Breastfeeding and providing breastmilk for a surrogate baby is an important consideration during the matching process in surrogacy.
For new parents the decision to between breastmilk and formula is always challenging yet important however, in surrogacy cases opting for breastmilk is even more complicated as the surrogate is not physically as close to the baby as the mother.
For surrogates in other states or countries, it's even trickier if the intended parents have expressed the desire for their child to be breastfed, which requires the breastmilk to be frozen and shipped to the intended parents.
Evidently breastfeeding your child who's born via surrogacy would require careful planning from the very start which is why most surrogacy agencies make sure this conversation is a part of the initial matching process.
If a surrogacy candidate does not want to pump breastmilk for the future child while the intended parents want their baby to be breastfed, it won't be a successful match.
Some potential questions to ask during the initial screening regarding breastfeeding can include:
Would the Intended Parents want the surrogate to breastfeed or pump during the hospital stay?
How long would the Intended Parents want their baby to be provided with breastmilk?
If the IPs and surrogate are both geographically close to each other, how often would the IPs procure the milk? And if both the parties are not located in the same city or state, how often can you realistically get it shipped?
Surrogates who are pumping milk for their surrobabies are required to be compensated for this service, which includes covering for all the expenses related to providing breastmilk such as, a good-quality breastpump, electric sterilizer, bottle warmer, breastmilk storage bags, and shipping costs if any.
Pumping for your surrogate baby
Pumping after a surrogate pregnancy can at times be emotionally as well as physically challenging. Pumping is different from breastfeeding a baby directly and even if you have had no problems nursing your children, this might be different and you might not have the same flow since you won't be producing milk according to the baby's consumption. Your best bet is to stick to a schedule mimicking the actual feeding schedule for a newborn i.e. every 2-3 hours.
Storage and shipping
In case the surrogate and the intended parents are not local to each other, the pumped breastmilk would need to be stored properly in bulk and shipped in insulated cooler boxes in order to save it from getting spoiled.
It's a good idea to freeze the breastmilk flattened out over something like a cookie sheet or a flat tray, they take up much lesser space and are also easier to defrost.
Weaning in a surrogate pregnancy needs to be intentional and carefully thought out in the absence of a baby. Weaning is normally done through spacing out feedings and gradually tapering off however, using products such as “No More Milk Tea,” Sudafed, Ibuprofen, ice and peppermint oil can be beneficial in expediting the process. Be mindful of the fact that if not done gradually, weaning can lead to clogged ducts or mastitis.
Benefits of pumping
In all honesty and fairness, most surrogates choose not to pump after having delivered the baby. It makes sense since after 9 laborious months, the surrogate mother wants to recover and return back to her pre-pregnancy life without the hassle of pumping every couple of hours.
However, there are certain benefits of breastfeeding for surrogates that might be worth considering before you make your final decision on whether to pump or not.
Surrogates who pump are provided extra compensation for all the hard work and commitment that goes into it. If you choose to provide breastmilk to your surrogate baby, you are eligible to earn up to $1000/month or roughly $250/week, plus any costs you incur as part of the pumping process such as storages and shipping expenses, are all covered by the intended parents.
Shedding those pregnancy pounds
Breastfeeding helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size along with providing a speedy recovery, while the extra calories burnt as part of the process tones your entire body, bringing it naturally back in shape.
Continuing to give back
Building on the precious bond you have created with the intended parents and of course, your surrogate baby, pumping milk for him/her is a great way to gradually ease into your pre-surrogacy life without having to bid an abrupt farewell to the baby you helped nurture for the past 9 months.