Breastfeeding and Surrogacy: What Are My Options?

Oftentimes when we think of surrogacy, we assume that the option for a surrogate baby to breastfeed is out of the question – a very understandable yet false assumption. Breastfeeding is, in actuality, not out of the question. In fact, there is more than one option Intended Parents have if they would like their baby to breastfeed.

Breast milk – the golden milk. 

Breastfeeding has an impressive list of benefits if you choose to take this route.  Breast milk contains immunity-boosting antibodies and healthy enzymes. It is able to communicate with your baby to determine just what he or she needs at the various stages of growth.  From providing optimum nutrition, to reducing risk of diseases, everyone rightfully has the opportunity to breastfeed – whether you give birth to your child, have a child through surrogacy or decide to adopt.  

Here at Simple Surrogacy, we are with you every step of way – from the moment you decide to embark on your surrogacy journey, to the birth of your baby, and thereafter.  We are here to help you through any doubts you may have and guide you through any decisions you need to make, whenever you need guidance. Deciding whether or not to breastfeed, and determining how to go about doing this, is just one of the decisions we are here to help you with! 

So, how exactly can you breastfeed your surrogate baby?

 Induced lactation

One of the many benefits of breastfeeding is the bonding experience between mother and child.  The skin-to-skin contact that breastfeeding entails increases the levels of oxytocin in both mother and baby, which, in turn, increases positive hormonal interactions. As an Intended Mother, breastfeeding is not impossible. With preparation, you can have the same bonding experience with your child born via surrogacy. The first step for an Intended Mother is to speak with her doctor before any action is taken. After you are clear to continue with the procedure, below are the anticipated steps:

  • Start taking hormones. In the months leading up to your baby’s birth, your doctor may prescribe hormones (usually in the form of birth control pills). These hormones make your body think you are pregnant, which is the predecessor to milk production.
  • The hormones will be replaced with supplements and medications. Shortly before your baby arrives, your doctor will stop the hormones and will recommend medications and herbal supplements that help promote milk production.
  • Start pumping. When you stop the hormones and begin taking milk-producing medications and supplements, you should begin pumping, gradually increasing the amount of times you pump and the number of times you pump. Your body will eventually start producing milk, and your supply should gradually increase the more you pump as you prepare for your baby’s birth.
  • Start nursing and supplement your milk. While it is possible to induce lactation, most women will not produce enough milk to fully sustain a baby on their own. This is true for both intended mothers and mothers who give birth to their child. You can therefore use a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) to ensure your baby is getting enough to eat. This system consists of a container for added milk and a tube that connects from the container for your baby to feed from. You will add supplemental milk (donated breast milk, the surrogate’s breast milk, milk you’ve previously pumped, and/or formula) into the SNS container and tape the tubes to your chest. When you nurse your baby using the SNS, he or she will get any milk you are producing, along with the milk from the SNS. This allows your baby to get used to nursing, while also ensuring he or she has plenty to eat.

 It is important to remember that every mother’s breastfeeding experience is different, and your success may vary based on a number of factors. Women often feel inadequate or ashamed that they are not as successful as other women. There will be a learning curve, so the most important thing is to be patient and to speak with your doctor or a lactation consultant for guidance and support.

 Using the Surrogate’s milk

A Surrogate can also provide milk for the baby, and there are a couple different options you can explore when choosing this route. Intended Parents and Surrogates should talk about their plans for nursing early in the pregnancy, so everyone can prepare accordingly. This plan should also be included in your legal contract prior to the embryo transfer. Your surrogacy agency can also help to find prospective Surrogates who are willing to pump if your own Surrogates does not want to. Check out our matching process to determine how Simple Surrogacy will help you find your perfect prospective Surrogate. 

  • The surrogate can nurse the baby she delivers. From the moment of the birth, this is a viable option as the surrogate’s body has been preparing for lactation. The milk that her body is getting ready to produce is in fact designed specifically for the baby she’s pregnant with. She can nurse the baby upon birth and through the first day or few days, as long as they’re together in the hospital or birthing center (following this, she may continue to pump for the baby).
  • Pumping milk. Pumping milk is by far the most common way surrogates provide breast milk to the surrogate baby. If this is the decision you all agree upon, it is important that you provide your Surrogate with a hospital-grade breast pump, milk storage supplies, and reimbursement for any costs such as shipping.  The Surrogate will pump her milk, store it in her freezer and then send (or deliver, if she lives close enough) the milk in batches.

The benefits of breast milk, whether provided at the breast or by bottle through pumping, are significant to the baby, but there is no one right or wrong way to approach feeding your baby once he or she has arrived. The best baby is a well-fed baby! If you do decide that breastmilk is how you would like your baby to obtain his or her nutrients, you now understand that there are various arrangements available. The most important part of your decision-making, however, is the communication between you and your partner, and your Gestational Carrier, to come up with a plan that works for everyone. Once this is agreed upon, the journey is yours to enjoy!

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