A Breastfeeding Story- Adoptive Breastfeeding and Induced Lactation

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I’d like everyone to meet Jenny! She is a rock star in the breastfeeding world!

1. Tell us about your personal breastfeeding experience with your children:

My daughter joined our family via adoption when she was 10 months old. I had followed the Newman-Goldfarb Protocols for Induced Lactation for the previous 12 months so that I’d be able to breastfeed her. I amazed both my husband and myself when I was able to bring in a significant milk supply by the time we traveled to Ethiopia to pick her up. I knew at 10 months old, there was a chance she would not accept nursing at the breast. In fact, she didn’t. My daughter had been bottle fed since birth and quite possibly had never seen a breast in her life. She regarded mine as if they were alien beings and wanted nothing to do with them. But boy did she love her momma’s milk from a bottle! So for many many months I pumped around the clock and fed her my milk from a bottle, then later in a sippy cup. To make a long story short, just after she turned two years old, and just when I’d about had it with pumping and was considering stopping, my daughter decided to latch to the breast. It took about 3 weeks for us to learn to nurse comfortably and regularly. Now we are nursing pros. Even though my daughter had already been home with us for over a year when she started nursing, it has still been a wonderful part of our bonding and attachment to each other. There is a mutual vulnerability and respect when she nurses. And there’s a one-of-a-kind connection that we both recognize. It’s beautiful.

2. What is your view of breastfeeding in public, and why?

(A quick word about breastfeeding in Italy, which is where I live. People here couldn’t care less where I feed my daughter. I love it! If they see us they look, notice, smile, acknowledge and move on. It’s just considered a natural beautiful thing and not indecent in the least. Living here, it’s become very clear to me how hung up the American society is about breastfeeding in public.)

Breastfeeding in public: As a lactation consultant I have always encouraged moms in this area. I had to put my own courage to the test when my two year old finally started nursing. I chose my “first time” carefully. We went to a park on the military base where I work. Ha! Lucky for me it was deserted. We sat down on a bench in the middle of the playground and I nursed my toddler. We saw only one person the entire time my daughter nursed. I don’t think the person was even close enough to realize what we were doing. Still, it was a bit nerve-wracking and I spent the time furtively looking around, checking for observers. Since then we have nursed at the pool, the park, the food court, restaurants, shopping centers and my office at work. My view is, my daughter deserves this milk, it’s not at all about me and my comfort level. That attitute got me over any public shyness very quickly. When nursing around Americans I do try a little harder to be discreet than when I nurse around Italians or other Europeans. And if I do feel a bit uncomfortable, I just look at my daughter and ignore what’s going on around me. But you know, one thing I’ve noticed is I have NOT gotten any odd looks or comments from anyone, even on base. I know Europe is breastfeeding friendly in general, but who would have imagined a military base could be? How cool.

3. What is your view of sustained breastfeeding, and why?

There is a great fact sheet on Extended Breastfeeding at Kelly Mom. It lists several benefits of sustained breastfeeding to both mother and child. The most impressive benefits in my opinion are the nutritional and immunoprotective. Did you know that a nursing toddler can get about 1/3 of her daily calories from breast milk? Isn’t it interesting that non-nursing toddlers get sick more often and their illnesses last longer than nursing toddlers? I also really like the practice of allowing the child to decide when to wean. So much of nursing my daughter is about her comfort and security. As her mother it comes naturally to provide her as much of that as she needs. So you can guess by now that I am in favor of sustained breastfeeding. Actually, I should say I am in favor of child-led weaning, at whatever age the child is when s/he decides to end nursing. No age limit.

4. What is your view of adoptive breastfeeding, and why?

Adoptive breastfeeding amazes me. Physiologically I think it is literally incredible that a woman who has never even been pregnant is able to bring in a full milk supply in order to nurse an adopted infant or child. It’s also evidence of the immense well of love, adoration, determination, empathy, and respect that a mother has in regard to her children. It comes from the deepest mothering instinct a woman can have – to protect and nourish a vulnerable young one. You know how touching those photos are of a mother dog who adopts and nurses an orphaned kitten? Or the story of the 130 year old giant tortoise in Kenya that adopted the baby hippo in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami? Those stories are so moving because they underscore one of our greatest fears, being alone with noone to love and care for us, and illustrate the mutual joy of adoption. While adoptive breastfeeding is a phenomenon most Americans are surprised to learn of, many many adoptive mothers have discovered the healing and bonding powers of their breastfeeding relationships with their children.

5.Is there anything you find unique about your breastfeeding story with your children?

Each mother and child’s breastfeeding story is personal and unique. :-)

6. Is there anything you wish you did differently?

Nope! My daughter learned to nurse on her own time, when she was ready, and she’ll continue to nurse as long as she wants to. This experience has been incredible for our whole family, even my husband and teenaged stepson. My stepson is learning what breasts are really for, that it’s natural and normal to nurse your baby/child. What a healthy thing for a teenaged boy to learn! Breastfeeding is so special to my daughter that she often wants to share her milk with her other parent, her dad. She’ll point to my other breast while nursing, wanting her dad to nurse too (no,we don’t do that, but we think it’s so sweet of her to offer!). Or, she’ll want her dad or brother to sit right next to her while she nurses so she can put her arm around his neck or play with his hair. There are so many awesome things about my daughter breastfeeding. At the very least this has been a wonderful bonding experience for all of us, we wouldn’t change a thing!

7. Is there anything you would like to add?

I am a wife, mom, nurse and internationally certified lacation consultant. I live and work at a US military base in Italy. My daughter is featured on my public blog at www.mygirlscurls.blogspot.com.

 



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33 comments

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  1. Brandis @ Crunchy Thrify Cool 17 August, 2011, 12:11

    So much awesomeness, I don’t even know where to start! Jamie- you were right, total rock star. I wouldn’t have had the patience to pump that long, or to continue to work on trying to breastfeed an uninterested toddler for over a year! Amazing.

    Reply this comment
  2. Jen Briola 18 August, 2011, 12:02

    I was honored to have met Jenny, Mario, and sweet baby H when they first became a forever family in Ethiopia at the same time that we picked up our son. I breastfed my two biological sons for 2 years each, and I remember both encouraging Jenny and being amazed at her commitment and love for her daughter when it came to breastfeeding. I am so happy to learn that she finally took to your breast Jenny! How beautiful for you, her, and your whole family! Rockstar, indeed.

    Reply this comment
  3. Megan A South 18 August, 2011, 15:42

    You’re an inspiration to other Moms and adoptive moms out there I think. As a Mom myself who re-lactated after I stopped pumping and did that for 9.5 months it was tiring, but well worth it. I tried to get my son to latch like you did with your daughter, but he too had treated my breasts like they were some alien object out to get him. I didn’t force it and understood why and took no offense to it. He had been on bottle since he was in the NICU as a baby. Now I curious as to if he would of considered nursing when he gets older if I had still pumped. It amazes me that she took to it later on. :)

    Reply this comment
  4. Janet Titmus Delettera CNM 18 August, 2011, 15:45

    Whoa, God bless your boobs. You have given your girl an enormous boost in this life with the richness of your milk. It boggles the mind…her life might have been so much less, and you have filled it with as much love and health as anyone could possibly muster.

    Reply this comment
  5. Charlotte A 18 August, 2011, 15:53

    This has gottt to be the MOST touching story I have ever heard, indeed, how special is that?

    Reply this comment
  6. Alexandra 18 August, 2011, 16:28

    Amazing woman!! Do you mind if I add a link to this story on my blog? Would love to share it!

    Reply this comment
  7. sophia 18 August, 2011, 17:05

    just amazing jenny! very inspirational. i too am an adoptive mom and i am nursing my bio son who is almost 6 months old. my adopted son is 20 months. (he drinks expressed milk and loves it.) he sometimes seems interested in my nipple but never tries to drink himself. i did offer him my breast the other day and he was hysterically laughing with my nipple between his lips. it was quite funny but i think we both felt weird about it and i haven’t tried it again.

    i love your bf pics, you and your daughter are just beautiful! thank you for sharing!

    Reply this comment
  8. valerie 18 August, 2011, 17:11

    I agree with how hung up the American society. In Argentina people look at breastfeeding the same way as in Italy — I remember when I first took my husband there, which is where I’m from. We visited family and I remember that my cousin was still breastfeeding at the time and she just happened to pull out her breast to breastfeed her 2 year old son, the look on my husband’s face was unforgetable, since he wasn’t used to that it was pure culture shock. I just don’t get what the big deal is 1) its just a breast and 2) its feeding a child. What is the big deal I just dont get it!

    Reply this comment
  9. Teglene Ryan 18 August, 2011, 19:52

    I am so excited to read another adoptive breastfeeding story! I’m currently breastfeeding my 2 year old adopted baby and it has been, and continues to be, such an amazing experience. No matter the circumstances, adoption begins with a loss for the child, and this kind of bonding with the adoptive mother is much more valuable than most people realize.

    Thank you for sharing your story! I’m going to post a link to it from my blog which has my adoptive breastfeeding story!

    http://thebreastfeedingmother.blogspot.com/

    Reply this comment
  10. Michelle 18 August, 2011, 20:35

    LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. AMAZING. And what a blessing that she started nursing at 2 years!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  11. Amanda 18 August, 2011, 21:48

    I love that she’s rockin’ the purple sunglasses while getting some num num …as we call it here at home with my 1 ye old

    Reply this comment
  12. Jennifer Beal Ostlund 19 August, 2011, 01:40

    I posted yesterday but when I tried to log in it all got erased. So here it goes again…I knew Jenny before the first time she came to our breastfeeding support group but not on a personal level. I was so excited to see her there because I had heard about adoptive breastfeeding before but had never known anyone who had done it. I remember her telling me story after story of her trying to get H to nurse. She would be so close, but would never latch on. Then the day came and I read an email she wrote about H finally latching on and nursing. I had tears in my eyes and was so excited for them. It just goes to show you what determination and will can do! Where there’s a will there’s a way, for sure!! Great job, Jenny!!

    Reply this comment
  13. kirsteen anderssen 19 August, 2011, 12:31

    I’ve been expressing for my son since he was 5 weeks old, as he was premature and wouldn’t latch. He’s now 13 months old. I’d been told there’s no way he would do so at this age. How did you do it? I’d love to know…

    Such an inspirational story… thanks xx

    Reply this comment
  14. rtyecript 22 August, 2011, 16:00

    I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

    Reply this comment
  15. Nedra 23 August, 2011, 11:32

    That is so inspiring to me! I’m currently trying to teach my 10mo girl to take the breast again. I had inverted nipples and little support when she was a newborn and the pain and bleeding led me to resort to exclusively pumping from 3 weeks on. I didn’t learn it was possible to teach an older baby to latch until recently. After pumping for 10 months, my nipples are now drawn out easily, and I have the milk supply, If only she would latch! I’d definitely be interested in seeing those videos too Jenny!

    Reply this comment
  16. Charlotte Riersgard 24 August, 2011, 12:20

    As a friend of the family and former co-worker, I was fortunate to observe this beautiful story of the love that blessed this family.. Jen was completely dedicated to doing what was best for her baby and giving her the best nourishment possible. Her family was supportive; and love, determination and gathering of credible information all helped this successful breastfeeding. And I must add, their beautiful daughter with her bright spirit completed the picture. She’s a joy. Well done! miss you, char

    Reply this comment
  17. Jenny 25 August, 2011, 11:27

    I am so touched by all the supportive comments. Thank you.

    Here’s the YouTube channel I was talking about called BreastfeedingBabies’s Channel:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/breastfeedingbabies?blend=1&ob=4&has_verified=1#p/a/u/2/942FRjAJhxU

    Enjoy! Jenny

    Reply this comment
  18. Laura Gililland 25 August, 2011, 12:11

    Jennifer–I am fortunate enough to know this story from the very beginning…to even participate in the adoption process. Your love and dedication to your daughter should serve to inspire not only other adoptive parents, but all parents. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Reply this comment
  19. marito 8 September, 2011, 15:06

    E’ una storia bellissima, unica… Sono un marito molto fortunato per quanto stai facendo per la nostra piccola H e per come hai saputo coinvolgere e far partecipe anche Dado…
    Grazie sei GRANDE
    Love you

    Reply this comment
  20. michelle hickman 29 December, 2011, 20:41

    hi, I’m the Target nationwide nurse-in mom that sparked it all because i refused to move while nursing my baby in Target. I have the priviledge and honor of meeting tons of mommies like me who have been ridiculed and bullied for nursing in public despite my legal right to do so. I have been nicknamed the Rosa Parks of nursing moms and find that a great honor to be referenced to someone in history that was such a commendable woman. I have gotten international requests from media outlets to share my story and they all ask now that the nurse-in at Target was complete am I satisfied and am I done. I tell them no, I will not stop until my baby is afforded the same American born natural citizen civil rights as everyone else and is not discriminated upon because of his age and his food (breastmilk).
    In 1896 it was legal to have segregation in public areas included separate eating areas in restaurants, but in 1964 the civil rights act made it illegal to segregate people based on race, color, religion or national origin in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations.
    Today in 2011 society in the USA feels it’s ok to request that nursing mother’s and babies use segregating eating areas…..and that my friends is the civil rights issue at hand. I will not stop until national legislation is passed that allows my baby to eat in unsegregated areas. Join me to stop discrimination of babies. Babies are American’s too. Contact legislators and don’t stop until we get change for our babies.

    Reply this comment
  21. Debra Cuming 17 May, 2012, 11:32

    Jenny, your story is so incredibly inspirational. Your daughter is so incredibly lucky to have you. x

    Reply this comment
  22. heloísa vianna 30 May, 2012, 21:06

    hi, Jamie and Jenny!
    i write a blog about motherhood in brazil and have just share this post there: http://www.ciadasmaes.com.br/blog/amamentacao-de-filho-adotivo-sim-e-possivel/
    hope there’s no problems about it. ; )
    xxx

    Reply this comment
  23. Shaina Kumar 17 October, 2013, 07:27

    Thanks so much for your story! I plan to adopt (sometime in the next five years or so) and find the idea of breastfeeding an adoptive child super exciting!

    Shaina

    Reply this comment
  24. Kate 17 October, 2013, 08:09

    Love this story! I think it’s so funny about the nursing in public thing! I’m an American living in Australia. I feed my kids anywhere without thinking about it and nobody gives a hoot. I know that wouldn’t be the case if I were in the US though…

    Reply this comment
  25. Jenny 27 April, 2014, 00:18

    Jenny here, the mother interviewed for this story. My daughter is now five years old and still nursing! A few months ago I started a Facebook group called Adoptive Breastfeeding specifically for mothers who are or plan to be nursing a baby they did not give birth to. It is a wonderfully positive and supportive group. Please request to join us if you are also going through lactation induction and would like support. :-)

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