What to Consider for Pumping Breast Milk as a Surrogate

For some surrogates, the surrogacy journey does not end when the baby is delivered. After the baby is born, your body will begin to produce breast milk, leading you to question — to pump or not to pump?

When it comes to feeding, fed is best, whether that be via formula or breast milk. Some intended parents do not wish to receive breast milk and are satisfied with formula, while others are adamant that their baby receives breast milk. At the same time, some surrogates are eager to provide intended parents with breast milk, while others prefer not to.

The bottom line is that it’s your choice whether or not you would like to provide breast milk to the intended parents.

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of choosing to pump for your intended parents:

Exploring the Pros and Cons of Pumping

The Benefits of Pumping

Slower transition back to life before surrogacy. For some surrogates, it can be difficult to transition back to your normal life after being so intimately involved with the people you carried a baby for. Pumping can be a great way to help you transition back into your normal life while still involving the intended parents and their baby.

An extra gift to the intended parents. As a surrogate, you have a natural desire to give to others. Pumping breast milk for the intended parents is a wonderful bonus gift you can give to them that is both gratifying and fulfilling.

A faster recovery. Pumping speeds up the recovery process, helping your uterus shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size.

Potential weight loss. A lot of surrogates report losing the extra weight from their pregnancy more quickly if they are pumping. That’s because pumping burns a ton of calories!

The Downsides to Pumping

Extra time and effort. Pumping can be inconvenient, tedious, and time-consuming. Throughout the day (and night!), you will need to empty your breasts regularly to maintain your milk supply. Combine that with constantly cleaning out bottles, tubes, and funnels — pumping can take up a substantial amount of your time.

It’s a commitment. You already knew that pumping would be a commitment, but you may not realize just how much of one it is! Pumping affects your sleep, your diet, and even what kind of medications you can take. You’ll also want to continue abstaining from alcohol and caffeine as well.

When do I have to decide?

The decision to pump or not pump breast milk should ideally be made before matching with intended parents. This early discussion sets clear expectations and helps avoid potential misunderstandings or conflicts after the birth. Intended parents may have strong preferences regarding their baby’s nutrition, and knowing a surrogate’s stance on breast milk pumping can influence their decision in choosing a surrogate.

Emotional and Physical Considerations

Pumping breast milk is not just a physical act; it carries emotional weight, too. Surrogates need to consider their emotional readiness to engage in this process after birth. It involves time and effort and can extend the emotional connection to the surrogacy journey. Deciding this in advance helps the surrogate mentally and physically prepare for what’s to come.

Legal and Contractual Implications

Surrogacy agreements often include clauses about breast milk pumping. Deciding ahead of time allows for these details to be clearly outlined in the contract, covering aspects like compensation for pumping, duration, and handling of the milk. This legal clarity is crucial for both parties to ensure a smooth and conflict-free arrangement.

Health and Lifestyle Impact

Pumping breast milk requires a commitment to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet, as it directly affects the milk’s quality. A surrogate must be willing and able to adhere to these standards for the duration of pumping. Deciding this before matching allows the surrogate to realistically assess if this commitment fits into her lifestyle and health conditions.

Aligning with Intended Parents’ Plans

Some intended parents may wish to establish breastfeeding with their child through induced lactation or formula feeding. Knowing a surrogate’s decision on pumping early helps them plan accordingly. It’s important for surrogates to respect and align with these parenting choices, as it forms the foundation of a respectful and supportive surrogacy relationship.

What if I change my mind?

While it’s ideal to make a decision about breast milk pumping before matching with intended parents, life is unpredictable. Circumstances and feelings can change, and a surrogate may reconsider her decision about pumping breast milk. A surrogate might experience changes in her health, emotional state, or personal circumstances that could influence her ability to pump or not pump breast milk. Flexibility and open communication are key in these situations.

If you find yourself reconsidering your decision, it’s crucial to communicate this change as soon as possible. Open and honest communication ensures that all parties can discuss and navigate the new situation together. It’s important for surrogates to remember that intended parents have planned based on the initial agreement, and any change can have a significant impact on them.

While it’s important to make an initial decision about breast milk pumping before matching with intended parents, it’s equally important to recognize that circumstances can change. Being open to communication and supportive of each other’s needs and decisions are crucial for a positive and respectful surrogacy experience. This flexibility ensures that, regardless of the decision, the best interests of the baby, the surrogate, and the intended parents are always at the heart of the journey.

Making your decision

Overall, when considering whether or not to pump for the intended parents, the choice is entirely up to you. The decision to pump breast milk as a surrogate is a deeply personal one, with many factors to consider. Making this decision before matching with intended parents ensures that expectations are aligned, legal agreements are clear, and both parties are prepared for the post-birth arrangement. At Fairfax Surrogacy, we are committed to supporting you in making a choice that feels right for you and aligns with the needs of the intended parents. Remember, your journey is unique, and your choices are valid and respected.