Breastfeeding a child you adopted is an amazing feat. It takes incredible dedication and willpower to succeed. The gift you are giving your child and the bond you will build will be priceless. Once you are able to breastfeed, it will take continued dedication to continue breastfeeding and build up your supply. Here are a few things you will absolutely need when breastfeeding and why it is so important to maintain a healthy view of the process.
Many would think this would be a no-brainer. Hydration is key to successful breastfeeding for so many reasons. Breastfeeding will require you to be more hydrated than you may have ever been before. Hydration not only increases your milk supply, but it helps to keep the supply steady. Staying hydrated keeps you healthy and keeps your body functioning the way it should. While you may be tempted in those early days to hydrate with coffee, it is best to stick with water, water with lemon, and drinks like Gatorade that will replenish electrolytes.
Breastfeeding does not come easy. This is especially true when an adoptive parent has had to use supplements in order to build up the ability to breastfeed their child. Not only will this take time, but breastfeeding is not always possible. It will take time for you and your child to get in sync as well, just as it would in a biological situation. Stay patient and be accepting of the fact that it will take time. It is hard for any new mom to not feel like they are failing when breastfeeding does not go exactly as planned. Take a deep breath. Allow yourself and your child the time to get a handle on things. Know that you are not a failure if breastfeeding does not work out.
Breastfeeding is a very intimate action and can help with the bonding process tremendously. However, whether a child is adopted or biological, breastfeeding does not always come easy. Even when it is easy, it is a much smoother process when you have a support system to help you along the way. When I breastfed my eldest biological son, he took to breastfeeding right away. My supply seemed good, but I was terrified as a new mom that he was not getting enough. I was able to reach out to a lactation consultant who gave me signs to look for in regards to dehydration to assure me he was getting enough nourishment. I also had a great friend who made herself available to me 24/7 in case I had questions or concerns. Having that support was invaluable. You can also find fantastic support at the “Breastfeeding the Adopted Child” forum at Adoption.com. The more support, the better.
I had planned to breastfeed my son for 6 months. I was determined to make it work. He latched immediately and we were off to a great start. Breastfeeding came easy and my supply came abundantly. Unfortunately, I also experienced emotions I never knew I would feel. Each time I breastfed, instead of feeling the bonding emotions most women talk about, I felt intense dread, anxiety, and depression. I later discovered that I had a condition known as D-Mer that causes depression when breastfeeding. While I tried to power through it, I had to stop breastfeeding at just 6 weeks. While I felt stable emotionally, I also felt like a failure. But I wasn’t alone; one of my close friends had to stop breastfeeding at 8 weeks due to her milk supply drying up. I hear from countless women who feel like failures as their plan to breastfeed their adopted child did not work. Having to feed your baby formula for any reason is not a failure. The key here is that you tried and that your baby is fed. Most moms are giving their all and want to do anything they can for their child. Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience, but it is vital to remember that it is not what makes or breaks you as an amazing mom.