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Inducing Lactation: Breastfeeding for Adoptive Moms

A growing number of adoptive mothers are interested in breastfeeding their babies through induced lactation.

Prescription Medications

No drugs specifically designed to induce or enhance lactation have yet been approved by the FDA. However, a few medications typically prescribed for other reasons, such as the drug metoclopramide, have also been shown to stimulate or enhance milk production in some women. Such medications must be prescribed by a physician and do have side effects, so your doctor will want to review your medical history before prescribing them.

Herbal Medications

In the United States and other countries, mothers have used herbal medications, available either in capsules or in teas, to stimulate or increase milk supply. Ask your doctor or lactation specialist about herbal medications before considering their use.

  • Note: herbal medications are not regulated in the United States for content, purity, or possible contaminants.


You must accompany any medication with regular nipple and breast stimulation with a breast pump every two to three hours. Once your baby has arrived, he can be encouraged to suckle at the breast, initiating a breastfeeding relationship while further stimulating milk production.

Nursing Supplement

While there is no way to predict whether your milk production will reach sufficient levels to fully satisfy your baby’s needs, many adoptive mothers happily breastfeed with the aid of a nursing supplementer that provides donor breast milk or formula.

Start the Process Before Baby Arrives

If you’re interested, you should talk to your doctor and start the process well before the arrival of the baby. Milk production can take weeks to begin—an average of four weeks—after you start pumping. The stress of the adoption process can also disrupt the production of milk.

Last Updated
New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding, 2nd Edition (Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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