Ask Judy: Breastfeeding An Adopted Baby

Dear Judy, I noticed that your signature says you are a doctor and since your blog is about breast feeding do you mind if I pick your brain a little? I was wondering if you had any info on starting to nurse a baby at four months old – we are adopting and expect the baby to come home at about four months old since I had an oversupply when my daughter was born I have worked at keeping it up and know i have enough milk but I wonder how easy/difficult it will be for the new baby to latch and nurse. Do you have any thoughts?

Thanks for writing to Mommy News & Views! How exciting that you will be getting an adopted baby and how wonderful that you will be able to breastfeed him. Most of the difficulties that moms have with adopted babies is getting their milk supply established – so you already have that one figured out. I would suggest calling your local LLL or a lactation consultant for tips on getting the baby to latch on. Since he will be 4 months old, he is going to be used to taking a bottle and it may be difficult for him to latch. I would recommend the following tricks:

      1) The taste of breastmilk is going to be different than formula, so he may not like it at first. Try giving it to him in a bottle first to see if he minds the taste at all. If he does, you may have to gradually get him used to it by mixing it 50-50 with formula and then slowly lowering the amount of formula and increasing the amount of breastmilk.
      2) When you feed him with the bottle, hold him close and tilt him toward you so that he gets used to the position he would be in if he were nursing.
      3) Try to get him to latch. He probably won’t know how to. You can start by making sure his lips are flanged well on the bottle and get a good latch there and then try on your body. He may take to the breast without a problem, but it is more likely that he won’t recognize the texture and may not even know to suck. You may need to resort to using a nipple shield (read these two posts for more info: Does My Son Have Nipple Confusion and Nipple Shields Helping Mother And Baby). The shield will feel more like a bottle, but he will be getting breastmilk.
      4) Milk comes out of a bottle much faster than from the breast – so you may want to pump until your milk starts to let down and then try latching him on (at least in the beginning).

You can find more great information on the Kelly Mom site.

Please let me know how it goes! And feel free to ask questions any time. Congrats again on the arrival of your adopted baby!!

Do you have experience getting an adopted baby to latch on? Do you have other tips for getting a baby to latch if they have nipple confusion? We’d love to hear from you! Please share your stories by leaving a comment.

4 comments to Ask Judy: Breastfeeding An Adopted Baby

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