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Book Review


by Elizabeth Hormann, IBCLC
LLLI, 2007
Softcover, 68 pages
Retail price: $10.95
Order online at or call 800-LALECHE

reviewed by Karen Butler
Great Britain
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 24 No. 3, May-June 2007, p. 126

BREASTFEEDING AN ADOPTED BABY AND RELACTATION is written for mothers who are considering inducing lactation or relactating for an adopted baby. Author Elizabeth Hormann brings her knowledge as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), as well as the perspective of both a foster and adoptive mother. As Marta Guoth-Gumberger says in the foreword:

This book provides not only evidence-based professional information, but also decision-making help, motivation, and encouragement for the mother and those who are supporting her, whatever decisions are made.

From the introduction onward, the emphasis is on mothering an adoptive baby through breastfeeding. The information and ideas shared are aimed at building a strong mother-baby relationship. This relationship is of paramount importance for an adopted baby, who is separated from his birth mother and may not have had continuity of care until he is settled with his adoptive mother. As Elizabeth Hormann states:

There are special benefits for the baby as well. His entrance into the world, no matter how carefully and lovingly arranged by his birth parents and his adoptive parents, has not been easy. He has been separated from the mother whose heartbeat and voice and body rhythms he knew and he has had to make an attachment to a new mother who is, at first, a complete stranger. This attachment is far easier to make if he spends a good deal of his time in her arms, skin-to-skin, close to her heart. There he grows familiar with and learns to love the sounds of her heart and her voice, the feel of her skin on his, her special sweet smell, and the face that he will soon prefer above all others.

Mothers considering adoptive breastfeeding might be feeling isolated or alone. Elizabeth Hormann addresses this, illustrating not only how it is possible to breastfeed an adopted baby, but also that it is and has been an appropriate choice for many mothers. The book covers the basics of how lactation works and the advantages of breastfeeding for the adopted baby, along with some breastfeeding information aimed at adoptive mothers. However, this book is really a companion book to general breastfeeding resources such as THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING. Instead of including information that is readily available elsewhere, this title concentrates on information related specifically to adoptive nursing, making it a quick read.

Hormann introduces various techniques to initiate milk production and increase milk supply, including hand expression, pumping, and the use of galactogogues (medications and herbs). She also includes research-based information covering the range of outcomes, in terms of milk production, that adoptive mothers have experienced. One chapter includes useful information on sharing the intention to breastfeed with the adoptive agencies, as agencies and their workers can vary in their attitude toward adoptive breastfeeding.

This book stands out from other resources because it emphasizes that there are benefits to breastfeeding the adopted baby, even if he receives very little or no milk. As breastfeeding an adopted baby is neither simple nor easy, Elizabeth Hormann discusses realistic expectations and the counterproductive effects of unrealistic expectations. Throughout the book, the emphasis is on mothering and building relationships. There are suggestions on ways to develop closeness and make the best of whatever milk supply a mother manages to produce.

BREASTFEEDING AN ADOPTED BABY AND RELACTATION addresses the need for balance in adoptive nursing between nurturing and actually feeding a baby. This inexpensive book is without doubt a great resource for mothers contemplating nursing an adopted baby. Elizabeth Hormann's gentle tone and realistic approach is suited to mothers making this emotional choice. Choosing to attempt to breastfeed an adopted baby is not an easy option, but it can be a very worthwhile one.

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