This guest post is by Mira G, a hopeful adoptive parent
My husband and I arrived at our adoption journey through the twists and turns of infertility.
Once we decided that biology wasn’t a necessity for creating our family, and then decided that pregnancy was also not required for us to happily have a family together.
So we began to move forward with the requirements in Ontario to become Adopt Ready.
We completed our P.R.I.D.E. training, survived our home study, registered with every adoption licensee we could manage, and are now left with the wait.
Through all of the other steps of this path there has always been something to do, paperwork to complete, questions to answer, things to check off the list.
Now we are left with literally nothing to do but wait. So to fill some of the spare time the wait leaves you with, we decided that it would be the perfect time to slowly design our perfect nursery and induce lactation in order to be able to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding was always a parenting choice that my husband and I wanted to make. When it came to our children we both felt that breast milk was exactly what our children would need to thrive.
But after our failed fertility treatments, I was upset to realise that this wasn’t something I was going to be able to do. I felt cheated by my body.
Because being a mom was so important to me, breastfeeding our baby was something I was looking forward to, and just like that everything that I felt defined me as a woman (pregnancy, giving birth, nourishing with my own milk), was gone.
Luckily I was very wrong,
I learned that not only is adoptive breastfeeding feasible, it is also a very special way to develop an extraordinary bond of trust and attachment with your baby.
My husband was skeptical at the beginning, but with education came acceptance, which eventually evolved into joy that this was a possibility.
As described at the website asklenore.com (an amazing resource for anyone looking to induce lactation), adoptive breastfeeding is a term used to describe a mother who breastfeeds a baby that she did not carry herself.
It’s an amazing option for an adoptive mother to be able to nurture and bond with her new addition to the family, and an option that isn’t widely discussed or understood.
Inducing lactation is a process that can be as simple at just putting baby to breast, or as detailed as a combination of prescriptions, herbs, and any other galactagogues (a food or drug that promotes or increases the flow of a mother’s milk).
For the purpose of this blog post, I will mainly focus on the protocol that I have followed in order to induce lactation, which is the Newman Goldfarb Protocol.
Everyone responds differently to different protocols and results can vary dramatically from person to person even following the same directions.
I hope to help increase awareness of the benefits of adoptive breastfeeding and induced lactation as it seems to still be very misunderstood in many circles.
The Newman Goldfarb Protocol requires the adoptive mother to start taking a birth control pill that is at least equivalent to Ortho 1/35 (1 mg norethindrone + 0.035 mg ethinyl estradiol).
But if higher progesterone content is available, it would be preferable. She will at the same time start taking the Domperidone the same day, four times a day.
One of the side effects of Domperidone is the increase of milk production, probably by increasing prolactin production by the pituitary gland.
Prolactin is the hormone that stimulates the cells in the mother’s breast to produce milk. Domperidone increases prolactin secretion indirectly, by interfering with the action of dopamine, whose action is to decrease the secretion of prolactin by the pituitary gland.
Domperidone is generally used for disorders of the gastrointestinal tract (gut) and has not been released in Canada for use as a stimulant for milk production.
However, this does not mean that it cannot be prescribed for this reason. Rather, its manufacturer does not back its use for increasing milk production.
I was on this protocol for 9 months which is the maximum timeline this would be recommended, as it’s the same timeline as infant gestation and it gives the breasts the perfect amount of time to prepare themselves for milk production.
If you are interested in learning more about inducing lactation and adoptive breastfeeding please check out the following amazing resources:
When I made my doctor’s appointment to get my prescriptions written up for the protocol, I was terrified. I was worried about being judged and, mostly, I was worried that my request would be turned down.
I came prepared to plead my case to my doctor and I was prepared with a print-out of the protocol (which I printed off of the Asklenore website) which included a fully detailed package with the different types of birth control which are the most suitable for the protocol.
I was the first patient that came to my doctor for adoptive breastfeeding, and he was very excited to work with me to reach my goal.
He did want to monitor me properly by having me get an EKG monthly as it is thought that, under certain conditions, domperidone may increase the QT interval on ECG (if you are interested in reading the most recent statement on domperidone please follow this link. It gets a lot more in depth that what I can get into here).
Luckily I have no underlying condition that would cause any doctor to feel concerned about me taking a regular oral dose of domperidone. I left the doctor’s office that day with a pretty amazing feeling of support and understanding.
When I went to the pharmacy to get my prescription filled, the pharmacist was a bit puzzled with the combination and pretty straightforwardly asked me if I was inducing lactation.
He was thrilled with my story, and was super excited to hear how things had progressed. His wife is a lactation consultant and he fully supports and encourages women who are able to breastfeed to do so.
I felt my team and support group was getting a little larger, which also increased my confidence that much more.
I told myself I may really be able to do this!
Skip nine long boring months of taking my prescriptions and showing beautifully clear EKG’s. I’m pumping 6 times daily (in fact, I’m pumping as I type this), and frozen breast milk is taking over my freezer more and more each day.
What started as drops that couldn’t even make it to the bottle, is now 2 or 3 ounces at a time. That’s enough to feed a newborn. I may not be able to create one myself but I can sure as heck feed one!.
I have gone from hating my infertile failure of a woman form that I call a body to being in awe of my being.
I feel like a woman again, and a powerful one at that–I can sustain life!
Breast milk is an amazing feat of nature; it’s the biological norm for our species. The World Health Organization states that breast milk is the ideal food for newborns and infants.
It gives infants all the nutrients they need for healthy development. It is safe and contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia, the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide.
Breast milk is readily available and affordable, which helps to ensure that infants get adequate nutrition. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.
My husband, Dave, was very supportive from the very beginning. There were parts of it all that made him uneasy and a bit nervous such as my having to go in for monthly EKG’s and the shadow of doubt that it casted on the process.
But as each appointment passed he became more comfortable with the idea of induced lactation, and as I became more comfortable being hooked up to a pump 6 times a day he also adjusted to the repetitive and hypnotic whir of the pump motor. It is now a part of our life.
Here’s a few words about my breastfeeding endeavour from Dave:
“When Mira first mentioned that she was going to be starting the process for breastfeeding for our future adopted child, I was more than a little confused.
I had absolutely no idea that this was a possibility, But when she explained how it was achieved I was all in (although still a little confused).
Mira is now producing our future child’s meals. Watching her prepare for our future, the time and effort that she puts into every part of it, fills me with a feeling of love that words cannot describe.
This process has confirmed what I have always known about Mira; the health and happiness of our child will be paramount. That is a wonderful feeling when looking into the future.”
This journey has taught me a lot so far. It has taught me to seek out support for what is important to me.
Adoptive breastfeeding has taught me to push my limits, and to truly trust myself with the choices I’m making as a waiting adoptive mom.
These choices ultimately are all for the wellbeing of a child that we haven’t met yet. But I want to be the best version of myself for when the time comes.
I want to be the best mom I can possibly be and I want to be confident in knowing I did everything I could to encourage the healthiest start for this child.
Mira and her husband, Dave, are hoping to grow their family through adoption after years of trying to have a family together. They are currently reside in Ontario and love spending time in nature through camping or landscaping their own private oasis on their property. Learn more about their journey at Mira’s blog, where you can also read more about her experience with adoptive breastfeeding and induced lactation.
Do you have an adoption story? Share it with our community.
Help us raise awareness about adoption. Like us on Facebook.