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Adoptive Breastfeeding

Looking for advice and encouragement

My husband and I are in the process of adopting. A few months ago I heard Adopted mothers could breast-feed. I am super excited about this idea but not very sure on how to proceed.

We don’t know when our placement is going to happen. I talked to her social worker about the idea and she said I would also need the birthmothers permission to breast-feed.

Again not knowing when we are going to be placed I don’t know how to when start the process of developing or producing milk.

I am super excited about the idea of building the attachment through breast-feeding as I have no bio children of my own And this will be a new experience. Is there anyone who can give advice? Has anyone else had to ask permission from the birth mom before proceeding with breast-feeding?


I have heard of adoptive mothers doing it.  I can’t offer advise on it but why would you need to birth mother’s permission?

Posted by melindao on Aug 20, 2013 at 5:11pm

I rented a hospital-grade pump as soon as we had a match with a birth mom. I researched Newman-Goldfarb protocols for induced lactation and made an appointment with my Ob-Gyn to discuss possibly using hormones to help produce milk. (The time between the match and our son’s birth was about 1 month.)

Our birth mom was supportive of my desire to breastfeed but it was a conversation that was broached by our adoption worker because I didn’t know how mom would take it. However, the hospital social worker was not supportive because breastmilk is a viewed the same as blood so the hospital had to address the legal ramifications of giving him milk from a non-biological parent.

Once the birth parents rights’ were relinquished, I was free to nurse him.

So, read up on induced lactation protocols, make an appointment with a breastfeeding-friendly Ob-Gyn, and rent a hospital pump.

Good luck!

Posted by kurtzfamily on Aug 20, 2013 at 5:54pm

Congratulations on your decision to adopt - and to breastfeed!  Breastfeeding before the birthmother has relinquished her rights is tricky on several levels:  you would need her permission as well as that of the hospital.  But once the birthmother has signed that paper and the transfer of custody is made, you are the parent and it is your choice alone how your baby will be fed and nurtured. 

Regarding the how-to’s, the Newman-Goldfarb protocol mentioned above is amazing:  I used it myself and have worked with several clients who have used it successfully as well.  However, it is not right for every adoptive mother in every situation and there are other excellent approaches to inducing lactation as well.  For more information, see

The best way to start is to set up an appointment with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) who has experience working with adoptive mothers.  The above website has information to help you find one.

Good luck!!

Posted by Alyssa IBCLC on Aug 20, 2013 at 7:08pm

I did the Newman-Goldfarb protocol, and didn’t have any match in mind when I started.  I worked from home, so I had a great deal of flexibility.  What I did was go on the BCP+Domperidone phase of the protocol (no herbs or pumping) until I had the significant breast changes they talk about.  Around that same time (about 3.5-4 months?) we had a hospital referral that fell through before we were matched.  But, I had told the agency we preferred a hospital referral over a long match (I worry that I’d feel like I’m pressuring/coercing an expectant parent) so I knew I might have a baby in my arms any day after that.  I started phase 2 (pumping, Domperidone, herbs, stop the BCP) and pumped every 2 hours during waking hours only.  That was easy to do, and I started seeing results, which was really helpful.  I had a very small supply and a small stash a few weeks later when we were matched with another hospital referral that resulted in our daughter coming home with us.  As soon as we were matched with her, I started night pumping, but that was only for about a week during the legal risk period before termination of parental rights. 

That’s what worked for me.  The most helpful thing was to thoroughly read up on the guidelines at and then to use the Find A Lactation Consultant Tool:  I searched by Zip code, and then clicked the “More Info” link under each until I found some that listed adoptive nursing and/or relactation as specialties.  I got in touch with them via phone and was able to get referrals to doctors who were comfortable with the protocols and the medications involved, guidance when I had questions, advice on latch problems when they popped up, pump rental, Moby wraps, and Lact-Aid supplies and advice.  It was excellent!

Posted by Thalas'shaya on Aug 21, 2013 at 1:04am

I posted a thread titled “you can do it!’ in 2011.  It’s archived I think, but I’ll copy it for you here.  This totally worked for me, although I had an edge, having breastfed before.  Also FYI I am still comfort nursing both my adopted kids at bedtime - they are 2 and 3 1/2.  The bond is just incredible.  I love it!  Good luck to you!  PM me if you’d like to chat more.

After having 2 natural children and breastfeeding them both, I knew I wanted to have the same bond with my adopted third child.  I was able to relactate using the Newman Protocol, which also is reportedly effective for women who have never lactated as it uses hormones to induce milk gland growth, together with the medication domperidone to increase prolactin.  The birth control pills are then stopped 6 weeks before the birth of the baby and you begin pumping and taking the herbs blessed thistle and fenugreek.  I used this protocol and was able to bring in very nearly a full supply of milk for my new baby - I even had 60 oz in the freezer when he was born!  When he began to eat more than I could keep up with, I supplemented with donor milk.  I have chosen to pasteurize the donor milk at home, although many choose to use donor milk without pasteurizing if they feel comfortable that the donor has been adequately tested for HIV and hepatitis.  I realize heat treating destroys the immunologic properties of the milk, but it still is better for him than formula and he is getting his immune boost from my milk.  My little guy is 10 months old and we are still nursing, and he has never had one drop of formula.  Here are some links:

Newman Protocol:

Where to get Domperidone (not available in the US): (and many other places!)

Donor milk:
(also “eats on feets” and “human milk for human babies,” on facebook)

Home pasteurization (from a guide for HIV+ women in Tanzania): job aids/pdfs/english/engheattreatinsert4web.pdf

I encourage any mom who is interested to try it.  The nursing relationship is so precious, it is worth all the work, and the benefits of breast milk are irreproducible.

Posted by zambarano on Aug 21, 2013 at 7:37am

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