Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Babies and Boobies

They're not so different, really.  Squishy, squeezy, squirt-y.

Though I guess breasts that are feeding babies are mostly the ones that are squirty.  And most people know that breasts only get squirty (ok, we'll use a grown-up word), that is, bring in a supply of milk after the woman has delivered a baby and the hormones + baby suckling cues the body to start producing milk.

But what does a woman do when she has a baby she didn't give birth to?  Can she still breastfeed?

The answer, of course, is a resounding YES!  Lactation, while dramatically helped along by the hormones during labor, delivery, and immediately after birth, is primarily a result of baby's nursing and the stimulation of the nipples.

I can't tell you how delighted I was to learn that I could breastfeed any baby we brought home--biological or adopted.  Everything I know about child-rearing comes from breastfeeding mothers.  I was breastfed, my siblings were, my in-laws breastfeed, my friends do it, my nieces and nephews are breastfed.  When the baby's upset and nothing works, breastfeeding (almost always) does.  I was in a tiny bit of a panic, contemplating  adoption, and not knowing this in-grained recourse was available to me.

Of course, in my research I learned that it's rare for women (in developed countries) to bring in a full supply of milk--especially without a heavy regimen of synthetic hormones--but some milk is usually present, and my primary desire to breastfeed our children goes far beyond mere nutrition.

So the process, in a nutshell, is to pump frequently (as in: every two hours) for 6-8 weeks before the baby to be adopted is born (or available for adoption).  The pumping can be supplemented with galactagogues (those things that help boost the milk supply).  Also, it's a wise thing to pick up a nursing "trainer" that allows you to feed your baby pumped breast milk or formula at the breast (the more the baby nurses, the more milk the mother's body produces, so bottles are a no-go).  Mothers have called these trainers an "external milk duct" :)  I'll be getting one of those soon.

The court date to resolve our adoption situation is March 21.  Less than 5 weeks away... I got my breast pump rental today and started pumping.  With the hospital-grade pumps, it's only necessary to pump for 10-15 minutes, and I had no pain at all during the pumping.  My first reaction, though, was just giggles--rigging up a double breast pump and watching the suction work is, let's be honest, quite comical.  I'll be glad when I have a baby's cute cheeks to look at, instead of the see-through breast shields of the pump :)

I'll be pumping every two hours at least during the day time.. which means I'll be hauling the pump to work with me every day.  If you see me as the Bag Lady on campus, don't worry--it's just the breast pump + attachments.

I haven't decided if I want to try pumping at night, yet, though that could help to build milk supply too.  While the pressure of producing enough milk to sustain our baby is definitely off (thanks to formula), I would like to produce as much milk as I can, and only hard work and patience and self-confidence will do that!

So wish me luck!  I'm off to pump again...

and think of this little girl


  1. good luck seester! i'm so excited for you and taylor.. prayers are abounding! i love you :)

  2. You are incredible, Anne! I think this is such a wonderful thing. I will be praying for you.

    (My tip: start pumping at night about a week or two before you think you'd be bringing the baby home that way you get yourself in a bit of a routine with waking up in the night, since you'll be doing a lot of that) :)

  3. Thanks, Viv :) your love and support have helped a great deal, definitely!!

    good thought, Michelle! thanks :)

  4. haha! so great! i wish i had pumped before john was born. we had a tough time at first, but a few weeks in it was easy peasy! good luck!

  5. Wow. That was the most amazing thing I've ever read. First off, Anne, you are an amazing writer. I didn't know breast pumping could described in such tidy ways! I feel so much more knowledgeable now...
    Thanks! I'm so excited and proud of you two!!! -Abby

  6. Good luck! I admire your dedication! I went to a lactation consultant several times after my first was born and she recommended I take fenugreek and blessed thistle herbs to stimulate milk supply. Those definitely work. Without the herbs, I wasn't able to produce the milk, but with them I was just fine. (But you probably know all of this since you did you're homework.) :)