BENGALURU : Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs) and adoptive parents (AP) can have a great start at parenting by breastfeeding their adopted babies,’’ says certified lactation educator, Chetana Mrunalini.
Discussions on whether adoptive parents can breastfeed or 'chestfeed' their adoptive babies has been doing the rounds on online forums ever since Maxamillian Neubauer (from Wisconsin, USA) became an internet sensation overnight for being the first dad to 'chestfed’ his baby, Rosalia. Though 78 per cent of all adopted children are below the age of four (according to 2017 statistics by the Central Adoption Resource Authority), only a small percentage of adoptive parents are aware that adopted babies can be breastfed/chestfed, she adds.
Highlighting the lack of awareness, Chetana recollects visiting her specialised adoption agency (child care institution), post-adoption, for some paperwork. "Not just men, even women staff were stunned when they saw me breastfeed my three-and-a-half-year old daughter (adopted when she was five months),’’ she says, adding that due to lack of awareness among the staff facilitating adoption of babies, PAPs are not likely to receive counselling on lactation. Chetana, who specialises in home visits to counsel parents, says breastfeeding gives a chance for parents to bond with their adopted babies.
Induced lactation sans hormones
"Breast milk helps babies both physically and emotionally. No formula food comes close to imitating all the properties in human milk. But what is required is a willingness of both parents and the baby,’’ she says. The mother of two, including one biological daughter, says that one need not take hormones or medication to induce lactation or for 'relactating’. "Lactation can be induced in humans without having to give birth. Mammary glands, on being stimulated over a period of time, starts producing milk.
How much stimulation, how long and how much milk is produced, differs from person to person,’’ she informs. Induced lactation, she admits, is hard work. Getting professional help from lactation experts makes the journey easier. Chetana says that a lactation aid, known as supplemental nursing system, can be made at home. If APs decide not to lactate, they can attempt bonding through ways such as skin-to-skin or 'Kangaroo care' and water baths. "All in all, a loving environment and stable home are more important,’’ she says.
Where K’taka stands in adoption
Karnataka is ranked second after Maharastra in facilitating adoptions (2016-17). In-country adoptions stood at 273 (2015-16) and 286 (2016-1) according to Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA).
Breastfeeding support for Indian moms
Lactation educator Chetana Mrunalini has been extending help to mothers through a Facebook group ‘Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers’. For futher details, contact members in the group, or Chetana at firstname.lastname@example.org.