Breastfeeding and Surrogacy
When people think of surrogacy, they don’t usually think of how the baby will be fed after the birth. For me, this was one of the first things on my mind when I was considering becoming a surrogate. I am a certified lactation educator and a mother who breastfed my two children. I teach breastfeeding classes and help breastfeeding mothers one on one. Breastfeeding is a big part of my life. So, when I imagined giving birth and the baby not receiving breastmilk, I didn’t think I could do it. Then I learned that some intended parents want breastmilk for their baby and will compensate the surrogate for pumping supplies and her time for pumping. That became a requirement for the IPs I would work with. I had the goal of pumping for at least six months and then re-evaluating. The IPs that I ended up working with were on board with receiving breastmilk. They were even willing to have me ship it from Montana to New York where they lived. I gave birth to a baby boy and he immediately showed a preference for breastmilk, babies are smarter than we think! Besides a couple of days of being formula fed while waiting for the first shipment of breastmilk to arrive, he was breastmilk fed until a year.
Exclusive pumping can be a huge pain in the butt (boob). There is the constant cleaning of the pumping supplies, the annoying sound of the pump every 2-3 hours around the clock, waking up in the middle of the night to pump and having to plan your life around your pumping schedule. This is why surrogates get compensated for their time to pump. It’s a job. Compensation is either weekly or by the ounce. This is all decided during the legal phase of the surrogacy journey and put into the legal contract.
Receiving breastmilk can be very costly for the intended parents. Besides the weekly or by the ounce compensation the surrogate receives, there’s the cost of all of the supplies and shipping. Unless the intended parents live within driving distance, the surrogate will have to overnight ship the breastmilk in an insulated box with dry ice. There are certain requirements that need to be followed when shipping with dry ice for safety reasons. Shipping can cost hundred”S” of dollars each time. Every time milk is shipped, a plan has to be in place for someone to be at the house to receive the shipment. The insulated boxes and dry ice can be costly each month. Then there is the cost of the actual pump and the pump part replacements, because when it’s being used so frequently the parts become worn out quickly. For anyone exclusively pumping I would recommend a hospital grade pump which can be rented. Buying one is well over a grand. Don’t forget the breastmilk storage bags, breastfeeding bras and other supplies that might be needed while exclusively pumping. Some intended parents cannot afford to receive breastmilk even if they want it. They just spent a large sum of money having a baby via surrogacy!
Some intended mothers choose to breastfeed their baby. Months before the baby arrives, the IM can start the production of breastmilk by stimulating her breasts and nipples. She can do this with gentle massage and the use of her hospital grade breastpump several times a day. Intended mothers can also talk to their physician about taking prescribed hormones that imitate the hormone levels during pregnancy. Those medications are then withdrawn after a while to trick the body into thinking it gave birth. A new medication called a galactagogue, which is a milk stimulating substance, can then be taken to trigger milk production.
Pumping breastmilk is an option, not a requirement of surrogates. If the surrogate wants to pump but the IPs don’t want the milk, she can donate it to milk banks all around the country. That breastmilk will then be tested and pasteurized and most of it will go to babies in NICU’s. It can be lifesaving for them.