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Adoptive mom wants to breastfeed at the hospital

Dear Megan,

My baby is due in three months, and I love the couple I have picked to adopt her.  But now all the uncomfortable conversations are happening.  I want to make sure I’m doing what’s best for my baby, not for me and the adoptive parents.  Is it bad or not helpful for me to breastfeed at the hospital?  Or should I pump or bottle feed?  Adoptive mom wants to try to breastfeed and send her milk to the hospital.  She’s also suggesting that she’ll come to the hospital to breastfeed there.  This isn’t going to work because I don’t want them at the hospital.  I want three days alone with my baby before I sign the relinquishment.  They are worried that they will not be able to “bond” with her soon enough.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you, J.

Dear J.,

I’m so glad you reached out.  These are really good questions, and I hope that my response is helpful.  

bonding with a newbornDiscuss bonding and attachment disorders with your doctor

It’s true that skin on skin contact and bonding with the baby as soon as possible are all good for baby, and for adoptive parents.  I don’t believe your baby will have attachment disorders, however, if the adoptive parents don’t start to physically bond until 3 days after birth.  As long as someone is holding and loving the baby from birth, whether it’s you or your family, baby should be fine.  Bonding and attachment disorders are things to discuss with your doctor.

Breastfeeding is a little more complicated.  Most newborns don’t eat a lot in the first few days.  This is because it can take some time for a mother’s milk to come in.  Most women start breastfeeding right away to get the colostrum to the baby, to practice latching on, and to stimulate the breast so the milk will come in.  With this in mind, I don’t know that you will need adoptive mom’s breast milk during the 3 days you spend with your baby before signing paperwork.  Of course, you can breastfeed if you want to, so baby will get your colostrum.  As you probably know, colostrum provides health benefits to your baby.

Weigh the pros and cons of breastfeeding your baby 

The health benefits of colostrum through breastfeeding might not be worth it, however.  Generally speaking, I don’t recommend that birth mothers breastfeed their babies for two reasons.  The first is that it will cause your milk to come in, and this can be very painful, especially when you will only be breastfeeding for a few days.  This is another good issue to discuss with your doctor.discuss attachment disorders with your doctor

The second reason is that breastfeeding will almost certainly make it harder for you to go through with the adoption.  Breastfeeding is an opportunity to further bond with your baby, and the more bonding that happens, the harder it is to detach.  Again, talk with your doctor about the benefits of breastfeeding, and consider whether these are outweighed by the difficulty you will have in detaching from your baby when the time comes. 

If you choose not to breastfeed, and later decide to parent your baby, your doctor (or a lactation expert) can tell you how to successfully start breastfeeding later during the post-partum period.

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Prospective adoptive parent fears

I’m sure the adoptive couple are very nervous about that 3 day period of time and breastfeeding.  If I was them, I’d be afraid that you will bond with the baby to an extent that you won’t be able to detach.  This is a really valid concern and something to take to heart as you consider your options.  The adoptive parents, and your baby, benefit from early bonding, so take this into consideration as well.  

Talk with your doctor about bonding and attachment disorders as well as the breastfeeding pros and cons I’ve mentioned.  Getting your doctor’s advice about these issues might help in your discussions with the adoptive parents.

I hope this is helpful!  Best of luck to you 🙂

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Sincerely,

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Megan Cohen, Birth Attorney

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