Is Adoptive Breastfeeding Freaky and Gross?
Creating a Family has long had the most extensive resources available online for educating and supporting adoptive moms and moms through surrogacy who want to breastfeed. Yesterday’s Creating a Family show is a great addition to our library of resources. I interviewed Alyssa Schnell, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and author of the new book Breastfeeding Without Birthing: A Breastfeeding Guide for Mothers through Adoption, Surrogacy, and Other Special Circumstances. I really like the book and her calm, reassuring, and most of all practical approach to adoptive and surrogacy breastfeeding.
Here’s the Freaky and Gross Part
As part of our resources we have two videos.
Breastfeeding the Adopted Child has been viewed about 61,000 times with 22 comments. While many of the comments on this video (and the 17 on the Breastfeeding the Internationally Adopted Child video) are from folks who think it’s a great idea, I’d say the majority are from people who view adoptive breastfeeding as, hummm, how to put this delicately… perverted. Let’s just say that the words “gross” and “freaky” feature heavily in the comments.
We all know that the anonymous nature of the Internet bring out the worst in some people, and from my experience, YouTube takes the level of civility down a notch. But even recognizing this, I think the comments reflect the feeling, if not the language, of quite a few people.
How Do Birth Mothers Feel about Adoptive Breastfeeding?
After reading these comments on the videos, I wondered if they reflected the thought of expectant woman considering adoption or birth mothers. I asked this question to a panel of birth mothers we had on a Creating a Family show. The majority thought that the idea was “kind of weird”, and would likely have turned them off to a potential adoptive family. I have no idea if this is reflective of the majority of expectant women considering adoption, but I suspect it is.
Why is Adoptive Breastfeeding Weird?
I’ve thought a lot about why adoptive breastfeeding draws such ire? I think it has to do with our society’s odd mix of obsession and discomfort with breasts in general. They are seen as sexual objects regardless of the context. Oh sure, a newborn nursing infant is viewed with almost Madonna-like awe, but the chorus of awwws quickly turns to ewwws as the baby grows. Heaven only knows what the chorus sounds like if the toddler isn’t genetically related to the mother. Oh wait, actually we do know since we’ve heard the chorus in the video comments. GGRROOSS!!!!
My Soap Box
I suppose I can live with the whole breast obsession and just chalk it up to poor child rearing, or strict potty training, or puritanical values, or something. But what really gets my goat is that I also think it reflects a deep-seated belief that adopted children don’t really belong to their adopted parents; that adopted kids are not as natural as children born to a mom, and thus not worthy of that degree of intimacy.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t think breastfeeding is necessary for attachment. Nor do I think it is a guarantee of a happy healthy life, smooth adolescence, or Harvard degree. Some adoptive mamas, however, really want to nurse their children, and there is certainly research to support that human milk is best for human babies. (This fact is so obvious that we shouldn’t need research to support it.) What could possibly be freaky or gross about that?!?
Why do you think many people are so uncomfortable with adoptive breastfeeding?
P.S. As part of our resources we have a FAQ page with Lenore Goldfarb, Ph.D., co-founder of the Goldfarb Breastfeeding Clinic and Program and co-developer of the Newman-Goldfarb protocol for Induced Lactation. Send us any questions you’d like to ask Dr. Goldfarb to info @ CreatingaFamily.org.
What We Talked About on the Show: Breastfeeding Without Birth
- What are the four keys to successful breastfeeding without giving birth?
- Where to find support for adoptive breastfeeding.
- Babies under about 8 weeks are likely to be able to latch without much problems. What about a baby over that age that is accustomed to being bottle fed. How to help them latch?
- Is there an upper limit on age that you would recommend trying to initiate breast feeding?
- How do you know if you have an adequate supply of breast milk for your child?
- How much breast milk should you be able to produce each day before you consider breastfeeding a child through adoption or surrogacy?
- How soon prior to adopting should you initiate the preparation to induce lactation?
- What “tools” would you recommend to prepare an adopted child to breastfeed?
- How to make bottle feeding more like breast feeding in preparation for training your bottle fed baby to transition to breastfeeding?
- How to make breast feeding more like bottle feeding to encourage bottle fed babies to nurse?
- What type of bottle nipple is best training for switching to the breast?
- How often should you offer the breast and breastfeed when trying to breastfeed an adopted child or child through surrogacy?
- Why do moms who have not given birth have a lower breast storage capacity?
- Let’s talk medications. What medications are recommended to induce lactation?
- How do the lactation inducing drugs work?
- How to you get these medications?
- Are these medications safe for moms and for babies?
- What research has been done on their safety?
- Why are they not allowed in the US for lactation inducing purposes?
- What protocol does Schnell recommend for successful breastfeeding by adoptive moms and moms via surrogacy?
- How do you get them? What doctor prescribes them?
- Any research specific to their safety to induce lactation for breastfeeding?
- How to find a lactation consultant that knows about inducing lactation in women who have not given birth? Lowmilksupply.org has a list.
Image Credit: clogsilk