When you hire a surrogate to carry your baby, there are a lot of decisions you’ll have to make. But, have you given thought to breastfeeding once your child is born?
It may surprise you to know that many intended mothers (and adoptive mothers) are able to breastfeed their children after birth, even though they weren’t pregnant themselves. The decision of whether or not to breastfeed — or whether or not your surrogate pumps for your baby — will always be up to your preferences.
Whether you’re considering breastfeeding your child, or you are interested in having your gestational carrier pump breastmilk for you, there’s an important thing you should know about first: colostrum. It may very well make a difference in what path you eventually choose.
For this year’s National Breastfeeding Month, find some basic information below about this medical marvel.
Remember: The information presented in this article is not intended to be and should not be taken as medical advice. We encourage you to always speak with your doctor for advice on what will be best for your newborn baby.
What is Colostrum, and Why is it so Special?
Colostrum is a special kind of breastmilk that is only produced right after a woman gives birth. It’s a sticky, yellow fluid that has everything a baby needs to transition to life outside the womb. All infants can benefit from colostrum, but studies have shown that colostrum has an immense benefit for preterm babies.
So, what are the advantages of colostrum?
- It contains antibodies and white blood cells that help a baby build its immune system.
- It creates a tough coating on a baby’s stomach and intestines to protect from germs.
- It acts as a laxative to help a baby pass its first poop.
- It helps prevent jaundice.
- It provides the right nutrients to help the brain, eyes and heart grow.
- It’s an easy first food for babies to digest, containing high levels of protein, salts, fats and vitamins.
Colostrum is usually produced within the first few days of birth. Women typically stop producing colostrum about two to five days after delivery. Then, “transitional milk” (a mixture of colostrum and more mature milk) comes in. By this time, a baby’s stomach will be ready to digest larger amounts of more mature milk.
Should Your Surrogate Pump Her Colostrum for Your Baby?
Because of colostrum’s benefits, many new mothers who don’t plan to breastfeed extensively still ensure their baby receives colostrum directly after birth.
But, if you’re having a child via surrogacy, getting colostrum to your baby isn’t as simple as it is in a traditional birth. Even if you plan to induce lactation to feed your baby, you will not produce colostrum (which is related to the production of human placental lactogen). If you want your baby to receive the benefits of colostrum, you will need to have your surrogate pump after birth.
Asking your gestational carrier to pump breastmilk for you is not a question to bring up for the first time in the delivery room. It should be a conversation that you have long before she delivers — possibly even during the drafting of your surrogacy contract. It’s important to iron out the details, such as how long she will pump, how the milk will be delivered to your baby, and whether she’ll receive any extra compensation for doing so. Remember: Pumping breastmilk is a big commitment, so your surrogate needs to be actively involved in this decision.
If you decide to have your surrogate provide colostrum to your baby after birth, you’ll need to talk to your surrogate about the details of this experience, as part of your overall hospital plan. Will your surrogate need to pump directly after delivery? Will you have her breastfeed your child instead? Your surrogacy specialist can also help mediate this conversation.
Remember: You are in Charge of Your Breastmilk Preferences
When you’re an intended parent, you always get to decide what the best medical decisions for your child are. If you want to induce lactation and feed them yourself, great! If you choose to bottle-feed instead, that’s okay, too! It’s all up to what your doctor recommends and what will work best for your own schedule.
No matter what you decide, you are still a good parent. Unfortunately, there is a lot of debate out there about breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding, but one is not inherently better than the other. As long as you do your research and talk to your surrogate about your plans for breastfeeding colostrum and mature milk, you will be able to make the decision that is right for your family.
Want to learn more about how breastfeeding works with surrogacy? Talk to our surrogacy specialists today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) or contact us online.