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Adoptive Breastfeeding

Adoptive Breastfeeding, No Hormones

I have never been pregnant, I am not taking any hormones, and I am preparing to breastfeed in advance of our child’s arrival. My family doctor, our new pediatrician, and the lactation consultant were all very positive and optimistic when I shared that I wanted to breastfeed our adopted infant but that I was not interested/able to take BCPs or domperidone, etc.

I’m only on day 4, but I was very pleasantly surprised to begin producing a few drop of breastmilk on day 2.  Every woman is different, so I know that some women take several weeks to see a drop and I expected this to be my experience. However, I am pleased to report that I’ve produced a single milky drop from each breast every time I’ve pumped since then.

Because I’ve found so many discouraging forums and articles about adoptive breastfeeding online, I wanted to share what I’ve learned from my network and ask if anyone else has had a similar experience. So many people online say that it’s impossible to induce breastfeeding without a cocktail of hormones and galactagogues. ALL THREE of my medical providers immediately dismissed this as nonsense and told me that many women are successful with stimulation alone.

Here’s the “protocol” I was prescribed:

1. Using a high-quality breast pump, begin pumping 2x a day for 5-10 minutes. I chose morning and evening. Massaging your breasts and nipples during the day also helps “wake them up” (my lactation consultant suggested making it a part of my shower routine).
2. When you feel ready, gradually increase the number of times you pump each day. If pumping ever hurts, lower the suction. Pumping is a little weird, but it shouldn’t hurt.
3. Get your head in the game. If pumping is stressful or a chore, you may contradict that lovely happy ocytocin you need. Watch videos of cute babies on YouTube or take a warm shower to relax before you pump. Start out by making it as comfortable an experience as you can for yourself.
4. Make sure you have a supportive partner and/or medical provider. Tell your partner that this is important to you, and find a new provider if you need to.

I also recommend talking to an actual lactation consultant. I’m so glad I went. They can help you get fitted for a breast pump so that you’re using the right size, and they’ll help show you exactly how you should use it. Without their advice, I have to admit I might not have done it correctly—even with the instructions that came with the pump! Also, your insurance probably covers your pump, even if you aren’t pregnant. ASK! The hospital-grade pumps are totally worth it if someone else is paying for them.

Has anyone else tried inducing lactation without hormones or domperidone? What was your experience like? I know how much success stories encourage me, so I’m sure there are other adoptive moms out there looking for encouragement, too.


Way to go! This is an awesome story; thanks for sharing.

Posted by eemast01 on Feb 13, 2017 at 7:03pm

Hi, that is great that you are giving it a try!  I had bf my bio son, but it was 9 years before we adopted.  I also agree that seeing a lactation consultant is key!!  And I actually had better luck with hand expressing than I did with my pump.  I was able to use a supplemental nursing system and it worked out well.

Good luck!

Posted by maryohio on Feb 13, 2017 at 8:23pm

oh, meant to add that I used Mother’s Milk tea, I think it was called.  A natural blend of herbs used to induce lactation.

Posted by maryohio on Feb 13, 2017 at 8:25pm

Wow! I had written this off as impossible…thanks for sharing.

Posted by joyfull1 on Feb 19, 2017 at 5:58pm

Any updates to share?  I’m just starting out and would love to hear how things are going for you!

Posted by Mreyn7 on Sep 05, 2017 at 12:10am

Update: I was able to consistently produce a small amount of milk! And we had no trouble with latching, which definitely kicked up my production. Unfortunately, our kiddo is enormous and became frustrated with my lower supply and we ended up using a combination of donor milk and formula. But kudos to everyone who tries this, whether or not they succeed in producing milk. And don’t let it get you down if you can’t! Fed is best.

Posted by NewOregonMom on Oct 04, 2017 at 7:36pm

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