Nursing the Adopted Infant

Cathy A. Bryant, MD
The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 19:374-379 (2006)


Background: Breast feeding is commonly accepted as the preferred method of infant nutrition for various reasons, both nutritional and emotional. For some who have become parents by adoption, there is a strong desire to induce lactation for adoptive nursing.

Methods: Information regarding adoptive nursing was initially obtained for the author’s personal experience from searching the internet and speaking with other adoptive mothers. The medical literature was also searched through OVID/MEDLINE using pertinent terms, including induced lactation, adoptive nursing, domperidone, and metoclopramide.

Results: Use of physiologic and pharmacologic methods can help an adoptive mother bring in a milk supply. The quantity may not be sufficient to entirely meet an infant’s nutritional needs. However, for many the emotional benefits remain. There is some controversy surrounding the use of domperidone and metoclopramide for induced lactation. Herbals such as fenugreek have not been researched. Physicians can help their patients understand the current tools available to assist them with this unique endeavor.

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