Breastfeeding after surrogacy: it’s possible!
Disclaimer: This article is written for informational purposes only, the goal is to describe the advantages and disadvantages of breastfeeding during fertility treatment with the help of surrogacy. Readers have the full right to make their own decision after consulting a doctor.
As we all know, in surrogacy programs, intended mothers do not go through the pregnancy period alone and therefore their bodies cannot produce breast milk naturally (without a special lactation induction protocol) when the baby is born. Every pair of IPs encounters this situation and in most cases, the simplest and most obvious solution is to use infant formula. This is the common way in surrogacy. But are there alternatives? Breast milk is very nutritious for a newborn and has many advantages over formula milk. Do surrogate mothers breastfeed? What are the pros and cons? Can Intended Mothers breastfeed after surrogacy programs if they weren’t pregnant? Let’s find out in this article.
First of all, we must remember that in surrogacy programs, we have 3 parts: the intended parents, the surrogate mother and the infant (or children), and breastfeeding must be beneficial and safe for all parties.
Nursing surrogate mother
In surrogacy programs, after childbirth, surrogate mothers usually receive special medications to prevent or stop breastfeeding, which is a natural result of pregnancy. If a surrogate mother is ready for breastfeeding, she does not receive the drugs, then the hormones begin their work and increase the production of breast milk. But surrogate breastfeeding is usually a rare situation and requires extra compensation and prior agreement between the MS and both intended parents. Not all women will agree to become a surrogate mother and not all surrogate mothers will agree to breastfeed for many reasons, which is why such a request must be negotiated before the program starts and even before MS selection. If such a surrogate is found, in most cases it will not be direct breastfeeding, but pumping and transporting breast milk to parents. Direct breastfeeding by a surrogate mother can psychologically burden both parties as an emotional and physical bond is formed between the segregating mother and the baby during this process, which is unnecessary in surrogacy. It can cause severe psychological trauma to the surrogate mother, then to the baby. Finding a surrogate who even agrees to pump breast milk is no easy task. Usually, surrogate mothers rush home to their families and children after giving birth and rush to finalize the legal part. Both direct breastfeeding and pumping take a lot of time and dedication along with special assistance from medical nurses and nutrition specialists who will follow the correct feeding and pumping, check the health of the surrogate mother and properly finalize the ‘feeding time. We have never had a surrogate mother who agreed to breastfeed directly. If a surrogate mother agrees to breastfeed, it’s a great luck and a good start to feeding the baby, but make sure you understand all aspects of it, including the psychological one. The minimum recommended days for surrogate breastfeeding are 2 weeks. As you can see, direct surrogate breastfeeding and the use of surrogate breast milk are possible but not easy to organize. It is not uncommon that when parents ask for surrogate breastfeeding, they are not knowledgeable enough about how it works, that it is actually a separate process, and that many things need to be considered and prepared in advance.
The pros of breastfeeding the surrogate mother:
Natural milk always has more advantages over prepared milk powder. The antibodies provided by natural milk cannot be artificially added to the powder.
The baby’s immune system will be stronger with natural breast milk which is confirmed by many studies. So it can be beneficial for health. But in case it is impossible for some reason, powdered milk is still a great option, just look for the good quality one.
What are the disadvantages of surrogate breastfeeding? Let’s see them:
1. It is more difficult to stop breastfeeding of the surrogate mother after the breast milk is finished because the hormonal mechanism works in such a way that it is easier to prevent breastfeeding with drugs soon after giving birth than after a week or later.
2. Pumping the milk on schedule is not easy, but it can be even more difficult for a surrogate mother to emotionally and mentally pump breast milk away from a baby. It can increase your risk of depression and even change your intentions towards the child. Eventually, it could even affect the legal process for the child.
3. Risks of Infection – In case the surrogate mother catches some infectious diseases after giving birth, she could transfer them to the baby through the mother’s milk.
4. In the event that the surrogate mother loses time to express milk for any reason, the entire amount of milk produced will decrease and therefore the baby may not get enough milk to feed.
5. Transport question – the surrogate mother should live not far from your home during the period of breastfeeding and the breast milk should be delivered to the baby in a short time (20-30 minutes), otherwise it should be frozen, which it could change the smell of the milk. All of these conditions can cause difficulties, inconveniences and anxiety.
6. It always depends on the time and place of the meal.
7. Breastfeeding can sometimes cause an unexpected sense of regret, resentment and hostility between a surrogate mother and a biological mother.
The second option for breastfeeding after surrogacy is breastfeeding the legal mother (designated mother). Not many people know this, but yes! It is also possible if the designated mother did not carry the baby on her own and was not pregnant. It allows absolutely possible if your health conditions induce breastfeeding. There are special protocols on how to do this correctly and we have had intended parents who have successfully accomplished this task. This option is often overlooked because information about it is not widely disseminated. With lactation induction, Intended Mothers can experience breastfeeding their surrogate babies just like any other mother, with the benefits of physical and emotional bonding with babies.
The pros of intentional breastfeeding:
1.Breast milk provides optimal nutrition for babies. It has the right amount of nutrients and vitamins and is easily acceptable and digestible.
Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight viruses and bacteria and develop the immune system properly. The first breast milk, called colostrum, provides high amounts of these antibodies.
3. Always available – no preparation required! Breast milk is ready and warm, just follow the schedule and instructions.
4. Create a valuable psychological connection between mother and child.
5. Such breastfeeding creates a pure and trusting connection between a biological mother who has used her own eggs and a baby born with the help of a gestational carrier. It helps her to accept the fact that there was no possibility of going through the pregnancy alone due to health problems, being the mother who feeds the baby with her own body after birth.
7. Helps to accept parenting, responsibility and fulfillment of the maternal instinct.
The disadvantages of breastfeeding when the intended mother wishes to breastfeed:
Preparing for such breastfeeding can be complicated. It is an act of true devotion, it takes a long time, practical actions many months before birth, getting hormones, herbs and pumping. Not all women are ready for this, it is a personal decision.
Some health problems may not allow for a baby to be breastfeeding after surrogacy alone or may induce some health problems, so always consult a doctor before taking this step.
Lack of information about it. It’s not really a disadvantage of breastfeeding, but the fact that many people don’t even know it’s possible prevents them from considering this option.
Another good alternative to breastfeeding a surrogate born baby is to use the milk services donated by a woman who is nursing her children and has too much milk for them. We have this possibility and we can arrange the process with our nutrition specialist. Our nutrition specialist helps all our parents on a regular schedule with prepared milk, helps to control the process, weight gain, etc.