INDUCED lactation for adoptive parents is not something new, but it is something we seldom hear about.
It was a pleasant surprise to see it included in the PRISMA 2015 conference programme.
Dr Faridah Idris, lactation consultant, medical lecturer and haematologist at Universiti Putra Malaysia, conducted a workshop on “Induced Lactation – An Overview (Supporting Adoptive Parents)”.
According to her, bonding is possible even by adoptive parents and one of the ways, not the only way, is through breastfeeding.
She said that many want to do it for bonding purposes and to provide their best for the infant, even though the child is adopted.
“Of course, breastfeeding an adopted child will not come as easily as breastfeeding a biological child. Some might give full breastfeeding to the child, but probably most cannot.
“Get your expectations right and please don’t believe the drama effect,” she said, explaining that the reality is far from what is depicted on TV dramas where the mother goes for an injection and three days later, she is able to breastfeed.
“It is not that easy. Don’t believe those dramas.
“It is not an easy journey so you have to be mentally prepared.
“This is not only a task for the mother but also a task for the family as a whole. It involves the support system, not only from the family and spouse, but also the employer, if the mother is employed, and healthcare givers and the caregivers. When the mother goes to work, the baby needs to be sent to somebody and the caregivers have a role to play,” said Dr Faridah.
She said that while a lot of preparations need to be done, not many mothers have the opportunity to prepare before the adopted baby comes. In Malaysia, when you adopt, often you only find out at the last minute, so there is really no time to prepare.
She recommended that parents prepare as much as they can, such as finding a good support system in advance – doctor, lactation consultant or peer counsellor.
“It’s challenging but not impossible. You need to plan things out. You need to see the lactation consultant or peer counsellor repeatedly. If the baby is two weeks or the baby is one year old when you get him or her, it’s very different in terms of management.
“You also need to manage your expectations. It’s probably quite unrealistic to say you want to fully breastfeed your adopted baby from Day One. What type of medication you take and what kind of pumping schedule to have – all these need to be discussed with your doctor, lactation consultant or peer counsellor.
“Every mother and baby pair is unique. One protocol might work for one pair but might not be suitable for another,” she explained.
Dr Faridah even introduced a couple who are successfully breastfeeding their adopted son. The couple explained that although lactation is possible, the milk is not as bountiful as those breastfeeding their biological babies.