You might think that the relationship you have with your gestational surrogate ends after the baby is born. It is true that, for some, the journey ends shortly after your surrogate gives birth. For others, however, one chapter of the journey ends and another begins… and it all starts with how you choose to feed your new baby.
After your surrogate delivers your baby, your surrogate will have the option of providing the baby with her own breast milk. There are a few variables that will influence this decision, including whether or not you, intended parents, wish to use breast milk versus formula and, of course, the surrogate’s comfort with pumping. At Fairfax Surrogacy, we consider both your and the surrogate’s needs and expectations regarding providing breast milk during the matching process.
Many intended parents are becoming more interested in breast milk and even breastfeeding. There are many great benefits to breast milk, though, fed is always best. There are typically three main options for intended parents seeking to use breast milk.
1. Surrogate pumping. If your surrogate is able to and is willing to pump, you can give your baby her breast milk. Even if she only provides breast milk for a short amount of time, there are still many health benefits for your baby.
2. Induced lactation. Induced lactation is when an intended parent attempts to stimulate her breasts to produce milk so that she can breastfeed the baby herself. This option is not as common as the surrogate pumping providing the breast milk themselves. It also takes months of preparation and dedication to be able to produce breast milk. But many women have successfully done it. So, if you are considering induced lactation, now is the time to begin researching!
3. Donor milk. If your surrogate is unwilling or unable to pump, you can also feed your baby with donor milk. You can work with either a private donor, like another surrogate, or a milk bank to access breast milk. The milk is tested and pasteurized, then packaged and frozen to be shipped to you. Some donor milk banks require a prescription for infants to receive donor milk, so keep this in mind when considering your options.
So, what are your options with breast milk after surrogacy?
It’s important for you as the intended parent to communicate what you would like to do with both the agency and to the gestational surrogate. There are several benefits to feeding your baby with your breast milk, even if it is just for a short time. If you do choose to receive breast milk from your surrogate, you will need to supply yourself with an electric breast pump. Be sure to communicate with the agency and the surrogate on how long you would like the surrogate to pump and how you wish for the breast milk to be delivered.
Your surrogate may also request to be compensated for her time as a result of supplying your baby with her pumped breast milk. Pumping takes a lot of time and energy! Especially during those first few weeks when the surrogate has to wake up to pump, sometimes several times throughout the night. It’s important to recognize the sacrifices the surrogate is making with pumping breast milk, and compensating her for that is a great way to show your appreciation.
Regardless of what choice you make, the decision is ultimately up to you. You will never be pressured by your surrogate or the agency on what to feed your baby. If your surrogate does provide your baby with breast milk, either you or your surrogate can stop at any time. What is most important in making the decision is your and your surrogate’s comfort and health.