We all know there is a huge debate in the adoption community about the ethics surrounding breastfeeding in adoptive mothers. Some have even gone so far as to call this practice child abuse. The reasons stated for this will not be the same reasons that I give, however, I understand the sentiment. I have more concrete reasons for considering this child abuse. There are a wide array of reasons that people argue for and against breastfeeding in adoptive mothers. My argument will be more specific and will follow simple medical logic. Regardless of your feelings on adoption, I would hope that with facts in hand you will all see how truly horrid breastfeeding is when it comes to adoptive mothers.
First let’s take a look at how breast milk is produced in a pregnant/post-natal mother. We all know that our bodies are designed to nurture our children. The natural process includes many things and the production of breast milk needed to sustain a newborn is definitely one of the major ones.
An article on Baby Center gives a general run down on the process. I’ll summarize. It all starts with the placenta. The placenta is the life force of the unborn child. It provides it with all the nutrients it needs to grow before birth. The placenta stimulates hormones that trigger a chain of events in a pregnant woman’s body that result in the production of breast milk. Prolactin is the essential hormone in order for the final steps to take place. The production of Prolactin takes place in the pituitary gland and brain (again, from a complex set of events that started with the placenta). Without Prolactin, there is no breast milk.
This is what a woman’s body does during pregnancy. A chain of complex events is kicked off to make sure there is a milk supply to nurture that infant after the pregnancy ends. This is nature’s way. Breast feeding in adoptive mother’s is man’s way.
Wet nurses were often used during times in our human history when they were needed for various reasons. We did not have bottles and formula and to ensure the survival of an infant whose mother was not able, for a variety of reasons, to breast feed, wet nurses were often employed. It is true that wet nurses were also used by the wealthy, but that is a subject for another day. It is important to point out that the wet nurses of our yester-years produced milk naturally. These were women who had already born children and then continued to nurse so their milk supply was always at an appropriate level. The more you nurse, the more milk you will have. Supply and demand and your body knows how much to make.
Why do adoptive mothers want to breast feed babies that they did not give birth to?
Many will tell you the reason is for the health benefits of breast-feeding. Breast fed babies are generally smarter, healthier, and are given a better start due to important antibodies that are passed on to the child through the mother’s milk. But what if the adoptive mother’s milk was toxic? What if it had the potential to not only kill the adoptive mother but also the nursing infant? Are the health benefits of breastfeeding versus formula still there? Which would be safer? Along with the health benefits, many will also tell you that the bonding that comes with breastfeeding is something that is important to them. Valid point but it is sort of hard to bond with your new baby if you are dead, or worse, they are dead.
It is important to point out that formula fed babies are not, on average, dumb, unhealthy, or set on a path of fated illnesses for the rest of their lives. A formula fed baby can be healthy, happy, and nourished.
How is it possible for an adoptive mother to breastfeed if they have not gone through the natural process of pregnancy to induce lactation?
There are a variety of ways to induce lactation. There are “natural” methods that a woman can use to “trick” their bodies into milk production. These methods can include stimulation of the nipples (using a breast pump to simulate breast-feeding), herbal teas, and a variety of other benign things. These “natural” methods of induction of lactation, however, are not nearly as successful as the preferred method – artificial drugs. On average, according to an Oxford journal, the “natural” method of inducting lactation is only about 50% effective while using artificial drugs to induce lactation are about 89% effective. If you are a hopeful adoptive parent and are set on breastfeeding which statistic do you choose? Well, given all the information, any sane person would take their chances with the 50%. This is where that “health benefits and bonding” excuse for wanting to breastfeed come into question. Would you choose the method that will give you an 89% success rate over the 50% success rate if you were aware of the risks involved with that higher rate?
I don’t believe for one second that these “breastfeeding adoptive mothers” are not aware of every single health risk that comes with artificially inducing lactation. They have done their research into every orifice of the breastfeeding dilemma. If I could find this information with a few key strokes and clicks then surely they have as well. Those that continue to follow this path are endangering their life as well as the child they hope to adopt. This certainly isn’t what’s “best” for baby.
How many expectant mothers are aware that the “awesome” and “deserving” set of parents they have chosen to adopt their baby may be putting their child’s life at risk simply because they want to have a child that is “as if” born to them, including the breastfeeding aspect. Don’t give me the bull about health benefits and bonding when you know perfectly well the dangers that come with it. It now becomes about YOU and YOU alone. It becomes about your crazed desire to pretend that you have given birth to this child. It becomes about an obsession so great that you are willing to risk your life and the life of the baby to fulfill it.
Some of you may be puzzled right now and are wondering what I’m talking about. I apologize. It will soon become clear.
What drug is given to induce lactation in women who are adopting and wish to breastfeed?
In fact, a woman in an adoption group who is hoping to adopt posed the question about breastfeeding. The women in the group happily and eagerly replied citing Domperidone as the way to go. One woman even brags about how she takes 80 mg a day and her milk supply is great! She only needs to supplement with a bottle once or twice a day. See for yourself.
Because I have breastfed four babies (and dutifully pumped for the one I relinquished) I began to wonder if this drug is passed through breast milk and how dangerous it may be. Any breastfeeding mom will tell you that before they take any medications or drugs they will always check with their doctor to make sure it’s safe. Not all drugs cross through and go into the breast milk and not all drugs are harmful to the baby. Out of curiosity I decided to go to Google. That’s how I found what I found. It was the first result I got. This is why I don’t believe for a second that these breastfeeding adoptive mothers aren’t privy to the information that I have found. It isn’t a national secret. It’s readily available, and the first search result at that, just by typing “Domperidone breastfeeding” into the google search bar. So what did I find?
Well, as it turns out, for reasons of inducing lactation, the FDA has BANNED prescribing Domperidone. It’s illegal to import it into the country and only one place is even authorized, in the whole United States, to produce it – and not for lactation. This ban is in place because of the health risks, which we’ll get into shortly.
This got me wondering….who are these doctors that are prescribing this for lactation against the FDA rules? It’s illegal to import and the FDA says it cannot be prescribed for lactation. Why are these doctors prescribing it? Didn’t they take an oath? One that says, “first do no harm?” Harm is exactly what they could be doing and for what? Is it life-threatening for an adoptive mother to NOT breastfeed? No. So why would a doctor, sworn to first do no harm, prescribe a medication that has the potential to kill the adoptive mother and the baby she is nursing?
“Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stresses that domperidone is not an FDA-approved drug, and that it may not be legally marketed in the US. In June 2004, FDA warned compounding pharmacies and firms that supply domperidone for use in compounding that it is illegal to compound domperidone. In addition, FDA put into place an import alert permitting FDA personnel to detain domperidone shipments of bulk ingredients and shipments of finished drug products offered for importation without an active investigational new drug application. These actions resulted from FDA’s concern about the potential health risks associated with the use of domperidone in lactating women. These risks include cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, and sudden death.
Although domperidone is not FDA approved, FDA recognizes there are some patients with severe gastrointestinal motility disorders that are refractory to standard therapy who may benefit from the use of domperidone and in whom the benefits of the drug may outweigh its risks. Domperidone is available to these patients through an Expanded Access to Investigational Drugs program. Under this program, domperidone may be obtained only from certain specified suppliers and authorization must be obtained prior to the importation, interstate shipment, and administration of the drug. According to FDA, currently the only authorized supplier of the drug is Dougherty’s Pharmacy in Dallas, TX.
Boards observing that an entity may be obtaining or compounding domperidone under circumstances not in compliance with FDA regulations are encouraged by the agency to report any concerns. Pharmacists may direct any questions to the FDA Division of Drug Information by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 855/543-3784 or 301/796-3400.”
This article was published on July 31, 2013. The original warning letter was issued in 2004. Because compliance was not being met, they had to issue an additional warning to stress what was in the original one.
Yet, here we have a whole group of women talking about how they take it everyday to breastfeed their adopted children. We have them telling a hopeful adoptive mom to join a support group online about adoptive breastfeeding – most likely so they can get more information about this “miracle drug.” We even have them giving out the names of places overseas that they can order it from. Can anyone spell illegal? Felony?
(Side note: I have forwarded the original messages, along with names that have been blacked out here, and the links to these women’s Facebook pages to the email address provided by the FDA in the letter)
So why is this drug banned by the FDA? Let’s take a look at another article written by a cardiologist. She sites that sudden cardiac arrest is one of the deadly side effects of Domperidone. She states that it IS transmitted through breast milk. She also questions the increasing instances of SIDS that have happened in more recent years that happen to correlate with the increasing number of adoptive mothers who are inducing lactation artificially.
Let me ask you a question. If I purposely ingesting drugs that I knew could potentially kill my child what would happen to me? Would child and family services show up at my door and seize my baby? If something bad did happen would I go to prison for murder? Let me remind you of a story from a little over a year ago. A mother was sentenced to 20 years in prison because she breastfed her baby while on Morphine and Klonopin. The 6-week old baby died. She landed in prison, as she should be, because those drugs were detectable in the baby’s system. Domperidone would surely be detectable as well, but it’s not a narcotic. Regardless of the known dangers – sudden cardiac arrest – women breastfeeding while taking this drug are not investigated. I think the good cardiologist has a point when she questions SIDS deaths.
And I quote: “If the risk to the mother isn’t enough, there’s a risk to the baby too. Domperidone is transferred in breast milk (LC’s often deny this!) and infants are exquisitely sensitive to its effect. How many ‘SIDS’ cases out there are in fact sudden cardiac deaths from arrythmias caused by maternal domperidone use?”
My question is WHY? Why would women take something known to be potentially fatal to their infant? Why are adoptive mothers passing home studies and getting approved to go ahead with an adoption when they are CLEARLY putting their infant at risk of death for an unnecessary reason by taking this drug? This is child endangerment – clear and concise child endangerment. A mother is willingly and knowingly ingesting a drug that is dangerous and then feeding this drug to her child, knowing the potential harm it could cause.
Because the fantasy and obsession to pretend that she gave birth to that child is so great that she is willing to go to any length, take any risk, to sustain it. You cannot tell me a whole bunch of mushy gushy healthy reasons you wish to breastfeed and have me believe it when the method you are using to induce lactation could KILL that child. Then it’s about you – and only you.
When you are faced with someone arguing with you about how great it is that adoptive mothers want to breastfeed, remind them that none of those reasons are valid if they choose to induce lactation artificially. Then it becomes child abuse. Nothing less than child abuse.