Working with families in the LGBTQ community to ensure that both mothers in a relationship can choose to breastfeed their baby, regardless of how their family was created.
BY DR. RONAYE CALVERT
“I am a business-owner, artist, wife, daughter, lover, survivor, and activist. I feel empowered and even limitless, at times, but I can’t breastfeed my own baby! It is the most natural thing in the world and I can’t give her that because she didn’t live in my womb, only in my heart.”
When Sharon tearfully said these words to me, I felt powerless to help her. I could empathize and share her frustration and her longing, but that wasn’t enough. As a professional who finds great purpose supporting my clients in overcoming enormous challenges, I could not settle for having no solution to this problem. Sharon shouldn’t have to accept that and neither should any of you.
With serious determination and after a LOT of investigation, Sharon and I finally found lactation expert Laura Cannon and a process of tremendous learning and growth began. Over the course of several months we met with Laura whose patience, guidance and knowledge were a great comfort as Sharon struggled through frustration, doubt and the belief that she would never be enough. She wasn’t a biological mother and she feared she might not be allowed this sacred relationship with her baby.
Sharon’s concerns were not simply rooted in her heartfelt desire to nurture her child in the most natural way possible, but Sharon also knew, instinctively, how important breastfeeding is in cultivating bonding and attachment with her baby. As Laura stated in our initial session together, “Breastfeeding allows for your baby to, quite literally, soak in your unique scent and feel that, in your arms, they are ‘home.’” For an adoptive mother and child, the capability to create that bond and forge that connection parallels the attachment that occurs between a biological mother and child, both physically and mentally.
Changing the way we think about adoption, connection and our capabilities to forge bonds—change us all, for the better.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not all about emotion and loving your child, this is also about science and a deep understanding of the human body and the mind-body connection.
Laura guided Sharon through the process of hormone therapy, breast-stimulation techniques, monitoring milk production, latching (both simulated and with the baby), and counseled her on every detail of the feeding process from how to hold her body to the importance of her thoughts. In fact, her mindset was so important, it was the cornerstone of this entire process. As Laura instructed, “A woman’s belief that she is capable of making milk is the key determinant in her success. Hormones and massage techniques are simply not enough; she must be passionately connected to the process.”
With this goal in mind, I coached Sharon through visualizing her body creating and sustaining the life force that would nurture her daughter, silencing negative thinking or limitations and meditating on bringing her intentions into reality. The mind is so incredibly powerful in its potential to create our greatest visions and dreams…when we allow it. Thanks to Sharon’s courage to venture into what she once thought impossible, I was fortunate enough to witness what Laura always believed possible and what I can only describe as miraculous: Sharon breastfed her adopted daughter.
It was out of this profound experience that the synergy between Laura Cannon and I was born. B.O.N.D. (Breastfeeding Our Newborns by Design) was launched in 2016 and Laura and I have had the joy and privilege of helping biological and adopted families forge this incredible attachment with their babies ever since. The expert and dedicated network of lactation consultants, OBGYNs, nurses, pediatricians, nutritionists, and therapists who work with programs like B.O.N.D. exist so that mothers and families can be supported from the inside out.
In creating this team, Laura and I also shared an important mission—Inclusion. As such, we have worked with families in our LGBTQ community to ensure that both mothers in a relationship can choose to breastfeed their baby, regardless of how their family was created. The role of each partner, whether breastfeeding or not, is an active one and their importance to the bonding process cannot be overstated. Laura and I educate and coach partners to be active teammates in this process as we understand the immense value they bring to the family unit and the bonding process, as a whole. As written by breastfeeding advocate and researcher, Diane Wiessinger, “Breastfeeding weaves an emotional cord to replace the umbilical cord.”
Women like Sharon are pioneers for change—changing the way we think about adoption, connection and our capabilities to forge bonds that change us all, for the better. In a world where so many things can seem chaotic and challenging, it’s good to know that some things always remain true—mother knows best.
Dr. Ronaye Calvert is the Founder and Executive Director of LIVE Treatment and Revive Detox in West Los Angeles and Co-Founder of B.O.N.D. LIVETrearmentVIP.com (323) 714-8113. ReviveDetox.com (844) 467-3848. Laura Cannon is a Certified Lactation Educator and Co-Founder and Executive Director of B.O.N.D. (888) 506-1860 ext. 101. TalkToUs@BONDbreastfeeding.com.
Benefits Of Breastfeeding
- Fights and prevents childhood illness
- Millions of antibodies in every teaspoon of breastmilk; zero in formula
- Adopted baby’s immune system at increased risk due to relocation and stress
- Adapts daily to your baby’s needs—custom made nutrition
- Increases IQ vs formula fed babies
- Decreases mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer
- Releases oxytocin and endorphins to help with stress
- Creates a bonding euphoric feeling
- Protects baby from obesity into adulthood.