1. Not all nursing moms make milk.
A lot of moms who are waiting to adopt or have adopted focus on maximizing their milk supply and easily getting discouraged when they don’t produce as much as they hoped. Though there are ways to boost one’s supply (see point #5) and to provide milk for a child (see point #2) beyond one personally producing, there are nursing moms who do not produce any milk and simply use nursing (sometimes called dry nursing or comfort nursing) as a means of bonding with their child, not as a means to provide breast milk (see point #4).
2. An at-breast supplementation system can be helpful.
There are currently two at-breast supplementation systems on the market that can help moms who choose to nurse. One is the Medela SNS and the other is the Lact-aid. There are pros and cons to each system, including the number of parts, availability, and the initial and ongoing costs. These systems use a container filled with breastmilk or formula and a tubing system anchored to the breast to feed the baby.
3. Toddler and preschoolers can nurse too.
Though it can be challenging, it is possible for an older child, such as a toddler or preschooler, to learn to nurse. This can be beneficial and rewarding to a child who was nursed previously, struggles with attachment, or expresses a desire to nurse. Some children were adopted from countries where nursing after infancy is very common.
4. Nursing helps with bonding.
Whether or not a mom produces milk, nursing helps the child and mother bond. Nursing helps initiate skin-to-skin contact, eye contact, and learning and trusting in one another. Nursing can help calm an upset child and reduce anxiety. Additionally, there are numerous nutritional benefits provided to the baby if the mom is able to produce or utilizes donor milk, helping the child learn to rely on the mother to meet nutritional and emotional needs.
5. There are many ways to boost milk supply.
A woman who has never given birth or nursed a baby previously might be able to boost her supply through the use of medications (such as Domperidone), herbs (Fenugreek, for example), teas (specially made to boost supply), and foods (oats and brewer’s yeast). Some mothers choose to boost supply using all or just a few of these options.
6. Nursing can be healing.
A mom who wasn’t able to birth her child (or any child) might find nursing as a healing tool. The closeness the mom feels to her child, the responses the mother’s body has to her child’s cries, and the deeply-rooted desire to nurse and follow through with that desire can be beautiful and personally rewarding.
7. Adoptive nursing is becoming increasingly discussed and practiced.
Adoptive nursing used to be fairly rare unless the mother had recently had a biological child and then adopted a child, and certainly, there was very little discussion of what adoptive nursing is and its benefits. Today, however, there are social media groups (Adoptive Breastfeeding being one of them), blogs, and books (Breastfeeding Without Birthing by Alyssa Schnell) dedicated to adoptive nursing. There is more support and information available than ever before.
8. Nursing helps mom feel like a real mom.
Adoption means that there will be questions and demands for authenticity. Parents by adoption are often asked questions about their children’s “real” parents or “real” families. Choosing to nurse a baby by adoption can instill confidence and security in the mother, helping her stand firm in her “realness” as the child’s mom. This is not to say that being a “real mom” rests in the decision to nurse a baby or not, but choosing to nurse many help some moms experience the authenticity they long for.
9. There are milk donors willing to help.
Though nursing moms may be able to purchase milk from milk banks, this can be very costly. Some moms choose to find donors on their own. Donors might be friends or family members, or women who have an abundant supply and offer to donate via Facebook groups. Moms should use caution when selecting donors.
10. Breastfeeding laws protect moms-by-adoption too.
Increasingly, breastfeeding laws have been put into place to protect a mom’s right to nurse her baby. Moms should become familiar with their rights and not be afraid to speak up when those rights are being violated. Some examples include nursing on airplanes and nursing in public places such as stores and restaurants.