Breast Milk and Surrogate Babies!
There are many benefits to breast milk for a baby. And there are benefits to the person producing it, but there can be challenges to it as well. When we add in the emotions and logistics of pumping, freezing, and shipping it to the surro-baby’s family, some families decide it’s just too much. There’s no “right” answer to this question, but here are some things to keep in mind!
Breast milk provides what many doctors consider “perfect” nutrition for a new baby. It provides a varied and complex series of nutrients as well as anti-infectious and anti-inflammatory agents, growth factors, and prebiotics. When a person breastfeeds a baby, the baby’s saliva can influence the milk production by signaling a need for additional nutrients or antibodies to be expressed. However, in a surrogacy journey, the surrogate does not nurse the baby directly. Even though this feedback loop is lost, the nutritional content and protection of breast milk are preferable to formula, when possible.
That’s why pumping breast milk offers most of the same great advantages to babies. While the antibodies and immunities aren’t made on demand for a baby’s current needs, they are still present and can provide some form of protection against illness. Pumping also offers the ability to produce and express breast milk to be stored and used at a later time. This is because pumped breast milk freezes very well, which makes it easy to ship to the intended parents. Many of the standard shipping companies are equipped to transport perishable items quickly and safely. There are also shipping companies that only carry items like frozen breast milk. The supplies that are needed for shipping are easy to get and keep on hand.
For the Surrogate:
Although the idea of pumping as a surrogate may be new to you, there are many women who have been sharing their ideas and providing support for one another for many years. A quick Google search results in dozens of online resources and communities that are all devoted to pumping surrogates. A chat with these organizations, a lactation specialist, and us at VSN can provide lots of info and support!
Don’t forget the health benefits! Pumping promotes nearly all of the healing and health benefits that breastfeeding does. Specifically, pumping will help with your fourth trimester recovery by shrinking your uterus, burning extra calories, and helping reduce uterine bleeding after birth. All of this leads to great outcomes for your health including increasing calorie burn, reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and fighting type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. But that doesn’t mean it's easy! Sometimes even with the best intentions, it doesn’t work according to plan.
In fact, the time to think about it is before a pregnancy is even achieved. A pumping clause can be included in the surrogate legal agreement as insurance that the surrogate will be fairly compensated for the time and effort of pumping. It’s not a guarantee that the surrogate will absolutely pump for that length of time, but it will ensure that she will be properly compensated. If the surrogate’s milk supply is enough to continue past the contracted agreement, and the intended parents do not wish to continue getting breast milk, donor milk banks are a great option to keep in mind.
For the Intended Parents:
Breast milk from your surrogate might be a good choice nutritionally, but that doesn’t make it perfect for every situation. A surrogate might be unwilling, the logistics of freezing and shipping might be insurmountable, or your personal feelings in the matter might dictate another course. Opening up the dialogue at the beginning of the journey ensures that no matter what is ultimately decided regarding milk production, everyone is on the same page.
No matter how the journey goes, Vermont Surrogacy Network is here to assist and support both our surrogates and our intended parents every step of the way. We believe that open, honest, and transparent communication from the very beginning is the best way to set everyone involved up for success in their journeys.