Back in 2004, we decided to grow our family by adopting a baby. Adoption was an exciting and scary adventure that I didn't know much about at the time. One thing I did know was that breastfeeding was a big part of how I had parented the babies that I had birthed. Breastfeeding helped them be healthy and securely attached. Shouldn't my baby by adoption receive the same benefits?
I couldn't wait to learn more about how I would bring in milk for my newest baby. My enthusiasm was quickly met with disappointment. There were a couple of books available on breastfeeding an adopted baby but they were very outdated. There was some information online but that was limited. My health care provider, local lactation consultant, and breastfeeding volunteers were supportive but not informative.
So I researched. I thoroughly read the books and the online information. I went beyond my regular health care provider to find other doctors to answer my questions. I sought out adoptive mothers who had breastfed. (This was before social media!) I read articles in peer-reviewed medical journals. In the end, I had the information and support I needed.
By the time my daughter arrived, I was producing 15 ounces of milk per day. This was plenty for the first few days, and then I carefully watched her for signs she was getting enough. Was she gaining weight well? Was she stooling at least 3 times per day? Was she actively nursing for at least 10 minutes and acting content afterwards? Yes, yes, and yes. We continued to nurse without supplementation until she gradually transitioned into eating solids.
This amazing experience prompted me to take the next step -- I wanted to help others to achieve the incredible gift my daughter and I were privileged to experience. I became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
I made inducing lactation the specialty of my private practice. I wrote a book -- the book I wish I'd had! -- called Breastfeeding Without Birthing. I co-hosted the Breastfeeding Outside the Box podcast, with a focus on inducing lactation, relactation, low milk production, and other related topics. I began speaking regularly at breastfeeding conferences on these topics. And more recently, started the blog found here to continue to provide regular guidance and support for inducing lactation and relactation.
I hope that parents today will find that they have the information, support, and resources that I didn't have. You deserve it. Your baby deserves it, too.
Biography: Alyssa has been helping parents and babies with breastfeeding since 2002 and has been accredited as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) since 2009. Alyssa is a conference speaker and author of Breastfeeding Without Birthing: A Breastfeeding Guide for Mothers Through Adoption, Surrogacy, and Other Special Circumstances. She has also been featured in the Journal of Human Lactation, the Journal of Clinical Lactation, The Washington Post, Adoptive Families magazine, New Beginnings magazine, Breastfeeding Today magazine, and Leader Today magazine. Alyssa is the proud mother of three breastfed children, two by birth and one by adoption. She enjoys reading, yoga, and theater. Alyssa lives in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
"I feel that breastfeeding was the start of a lifelong connection with my children. It taught me how to listen to my children even when they didn't have the words to tell me what they needed. It showed me a gentle approach to parenting. It taught me to trust my instincts as a mother. It demonstrated the power of my own body. If this is a gift I can help other families to achieve, I can't imagine anything more rewarding than that."