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Adoptive Breastfeeding


Hello!  I am writing for advice, but I suppose this is also encouragement and inspiration for others!  My daughter (adopted at 1 day old) and I have been nursing for 13.5 months now!  I wrote another post about our journey, so I’ll just say here that for the past several months we have nursed once nightly (followed by a small bottle).  Then I started adding a morning or evening nursing in there sometimes (always before or after bottles &/or naps), in part so that we could work to stop the night waking but keep the nursing.  The past 6 weeks I have stopped all medication (I was on verrrry low dose domperidone, not even sure if it was doing anything), so I don’t know if I’m really producing much at all now, or if it is more bonding/attachment/habit, which is still wonderful. 

What I’m considering now is how and when to stop altogether.  It is not something I had given much thought to - the idea that I may be the one to choose/influence this!  It’s quite emotional.

Of course I can ask my la leche friends etc about this, but I somehow feel that those of us who have adopted and worked to induce lactation and are so focused on attachment may perhaps have a different sense of it?  Maybe not, it seems there’s the whole range amongst mothers who loved it, hated it, couldn’t wait to stop, grieved the loss of it when weaning etc.

Any stories or sharing would be most welcome.

Thank you!


I love breastfeeding!!  I nursed my two natural born kids until they were 18 months old each.  Each time I was disrupted from nursing before I was done - with my oldest son, I had a breast biopsy which interrupted things and with my second, I started taking Clomid to try to conceive again.  I remember nursing her for the last time and crying, knowing how much I would miss it. 

When the fertility treatments failed and we decided to adopt, I couldn’t imagine not breastfeeding.  I did my research and followed the Newman Protocol strictly, and successfully breastfed both my adopted children, producing most of what they needed until they started solids at 6 months, and supplementing with donor milk.  I guess you could say I’m a bit of a fanatic.  I stopped the domperidone when they were about 10 months old.

So, now my adopted son is 3 1/2, and my adopted daughter is 2.  I am still nursing them both at naptime and bedtime, and I don’t actually have any plans to stop right now, although I imagine if my son has not stopped on his own, I’ll stop by the time he is 4.  I am sure I am not making much milk, but I just love it, and they love it, and I am not in any rush to be done.

Keep on going until one of you feels like you want to stop, is my advice, and congratulations!

Posted by zambarano on Aug 05, 2013 at 8:51am

I am nursing my 2 yo bio daughter right now.  I haven’t nursed an adopted child so I can’t compare, but I have definitely focused on attachment with her.  My adopted kids are older and we missed out on that process, so I’ve really enjoyed the bonding with her.  I’ve never made much milk and now I doubt she gets more than a sip, but she still demands it at least once a day.  I have no plans to stop anytime soon, although I wouldn’t mind if she wanted to stop.  It’s become a game to manipulate me into letting her stay up just a few minutes longer!  I say keep going as long as you want to!  Nursing toddlers is becoming much more accepted, thank goodness.

Posted by housefrau on Aug 05, 2013 at 11:14am

Same story here! Daughter is over 3 now and still nursing for naps and nighttime and the occasional comfort nursing during the day. It works for us. I can tell you that even though i make very little milk (if any at this point), I seemed to have an easier time of the “terrible twos” than my friends (bio moms) who did not nurse through that time. I had a solution for most problems because WE could reconnect and calm down at the breast. It is a new world for me - nursing a toddler - but now that I’m in it, it makes so much sense. We are just going to stick with it until it is not working for one of us.

Posted by Ronda on Aug 06, 2013 at 12:40am

Yay, more encouragement and inspiration!

Thank you for your replies.  I was thinking of it more as the “logistics” of it, how to stop it both physically and emotionally (for both of us), when the time came (due to either of us feeling “done” with it).  But now that I hear your stories of longer-term breastfeeding, which I wholly support in those “naturally” lactating, I think of course that’s what I would like to aim for.

My concern now is that our primary nursing is when she wakes in the night, and since we co-sleep I nurse easily and so far ONCE (last week) she just went back to sleep, but generally then she wants her bottle (which we are slowing watering down more each week…).  So if I try to stop that nursing/feeding for the sake of trying to get her to sleep through the nights, then I will really have to focus on getting other nursings in during the day.  Generally those are just for a few minutes at a time though, but I guess that’s okay?

Thanks for sharing your details about not making much milk either but continuing to nurse and getting much value out of it.  I’m shocked by the number of women who quit breastfeeding altogether because they aren’t making “enough” milk - but most of us who are inducing lactation are thrilled with making any milk at all and consider that a success!

Posted by mamina on Aug 06, 2013 at 5:43am


Night weaning is a different issue! It is totally normal for them to keep nursing at night at that point, but if it is interfering with your quality of rest and ability to function the next day, then you should address it for sure. (It wasn’t until well after 2 that my little one slowed down. They are so active/distracted all day and they make up for it at night.)

A mom friend of mine worked from this list and found it helpful:

Posted by Ronda on Aug 06, 2013 at 9:22pm

Thank you Ronda!!

The last 3 nights we have tried strategy #4, and now I see it here from Sears as well! 

“(4. Awaken baby for a full feeding just before you go to bed
Rather than going off to sleep only to be wakened an hour or two later, get in a feeding when you retire for the night. This way, your sleep will be disturbed one less time, and you’ll (hopefully) get a longer stretch of sleep.)”

And no, since it is only 1 x per night it isn’t REALLY interfering or that big a deal - it’s just a pain having to get up and make a bottle after, because the nursing is just the appie! And then she cries if I leave her, but it’s hard to carry her half-asleep, and then my hubby ends up making the bottle etc.

To be honest, I think the two issues with it have nothing to do with my DD and I.  It is because my DH finds it tiring and disruptive, and because I hear about these other babies sleeping 9 or 10 or 12 hours a night straight through…  Ours slept from 9pm to 5am from 2 months old and we were blessed, but then started getting more erratic with her one waking from about 7.5 months, so that it could be 1 or 2 or 3:30 or etc and that is a LOT less easy on the body than one consistent waking at 5am…

Thanks for your advice and sharing / reminding me that this is totally normal and as long as it is working for us it’s okay - so let’s just find a way to make it work for us.

I like this closing comment from Dr. Sears as well:

” Babies will wean and someday they will sleep through the night. This high maintenance stage of nighttime parenting will pass. The time in your arms, at your breast, and in your bed is a relatively short while in the life of a baby, yet the memories of love and availability last forever. ”

Posted by mamina on Aug 14, 2013 at 10:56pm

Oh. My. God.

So we did 3 nights of feedings around 11:30 - 12:30, when SHE naturally woke up a bit.  Last night it was at 10:15.  GREAT!  So perfect!  It’s all falling into place!  Wonderful! ...NOT!  She was up for THREE HOURS, totally awake and raring to go, and then crying for ages with my DH when he took her out of bed to rock her because there seemed no way she was going to fall back in bed with me.

Lesson learned.  I think she was just in that state where you’ve had enough sleep to be awake but still overtired. 

Suddenly waking up for 30 minutes in the middle of the night seems like nothing, and I think my DH will agree!

I do find with a lot of things that if we have patience and follow her lead with gentle alterations rather than a radical shift it seems to fall into place, and usually faster than expected.

Sigh.  Tired day and tomorrow we travel… and follow her lead for waking and nursing in the night when she wants/needs to (for now!)!!

Posted by mamina on Aug 15, 2013 at 6:40pm

I’m so glad I read through this thread. My 15-month-old daughter woke up every three hours at night until she was 12 months old. I thought she would never learn to sleep through the night. When she woke she would nurse and take a bottle. At 12 months I started giving her a water bottle in place of the milk bottle, and it really seemed to help. She started waking up less, because she wasn’t anticipating getting her belly filled I think. (Like many of you, I’m still nursing but not making much milk at this time)  This was also around the time started being content to sleep in her crib at night.  (in our room ) It was a remarkable thing, when I witnessed her discovering how to put herself back to sleep. It was wonderful.
  A few weeks ago, some major teething set in , and she started waking up around 4 or 5 AM- not partial wakes but full-on standing up bawling wakes.  I’ve been pulling her into the bed with me and nursing her back to sleep, (sometimes takes a while ) and then she’ll sleep for two more hours.  This early morning
  I was considering trying to “retrain” her to put herself back to sleep. But reading this makes me feel reassured about it. I think I’ll just roll with it and see what happens. It’s really not very disruptive to me- I can catch a nap with her mid-morning.
  As far as weaning, I’m content to let her make that decision. She’s a late teether (still only has 3!) and it’s the only thing that seems to comfort her.  I can deal with the sore nipples. I cannot imagine not having this special intimacy and soothing tool.  I don’t think you can go wrong nursing for as long as it works for you both. Things like sleep routines are more critical, I think. Meaning they seem to really affect them and their ability negotiate sleep for a long time.

Posted by Lindsaybambini on Oct 29, 2013 at 8:31pm

Update! We weaned one week prior to my DD turning 16 months. We had stopped the daytime ones first, and then there were a few nights where she nursed so little or not at all in the night so I just took her lead! It went well, nothing dramatic for either of us.

As with everything else it seemed that when the time was “right” it just happened smoothly.

Here’s my latest thought on sleep though.  We don’t expect babies to do ANYTHING like adults.  So why do we expect them to sleep like adults?! (Not to mention that many adults don’t even sleep through the night!) Trying to accept that and just let any irregularities be.  Like this morning’s 5:30 am rising!

Posted by mamina on Dec 14, 2013 at 8:29am

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