Expert tips by Lynne-McKensey Hall IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and Baby Hints & Tips Breastfeeding Expert
It might surprise you to know that more women can breastfeed than those who are unable to (for whatever reason). We have the ability to produce enough breast milk for one or more babies at one time, adequately provide for a pre-term baby, potentially relactate after weaning and potentially induce lactation as an adoptive or surrogate mother. Women are amazing!
Research into breastfeeding, breast anatomy and physiology has dramatically changed our understanding of what women can achieve with breastfeeding. We understand how imperative postnatal skin to skin contact is for establishing and promoting bonding and the breastfeeding relationship between mother and baby. Similarly we know of the importance of providing colostrum and ongoing breast milk to pre-term and vulnerable babies.
Having a breastfeeding plan (make it in consultation with an IBCLC or qualified lactation consultant) will certainly improve your chances of positive breastfeeding outcomes regardless of how you provide breast milk in the situation relevant to you.
Mothers often choose to relactate after weaning if their baby becomes ill or they are in a disaster situation where water quality cannot be guaranteed. Expressing on a needs basis can bridge the gap until the baby or young child resumes breastfeeding. Patience may need to be the greatest virtue here while your IBCLC provides all the tips, strategies and interventions available to help a mother build up her milk supply while gently encouraging the baby back to the breast.
The greatest gift many adoptive and surrogate mothers have been able to give their non biological babies is to breastfeed or provide some, if not all, of their baby’s breast milk requirements. There are recognised protocols to induce lactation and many women are willing to follow the recommendations. They include a regime of drug therapy in combination with breast and nipple stimulation, expressing and breastfeeding. Some mothers may need to use a supplementary feeding system with expressed milk to support their milk supply, be it temporarily or permanently.
Regardless of how often these mothers breastfeed or provide breast milk to their babies, it is a wonderful outcome for their babies and themselves. Many inspirational stories have been written by or can be heard from adoptive or surrogate mothers who have successfully breastfed their babies, in spite of the challenges they faced. They are committed in their dedication to do the best they can for their babies.
‘Multiple, Pre-term, Adoptive & Surrogate Babies and Relactating’ offers further insights and strategies for you if any of these situations are relevant to you in the sixth of my eight-booklet series Breastfeeding and Baby Matters available to purchase at www.betterbeginnings.com.au
Lynne-McKensey Hall has over thirty years’ experience in nursing, midwifery, nurse education and lactation management. She now works as an IBCLC in her private practice Better Beginnings in Sydney, Australia. Lynne has just released Breastfeeding & Baby Matters, a series of eight booklets available from Better Beginnings. She is also available for phone 0419 245 966 and Skype consultations. To see all of Lynne’s articles, click here.