As an Intended Mother, there are a few things about having a baby that you miss out on, mainly being pregnant and giving birth. But there’s one thing you don’t have to miss out on – breastfeeding.
Yes, you CAN breastfeed your baby – even if you aren’t the one giving birth! In fact, breastfeeding your baby born through surrogacy is not much different from being an adoptive mother. But, how does it all work?
First, let’s take a look at why breastfeeding is so important.
Why breastmilk is so valuable
Your breast milk is rich in the energy and specific nutrients that babies need to grow and develop properly. It contains a range of valuable antibodies that help bolster your baby’s immune system against illness and disease. According to the World Health Organization, breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight or obese, and may be less likely to develop diabetes later in life. Women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
Now that we know why it’s good, how can an Intended Mother breastfeed her baby born through surrogacy?
Producing breast milk
The biggest obstacle as an Intended Mother who wants to breastfeed your baby born through surrogacy is that your body will not have the natural surge of hormones required for your body to produce breast milk. This means you will have to rely on medications.
Taking progesterone and estrogen to stimulate milk production
Progesterone and estrogens are produced in large amounts during pregnancy and reach peak levels near the end of pregnancy. Then along comes another hormone, prolactin. Prolactin is the most important hormone for the actual initiation of breastfeeding after giving birth. But, it’s the drop in estrogen and progesterone levels after giving birth that stimulates the breasts to produce milk.
Taking a combination of estrogen and progesterone in the three to four months before your baby’s birth will help stimulate your breasts to produce milk. You can also apply estrogen patches directly to your breast in addition to taking oral progesterone.
Taking metoclopramide to raise prolactin levels
While there aren’t really any medications specifically made for increasing milk supply, there are some prescription drugs that are made for other conditions that are often used for this purpose. Metoclopramide is one of the most widely prescribed medicines in the U.S. to induce lactation and raise prolactin levels. Results can often be seen within just a few days.
It’s important to understand that medication alone will not be enough to establish a good milk supply. You’ll still need to nurse or pump frequently to stimulate milk production.
Natural supplements for breast milk production
There’s good research to show that certain herbs can help to stimulate breast milk production. These are called galactagogues, and they’re easy to purchase over-the-counter or in the form of tea. Try fenugreek, fennel, nettle, blessed thistle, and ginger.
Breastfeeding requires an enormous amount of nutrients – so your diet needs to be as wholesome as possible. The healthiest breastfeeding diet includes plenty of dark, leafy greens, whole grains, brightly-colored vegetables, lean proteins (red meat, poultry, and fish), nuts, and seeds. Try to avoid unhealthy things like refined sugar, fried foods, processed foods, and anything that isn’t natural.
Tips for breastfeeding
The sooner, the better
The six weeks before your baby’s birth is the best time to start encouraging your breast milk production. To get things going, try a gentle nipple massage. You can then move on to pumping a couple of times a day for a few minutes at a time.
Pumping your breast milk
Once your milk supply kicks off, you can start using a breast pump. You can either buy your own pump or rent one. It’s a good idea to pump as often as possible so that you can have a supply on hand. Of course, every mother’s supply is different, so don’t feel pressured to produce a certain amount.
If you get time, have a chat with the maternity staff in the birthing center or hospital where your baby will be born. Let them know that you would like to start breastfeeding as soon as possible after the birth, and they will do what they can to help make this happen. Ideally, you should start breastfeeding within the 30 minutes after your baby is born – but this isn’t always possible. Other options include cup feeding or finger feeding.
Skin-to-skin contact is important
There’s a growing body of evidence that skin-to-skin contact after the birth helps relax both mother and baby, stimulates the baby’s appetite, and stimulates the release of hormones required for breastfeeding and mothering.
The great thing about breastfeeding is that the more you do it, the more your body produces breast milk. Your baby’s suckling actually stimulates the nerve endings in your nipples, causing your milk production to increase.
Focus on bonding
Again, remember that every mom’s breastfeeding experience is different, and it doesn’t always go perfectly. If you’re not able to produce much milk, don’t be discouraged. It’s impossible to know how much milk you’ll be able to produce, especially if it’s your first time. Just know that even small amounts of your milk have benefits. Focus on the relationship between you and your baby, and not just the milk.
There’s nothing wrong with supplementing your breast milk with formula or donated breast milk. And the most important thing is bonding! Your time with your newborn comes first. You’re not a failure if you can’t produce breast milk.
Keep in mind that your surrogate will naturally produce nutrient-rich colostrum milk full of healthy antibodies. Your surrogate may be willing to pump breast milk for you to give your baby, even if she’s not interested in breastfeeding.
Still have questions? No problem – the friendly team at FSC are happy to help you out. Many of our staff have been Surrogates or Intended Parents themselves, so they know exactly how you’re feeling. Send us a message and we’ll be in touch!
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have.