Surrogacy is a beautiful act. It’s the sharing of one’s very body with another being for the benefit of another being or several other beings. Of course, like traditional pregnancies and life in general, it’s not without its emotional components and questions. The following will explore one common question in particular: how breastfeeding works in surrogacy situations.
What Is Surrogacy?
Surrogacy is an arrangement, commonly involving a legal agreement, wherein a woman agrees to carry a pregnancy to full term and deliver the baby on behalf of another person or people who will become the child’s legal parents after the birth. Surrogacy isn’t something that everyone feels capable of or inclined to do, but for the right woman can be a wonderful way to support another family.
Surrogates are typically healthy women who tend to have positive pregnancy experiences—not everyone loves the sensation of being pregnant, but some women thrive in that state. The process of becoming a surrogate or selecting one is, of course, much more complex than that; surrogate FAQs can be found here if you need more information. Again, a legal agreement is commonly part of a surrogacy arrangement meaning the legal council might be part of a rounded understanding of the process.
Induced Lactation Is Possible
Foremost, when people are looking into surrogacy and breastfeeding options, it’s common to rule out the possibility of a woman breastfeeding the child that will legally be hers once the pregnancy is complete because she wasn’t the one carrying the child and, therefore, will not have milk to offer. This isn’t always the case. Lactation induction is possible in some cases, allowing women who have used a surrogate to still have the experience of breastfeeding their child. Given the vital role breastfeeding plays in acclimatizing a baby to its bacterial environment, this can be incredibly beneficial to a baby’s health. It can also assist in the stages of bonding that occur between a mother and her child.
Typically, inducing lactation requires hormonal supplements, herbal supplements, and pumping tools to help get the flow going. All of this usually takes place prior to the child’s birth.
Using Surrogate Breastmilk
Depending on the arrangement with the surrogate, it’s also common to use the surrogate’s breast milk. Many surrogates are open to pumping for up to six weeks after the baby is born. The pumped milk can then be fed to the baby using a bottle. Depending on how far apart the parents and surrogate live, this can become difficult to manage. Moreover, given that pumping typically requires the surrogate to stop every few hours—even during the night—and pump, it often comes with a financial cost as the surrogate will not be able to perform standard work without interruption or even sleep through the night.
A third option, if breast milk is your focus, is to seek out local milk donation centers. There are wonderful women who donate their milk to assist those who are unable to breastfeed their infants for whatever reason. Parents might want to take a second to read up about circadian rhythms and breast milk, as this can influence their baby’s sleep habits. It turns out that milk pumped during the day encourages wakefulness in an infant, whereas milk pumped at night encourages fatigue. Mixing up day and night milk can result in mixing up your schedule.
The above information should have outlined a few common pathways to securing breastmilk for a child born via surrogacy. Of course, every family and their needs vary. It’s important to take stock of the emotional and mental energies of everyone involved and readjust if you need to.