Alyssa’s passion revolves around supporting mothers through adoption, surrogacy, and foster care who wish to breastfeed their babies. Alyssa’s own amazing experience breastfeeding her baby via adoption prompted her to become a lactation consultant. She has done extensive research on breastfeeding without birthing and has worked with many adoptive and intended (through surrogacy) mothers over the past several years. She believes that every mother who wishes to breastfeed, no matter how her baby arrives, should have the support and helpful information to do so. Lactation professionals provide an essential link to the breastfeeding success of these special mamas.
Can lactation occur when it does not immediately follow pregnancy and birth? It certainly can and it is happening in more and more families. Some of these parents have birthed a baby in the recent or distant past (relactation) and others have never given birth (induced lactation). In either case, lactation can be achieved using 3 basic steps or less. In this presentation, we will discuss when and how each of these steps may be used and what degree of lactation can be expected.
When is it too late to breastfeed a baby? Sometimes parents regret the decision not to breastfeed. Sometimes they discontinue breastfeeding and feel it was too soon. Sometimes they had weaned a previous child and want to relactate for a baby they didn’t birth. For various reasons, parents may wish to resume lactation and/or bring a bottle-fed baby back to suckling at the breast. Although it isn’t as easy to make milk without the hormones of pregnancy kicking things off, it is very possible for parents who haven’t lactated for days, weeks, months,… and even years to begin to produce milk once again. And although it isn’t easy to transition an older baby from bottle-feeding to breastfeeding, with patience and gentle guidance it is also possible for babies to make this transition. This presentation was developed to help the listener understand when and why a parent may wish to relactate or bring baby back-to-breast, what to expect, and some basic approaches to relactation and back-to-breast. (This presentation can be done as Relactation only or Back-to-Breast only.)
Traditional definitions of breastfeeding revolve around a mother birthing her baby and then exclusively feeding that child at her breast for the first half year of her baby’s life. For many families, breastfeeding according to this definition just isn’t possible. But that doesn’t mean breastfeeding isn’t possible. It just means we must re-define breastfeeding – expanding what it means to breastfeed in order to meet the growing and changing needs of today’s families. When we allow “breastfeeding” to become nursing, chestfeeding, finger-feeding, and certain ways of bottle-feeding, more parents can breastfeed and more babies can be breastfed. When we allow “breastfeeding” to mean receiving all, some, or no milk at all from baby’s mother, more parents can breastfeed and more babies can be breastfed. When we allow “breastfeeding” to involve non-gestational mothers, fathers, gestational carriers, relatives, friends, and sometimes even strangers, more parents can breastfeed and more babies can be breastfed. This isn’t just theory: real parents are re-defining breastfeeding every day.
Every mother deserves the opportunity to breastfeed – even if that mother did not give birth to her baby. Many mothers through adoption, surrogacy, and foster care have successfully breastfed their babies. This presentation provides an introduction to the how-to’s of breastfeeding without birthing: how to latch an older or compromised baby and how to induce lactation. It also covers finding community support, important for all breastfeeding mothers but especially essential in these special situations.
Breastfeeding is a cornerstone of attachment parenting. But did you know that the other tools of attachment parenting can set the stage for breastfeeding success? Alyssa will discuss how natural childbirth, skin-to-skin, babywearing, co-sleeping, co-bathing, and infant massage are effective tools in establishing breastfeeding – or saving it, if breastfeeding got off to a difficult beginning.
Many breastfeeding mothers rely on a breast pump to help provide milk for their babies when they are separated or not feeding directly from the breast for other reasons. Some of these mothers may find pumping uncomfortable. Many others have difficulty expressing enough milk to meet their babies’ needs. There are also those who produce an overabundance of milk while pumping. This session addresses all of these mothers by providing ideas for making pumping as effective, effecient, and comfortable as possible.
When a mother is unable to meet her baby’s needs with her own milk, milk donated by another mother may be an option. Mothers have always quietly, informally received donated milk from family members and friends. Recently, mothers are connecting via the internet with mothers they have never met who are willing to donate their surplus milk to another baby in need. Donor mothers are not screened, the milk is not pasteurized, and the handling and storage of the milk is not monitored. As a result, it is essential that mothers take precautions whenever accepting donated milk. This session takes a close look at the concerns regarding milk sharing and how mothers can minimize the risks involved.
According to research collected by the U.S. Surgeon General, the support of the breastfeeding partner is one of the most important factors for breastfeeding success. Dads and other breastfeeding partners can support breastfeeding success by providing emotional support, gathering resources, helping mother get comfortable, nurturing her, and more. This session also suggests ways the partner can bond with the baby without bottle-feeding, so that mother can more successfully breastfeed without feeling that she must allow her partner to sometimes feed the baby.
Attachment is an issue for all children and their parents but, for adoptive parents, attachment can be serious concern. All children who have experienced adoption have had a disruption in attachment because infants begin attaching to their mothers in utero. Some adopted children who have been in foster or institutionalized care have experienced numerous breaks in attachment. This presentation equips adoptive parents with a toolbox of parenting techniqes which can help young children heal the loss of their birthmother and other significant caregivers, and foster attachment with their adoptive parents.