Listen to Rachel's interview here:
A note about language: The term "same-sex female couple" rather than "lesbian couple" is used in this post in order to be more inclusive. Same-sex female couples come in many forms. This post will refer to "parent'"rather than "mother'"to be inclusive of various gender identities. However, for simplicity, both parents will be referred to as "she."
Co-nursing involves both parents sharing the role of breastfeeding. In its most simple form, the non-gestational parent simply puts her baby to her non-lactating breast. She may do this on her bare breast in order comfort nurse. Or, she may use an at-breast supplementer filled - in some cases - with her partner's milk. If the non-gestational parent regularly uses the at-breast supplementer, she may or may not begin to produce small amounts of milk.
However, both partners may wish to provide milk for their baby. This involves one or both of them inducing lactation. It is a unique scenario because there is a need to balance milk production between two parents in a way that meets both of their needs as well as provide a combined milk production to meet their baby's requirements. One approach is for each parent to pump whenever her partner breastfeeds until both parents have an established milk production. At that point, each parent can gradually taper her pumping when the other breastfeeds until the desired balance is achieved.
Some additional helpful links:
Here is a beautiful and inspirational blog post about one couple's experience of co-nursing: http://offbeathome.com/2011/02/co-breastfeeding
Jules Moon presents some excellent preliminary research on co-nursing for same-sex female couples in this paper: http://www.turningtidesmidwifery.com/research.php
Rachel is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and has been working with growing families since 2007. She holds a certification as a birth doula with Doulas of North America (DONA) and brings years of community experience to the field as a social worker. Rachel currently serves as the president of PRO-LC, her regional professional association. She works in local hospital settings while maintaining a private practice, Freedom to Feed. Rachel lives in Philadelphia, PA with her wife and daughter.
We are proud to present a series of podcasts for parents Breastfeeding Outside the Box, where we aim to support the nourishing and nurturing of babies in exceptional families - families who historically have not received the help and support they need and deserve. Our exceptional families include adoptive, intended, and foster families; gender, sexual, and racial minorities; families with special needs babies; parents who have had breast surgery; mothers with IGT or low milk production for other reasons; exclusively pumping mothers; and more.
Feel free to leave a voice message in the Breastfeeding Outside the Box mailbox with your questions or comments for the podcast -including your medication and herb questions for Dr.Nice. We can't wait to hear from you!
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I'm done with all 3 podcasts and I love them! I can't wait to hear the next one. Thanks for providing such a wonderful service. For someone who doesn't know anybody who has breastfed an adopted baby, it is empowering to know that it can and has been done, and that I'm not alone. - Liz M.
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Thanks for all the support. Everyone in my life is amazed at what he and I are doing together and I can honestly say I wouldn't have the knowledge without your book and podcasts. - Liz M.
Breastfeeding Outside the Box aims to be as inclusive as possible. We are aware that the term "breastfeeding" has limitations: not all of our listeners have breasts and not all of our listeners are feeding at the breast. We are also aware that not all of our listeners identify as mothers. Therefore, we will regularly use the term "nursing" rather than "breastfeeding", and "parent" rather than "mother." While we cannot identify directly with every listener, as adoptive mothers who nursed their babies, Hope and I do understand what it is like to parent outside the box and will make every effort possible to embrace anyone interested in being a part of Breastfeeding Outside the Box. We also know that we are human with our own limitations and biases, and look forward to learning and growing with you. Please let us know how we can make you feel more welcome and supported.
Breastfeeding Outside The Box exists to provide education and information about breastfeeding options for people everywhere. Every effort has been made to provide up to date and accurate information, but this information should never be used to diagnose or treat problems you may be experiencing. Information shared in this episode is not intended to replace medical advice or care from your health care provider, and we encourage you to consult with your personal physician, pediatrician or local IBCLC before making decisions about your care or the care of your baby.