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Breastfeeding is known around the world for being the healthiest option for babies, and with that comes a well known bonding experience. World Breastfeeding Week wrapped up on August 7th. KSMU’s Chasity Mayes tells us how every mother, including adoptive ones, have a choice when it comes to the bottle or the breast.
There are many benefits to breastfeeding. Everything from the nutrients it provides to the economical benefits makes it an easy choice for some mothers. However, as many mothers will tell you, the frustration and pain often put a damper on the experience. That being said, you might find it hard to believe that there are some mothers out there who go through all of the frustration simply for the bonding experience.
“The milk production isn’t necessarily the goal.”
That’s Laura Farmer. She’s the regional director of Lutheran Family Children’s Services in southwest Missouri, an organization that helps families adopting children. She says breastfeeding is more than just feeding your baby.
“And that’s what doctors really encourage women to understand. The goal is to build an attachment with the baby who is being adopted. And you know, one way to build a strong attachment with an infant is by breastfeeding. And so that’s why a lot of women are attracted to this idea,” says Farmer.
Although some moms choose to breastfeed their adopted children exclusively for the bonding experience, that’s not the goal for all adoptive mothers.
“I mean I figure at the very least I’ll be able to provide nourishment through breast milk which has such an amazing quality to it. It just cannot be artificially recreated.”
That’s Sara Ward, a soon- to- be mom. She’s leaving for Ethiopia on September 23rd and after waiting over a year to complete adoption procedures, she’s excited about being able to give her children breast milk.Ward has always wished she could breastfeed her babies, but never considered it as an option until a friend told her it was possible. Since then, Ward has been busy. She researched online how even women who have never been pregnant can actually produce breast milk through pumping. Since May, she has pumped every two hours and frozen the milk. She started taking supplements to increase her milk production in December. She says it’s already rewarding.
“It’s so worth it. I mean it’s amazing when you see that you’re able to produce milk and just knowing that you’re going to be able to provide that for your baby is an amazing thing,” says Ward.
Although Ward says she wouldn’t change a thing, she does admit that pumping milk is frustrating and tiresome. She says it’s especially important to surround yourself with support.
“It can also be very exhausting and it’s great to have someone on your side that also believes that it’s significant and will be your cheerleader whenever you get exhausted,” says Ward.
Ward says support isn’t always easy to find when it comes to breastfeeding, especially for adoptive mothers. She says some people are uncomfortable with the idea of adoptive mothers trying to breastfeed, but they don’t understand why it’s being done.
“For adopted children, especially if they’ve lived in a group setting like an orphanage, I mean feeding is done on a mass scale. So out of necessity bottles are propped up. They’re not even able to make eye contact while they’re getting fed. So, feeding becomes for them more about survival than making a connection,” says Ward.
Ward also notes that because breasts are often sexualized in Western Society many people are turned off at the thought of a woman breastfeeding her child. Ward thinks it’s important for all moms to feel comfortable discussing the issues with their doctor. She says something like breastfeeding provides a crucial sense of security for adopted babies.
“If you can breastfeed them whenever they come home to you I think you’re really sending the message that things are different now,” says Ward.
Many women who decide to breastfeed their adopted children take supplements to increase lactation. In the United States many of the FDA approved prescriptions for lactation include side effects like depression. Ward is using a supplement, but it’s not FDA approved. She chose to use Motilium, which is a lactation supplement from New Zealand because she didn’t want depression to interfere with her parenting.
For Ward, one of her most valued forms of support has been the Mother and Baby Center on National Avenue. She says they provide a lactation consultant to any mother at no cost.
“You come in with your baby and they will assist you right there with helping them latch on. And they can talk with you about the various products that you can use to help your baby become comfortable with it. And they’ll even weigh your baby for you to make sure they’re getting the proper nutrition. It’s really amazing,” says Ward.
In September, when Ward is Ethiopia bound, she’ll be bringing home not one, but two new faces to Springfield. One child will be five months and the other will be one year old.
For more information visit our website: KSMU.org.
For KSMU News, I’m Chasity Mayes.