son was completely weaned over five years before Lexie joined us. The shorter time span  between a previous breastfeeding and relactation the easier and more successful relactation will be.  It is possible however to breastfeed with induced lactation without ever having given birth or breastfeed previously!

How long were you able to continue breastfeeding your adopted daughter?
Lexie will be 12 months old in just two weeks and I have continued to breastfeed her exclusively.

If she were eating solids I don’t think I would be supplementing at all. But she still refuses solids (the little silly head).  I have continued to use a supplemental nursing system to supplement a few ounces of milk each day.
Lexie is also adamantly opposed to the bottle!
 Maybe, just possibly, I was too concerned about nipple confusion in those first few weeks?
This  refusal to eat solids or take a bottle has been a source of annoyance to my wonderful guy, who would really like a baby free date like we had with the other kids. Honestly, I kinda think that would be nice too.   I/we  have tried every bottle you can imagine.  No luck! A friend even loaned me one of those Boob Bottles.  Haha!  But no, it is just not good enough for the princess.
So breastfeed I do…. and quite happily.  Lexie is growing and thriving and developing on schedule, albeit she is still small for size, but this is genetic given her family medical history.

I saw on your blog that you did not use domperidone? Is that still the case?

I do NOT take any Domperidone or any other drug!
As I noted in my previous blogs I have used herbal tinctures and teas with success. 

What herbs did you find to be the most helpful and are you still taking them today?

In my first blog on Induced Lactation I shared what I have personally used to support lactation. You can read the full list here

Fenugreek, Fennel and Alfalfa would be my first herbs of choice. As with any herb be mindful of your body as you take them and increase slowly watching for any possible side effects.  I took a lot and had no side effects save the Fenugreek scent of maple syrup that is common and harmless.
 Normally each time I sat down to nurse I would drink tea  (hot or cold), take tincture and/or herb capsules.

I highly recommend the Nurse-Me Ryme Tea from Mountain Rose Herbs scroll down the page on this link and you will see this tea listed towards the bottom of the page
or Mama's Milk Tea from Bulk Herb Store. 

Don't forget that your diet and liquid intake will impact your milk in a marked way.  Check out this Lactogenic Food List.  

I have not continued to take herbal supplements and teas on a daily basis after my milk supply was well established – around 4 months I stopped taking these supplements on a daily basis.
 I still rely on herbal supplements each month just before my cycle.  I have found that my milk supply is reduced significantly about two days before my monthly cycle and the first day or two of my cycle. During this time I have found it helpful to use my herbal tinctures and/or tea.  I also supplement during this time with a bit more homemade formula  than I would normally give.
 Lexie normally takes a grand total of approximately 6 ounces of supplemental formula each day while nursing using the SNS Medela Feeding System. During this low milk supply phase of 3-4 days she will take closer to 10 or 11 ounces of supplement. This ounce amount is a grand total for a 24 hour period and is in addition to the breastmilk that she gets from me. She is always offered as much as she likes with each feeding.  I frequently nurse her on at least one side, sometimes both before adding supplement. Some feedings we use no supplement but normally she takes about 1-2 ounces of supplement with each feeding.  
At 7 months we stopped using the supplemental feeders completely and she was eating a tiny bit of baby food.  She quit eating and we ended up needing to supplement again.  This is no big deal since we are very used to it now and it doesn’t feel at all cumbersome.

Which  supplemental feeding system do you recommend, the Lact-Aid or the Medela SNS?
From birth to 7 months I supplemented with donated breastmilk and during this time I solely used the Lact-Aid, and kept  the SNS on shelf as back up.  The Lact-Aid is my favorite because of how easy it is to prepare milk in advance, transport it easily and feed discreetly  but…
For the last five months  I have been using the Medela SNS because I am making Homemade Goat Milk Formula and it is too thick to feed properly in the Lact-Aid.  I was forced to switch to the Medela SNS and use the larger tubing which is designed for older babies and a faster flow.  It does not flow faster with this formula but we have had no trouble with the tubes clogging.

However, the design is weak and after 3 months I had to order  replacement tubing because the tubes separate near the lid were they are attached and it starts leaking.  It has been three months since replacement and once again the tubes are leaking, so maybe the life expectancy of the tubing is around 3 months. If you know you will be using the SNS for any extended period of time,  I highly recommend that you buy several replacement tubing pieces. I no longer use the string around the neck and hold the bottle, this keeps baby from grabbing the tubes (read breaking the tubes) and really it is easier when you have been dealing with this contraption for months anyway.

You mentioned homemade formula, please explain.
The formula that I make is from - “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon

I have made several adaptions – I swap brown rice syrup in place of the lactose sugar.  Lexie did not do well with the Lactose sugar and handles the brown rice syrup fine. On the same note, I use Goat milk and cream in place of cow milk, as well as goat milk derived  bifidobacterium infantis, in place of the typical cow milk derived version.
I have chosen to make her formula because I am very uncomfortable feeding my baby Chinese sourced dairy products (just check out all the recalls), milk that has been processed at high temperatures, soy products or corn syrup. I will not belabor the point.  If you are interested, here is a great blog with the recipes and some explanations.

I believe that this answers most of the questions that have been asked. Feel free to leave additional questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.


  1. Sweet, sweet pictures of your sweet Lexie-girl nursing. And I'm still so impressed that you were able to do this! I know what dedication that has required on your part--- good job! (And those date nights will come before you know it! ;))

  2. You did it! Knew you could but it is wonderful that you are blogging this for other's inspiration.
    That sweet healthy little person in your arms is a testimony to others that it does work.
    She is so alert, so well developed and soooo cute.
    You are a good mama.
    I love you. Your mama

  3. Awe, Thanks Stacy. It is true, it was a lot of work to get to were we are today but it is SO very worth it all.

    Thanks Mum for your sweet words, you are so encouraging. Love you!

  4. I am so happy for you.

    Having exclusively breastfed three of our adopted children I can not imagine doing anything else. What a wonderful and lasting bond is made in Momma's arms.

  5. I found your picture and had to come to your site! I have never been pregnant, but nursed six adopted babies. My third, fifth and sixth children are black and they are the babes I nursed the longest, too. My youngest is leaving for college in two weeks, so that was quite a while ago. It was very hard to find information, support, etc, back in the early 80s when we adopted our first. I learned most of it by trial and error. I tried Reglan, but it made me terribly depressed. I used fenugreek and fennel tea with my fifth baby. Other than that, it was just the suckling that stimulated milk production. I had to supplement until they were on quite a bit of other foods and liquids, but they did fabulously well as long as they were getting even a little bit of breast milk. My second, born in 1986, did very poorly for his first four months. He had such a weak suck that I couldn't produce milk for him. He was underweight, not developing, had ear infections that would not go away, and screamed most of the time. That all changed when I found someone to donate some breast milk for him. He only got 4-6 ounces of her milk a day, but it was like a miracle! After that, I knew that, even if I could only produce that much milk, it would be wonderful. I produced 2-3 times that much.

    I also used raw goat milk formula. I used it exclusively with my fifth baby. He didn't do well on milk based formulas. When I got him, at 15 days, he was on soy formula. I am allergic to soy and using soy formula in the Lact-Aid was like pouring strong acid on my breasts. I tried Nutramigen, but he refused to suck on anything that nasty tasting stuff was coming out of. I had used raw goat milk with my previous baby, who was 6 months when we got her and didn't start nursing until she was a year old. I decided to supplement with it, for my fifth baby. I had no trouble with it not going through the Lact-Aid tube, though. I added water, folic acid, probiotics, and powdered lactose. There must be something different that you put in yours. I had to do some experimenting to find a probiotics formulation that would dissolve completely. I ended up using Primadophilus for Children.

    Is you daughter still nursing? I assume she is almost four now. Most of mine weaned at about two years old, but my third child was still nursing a little bit until he was about four and a half. At that time, we adopted his brother and he told me he was a big boy and I should nurse the baby.

    Best Wishes,
    Darillyn Starr


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