Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Earth Mama® and my daughter -- The interview. Part Two: Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby

I have to be honest. I've waited a long time to share the story of my amazing daughter's breastfeeding journey. It's not a typical one and it was not, by any means, an easy one. I am ridiculously proud of her.  

When I first shared her story with the mamas at Earth Mama®, they were extremely supportive. Now, one year later, they wanted to interview Bethany and help share her story with all of you.

To top it all off, you'll see that, at the end of the interview, Earth Mama® is hosting a giveaway -- 5 lucky ladies will each win a Milk-to-Go Pumping Companion Essentials set. Why? Because the mamas at Earth Mama® are simply awesome and they want to help you ladies along on your own breastfeeding journeys. You can read more about the prize at the end of the interview. But for now, I want to get on with the interview. It's one you don't want to miss!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received product and/or compensation in exchange for posting this interview. It also includes affiliate links.

Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby

Photo by Frames of Infiniity

Earth Mama®: You wanted to breastfeed your baby, but didn’t have breast milk at the time. It’s miraculous that it was even possible. Why was breast milk the best choice for you and your baby and how did you make that happen? 

Bethany: From the time my husband Tom and I decided to adopt, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed and I had Tom’s full support. After I was matched for the adoption, I started researching induced lactation (or re-lactation). I stumbled upon the Newman-Goldfarb protocols and discovered online support groups for induced lactation, which gave me the encouragement I needed to move forward. Prior to finding a lactation consultant who was familiar with the process, I found there to be no help from my OB-GYN or PCP. 

It all started with a pump...

My first step was to rent a hospital-grade breast pump. Initially, I started pumping a couple of minutes every few hours, gradually increasing that to 15 – 20 minutes every 3 hours around the clock. This included setting my alarm to pump in the middle of the night. Within a week to 10 days, the first drops of milk appeared. 

It's important to note that I nursed my biological son for 20 months starting in 2010. It’s been said that your body “remembers” producing milk, thus increasing one’s chances of successfully breastfeeding an adopted baby. However, there are many cases of first time breastfeeding success with adoptees. 

Additional steps I took to establish my production of milk include: 

• taking an herbal lactation booster pill 
• drinking Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Milkmaid Tea 
• breastfeeding my niece (milk sharing, wet nursing) 
• Domperidone 

Within a few weeks, I was pumping enough to start freezing a few ounces of breast milk a day, in preparation for Luna’s expected due date six weeks later. 

Photo by Joelle Cowden
Luna was born two weeks early. By then, I was producing more than enough milk to provide for her needs. However, since I was not yet granted custody, hospital protocol prevented me from breastfeeding or supplying milk to the baby. At 4 lbs. 15 oz., Luna was considered a preemie, so the doctors insisted on fortification, initially of formula, and then of breast milk when I was finally able to provide it to her 2 days after her birth. Since the fortification was necessary, I had to bottle feed her in those early days, but I did bring her to the breast when she was 2 days old. Since Luna was an NAS infant, she had trouble latching properly. With a growing concern for her size, it was necessary to keep track of her caloric intake, so I continued bottle feeding pumped breast milk for the first month or so. By the time I reintroduced the breast, Luna wanted nothing to do with it. She insisted on bottles for another 3 months despite my daily attempts of bringing her to the breast. Miraculously, sometime between 4 and 5 months, she started latching onto my breast. By 5 months, she was breastfeeding exclusively and no longer had anything to do with a bottle. I was finally able to return the hospital breast pump I’d rented months before. 

Earth Mama®: Had you even considered not breastfeeding?

Bethany: I’ve always believed breast milk is best and had planned to purchase from a milk bank if I was unable to produce milk of my own. This became more of a priority after we discovered Luna would be an NAS baby. I discovered a research article on PubMed outlining the particular benefits of breast milk for NAS infants. The benefits included: 

• reduced neonatal abstinence syndrome severity 
• delayed onset of neonatal abstinence syndrome 
• decreased need for pharmacologic treatment, regardless of the gestation and the type of drug exposure. 

After reading this, I knew this would be the only option for me. 

Photo by Joelle Cowden
Additionally, after breastfeeding my son, I recognized the incredible bond that exists between a nursing mother and child. If at all possible, I wanted that bond with my daughter as well. 

Earth Mama®: What would you tell other adoptive mothers who want to breastfeed? 

Bethany: Throughout history, others have breastfed babies they did not give birth to. Now we have the option to use formula, but we need to realize it’s not the only option. An adoptive mother can start preparing to breastfeed as soon as she decides to adopt. Even after a baby has been placed, it’s not too late to begin the process. 

The amount of milk a mother will produce may vary. Some mothers will make no milk despite their best efforts while others will make all the milk their baby will need. While I did not have enough time to start a hormone therapy regimen, many mothers have found success by doing so. 

At breast supplementers are another option for moms who want the bond of breastfeeding without actually producing milk. These supplementers enable moms to “breastfeed” with formula or milk from a donor. 

Tenacity is of utmost importance throughout the entire process. If an adoptive mom really wants to breastfeed, chances are good it will happen. Getting your baby to switch from bottle to breast can be one of the most challenging obstacles to overcome. Had I given up in those early months, Luna and I would have missed out on the incredible experience and bond we now have. My advice is to keep trying. 

Earth Mama®: What Earth Mama Angel Baby products helped you on your breastfeeding journey? 

Bethany: As I mentioned before, I relied on the Milkmaid Tea as I was establishing my milk supply. Since I started breastfeeding Luna, I’ve had mastitis once and clogged ducts twice. The Booby Tubes were invaluable. As is the Natural Nipple Butter (which I also use on my lips every night).

Earth Mama®: I want to thank you, Bethany, for sharing this intimate glimpse into your life as the breastfeeding mom of an NAS adopted baby. You have inspired all of us.

* * *

I don't know about you, but I'm incredibly inspired by my daughter, Bethany, and her whole family. Her husband, Tom, has been an amazing helpmate, and her 6 YO son, Lincoln, is a terrific big brother. I'm one proud mama/grandma. And I'm head-over-heels in love with Luna! Click here to read Part One of the interview where Bethany talks about adopting an NAS baby.

Milk-to-Go Pumping Companion Essentials

Let's celebrate Luna's life with this giveaway. Each winner will receive:
  • Booby Tubes (1 pair)
  • Organic Milkmaid Tea (16 tea bags)
  • Natural Nipple Butter (1 fl. oz.)
  • Happy Mama Body Wash (1.67 fl. oz.)
  • Eco-friendly, Reusable Insulated Bag
  • Recipe for Organic Milkmaid French Vanilla Chai
Giveaway runs until midnight EST on November 16th. Winners will have 48 hours to reply to an email before alternate winners will be chosen. Open to U.S. only. 18+

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Lovely article! I thought I would expand on breastfeeding without meds, and also supplementation at the breast, for those who need it.

    Most moms can produce some amount of breast milk, without pumping, meds or even herbs. For many years, the baby's' suckling was essentially the only way we had to induce lactation. There were no meds to take, and breast pumps, with the exception of the extremely expensive, and heavy, hospital pumps, were nearly, if not totally, worthless. The best way to do this was with the Lact-Aid or, later, the Medela SNS, to provide supplement at the breast. Starting with no milk, nursing on demand I had drops in days and worked up to 35-45% of the milk my kids needed, which was in the middle of the average range for moms who do the same thing. More milk would certainly have been nice, and the Lact-Aid did take some time and planning, but it was well worth every second it took!

    Even a couple of ounces of breast milk per day, in addition to formula, provides very important immunological support and the nurturing relationship is the same as with any other mom and baby. It is often possible for moms with partial supplies to stop supplementing, when their babies are on other foods and liquids.

    There are a few moms, virtually none of whom have been through a pregnancy, who do not produce milk, that way, but just from decades of being involved with helping other adoptive moms, I believe 90% produce at least a few ounces of milk a day, if they stick with it. The few who don't generally do if they start taking domperidone. IN fact, there are some who produce nothing without it, who are eventually able to stop supplementation, after adding it. Virtually everyone who has been through at least 20 weeks or so of a pregnancy produces some amount, without meds.

    At breast supplementation works well, regardless of the amount of supplementation needed. It's tricky, at first, but becomes second nature, with practice. Some moms even use them with two babies at once!


    1. I love all this info!! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Awesome! I had heard about people breastfeeding adopted babies but never knew how they did it. Absolutely amazing!!!! Way to go momma! I am on baby number 2 who is going to be a month old this week and refuses to latch on. So ive been exclusively pumping! Lots of work, but so worth it! :)

    1. Good for you for keeping at it, Ashley. Hopefully, Bethany's story was an encouragement to you.

    2. You are amazing Ashley!! Keep up with the pumping! It's so much work but so worth it!! And keep bring that little one to the breast!! Any day now they could figure the latch thing out!

  3. Inspiring journey! Even to mothers struggling to breastfeed their own little ones.

    1. That's what we were hoping. Thanks for commenting, Jackie.

  4. Wow, what an amazing and inspiring journey. -Desi Jolley

  5. I hope more people go out and can adopt, I know children are looking for a home. There is always hope if you believe.

    1. There sure is, Dorothy! Thanks for the encouragement.

  6. Note:my phone won't let me log in with my name so I'll post it at the end of my comment. The thing that surprised me the most about this article was how well she produced milk without being pregnant. I struggled to keep up with each my kids through 14 months of nursing. Good for her! -Monica Cobbs

  7. This is such a good article and such an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your experience of breastfeeding your new baby. It so surprising to me how you can breastfeed without being pregnant.


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