Many intended mothers have asked, “Can you breastfeed after surrogacy?” You may be surprised to learn that, yes; you can potentially breastfeed a baby born via surrogacy. In fact, many mothers choose to breastfeed, regardless of whether or not they carried their babies themselves.
However, breastfeeding isn’t your only option, nor is it right for everyone. You’ve likely heard of the many benefits of breastfeeding — but there are also benefits to your other two options, so it’s always worthwhile to consider them all.
In general, there are three ways you can feed your baby:
1. Breastfeeding as an Intended Mother
If you choose to try to breastfeed your baby yourself, you should first talk to your doctor. This option requires preparation in advance, including:
- Taking prescribed hormones (typically birth control pills) to convince your body that it’s pregnant and to help it prepare for milk production
- Taking prescribed herbal supplements and additional medications to help with milk production
- Pumping before the baby is born to promote milk flow with increasing frequency and session duration, in the hopes that you’ll begin producing milk around the time the baby is born
- Nursing when the baby is born
- Supplementing with donated breast milk, your surrogate’s breast milk, or formula as needed (Most women will not produce enough milk to fully nourish a baby on their own)
You’ll need to coordinate with your doctor (and/or a lactation specialist) to induce lactation and maintain healthy milk production as you prepare for your baby’s arrival. It’s important to note that breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone, and inducing lactation can add more variables to an already tricky equation for many women and babies.
2. Asking Your Surrogate to Pump Breast Milk
Some families have also asked, “Can a surrogate breastfeed?” Or, “Should a surrogate mother breastfeed for the baby’s health benefit?”
Sure, surrogate mothers can breastfeed — but most don’t.
If you feel strongly about the benefits of breast milk, you can consider asking your surrogate to pump for you after the baby is born. You can then feed the baby with a bottle or a supplemental nursing system.
Note that surrogates are not required to pump for their intended family, nor do surrogate mothers breastfeed if either of you are uncomfortable with that. Pumping breast milk is tiring and time-consuming (as you’ll discover if you decide to induce lactation yourself), so if you ask your surrogate to do this when you negotiate your contract together, you’ll compensate your surrogate accordingly (usually about $150 per week) for her time, plus pumping supplies and shipping costs.
However, between the medications and equipment needed to induce lactation and pump yourself, or the costs of formula, this option may not be much more expensive than the other two. This option will be something you’ll need to discuss with your surrogate, as it is a fair amount of work for her.
3. Formula Feeding or Combining Methods
Again, you’ll likely need to supplement your baby’s diet with some amount of formula, even if you breastfeed or supply him or her with donor or surrogate breast milk. While there are notable health benefits of breast milk, your baby will also thrive on formula. What matters most is that he or she is fed!
Your pediatrician should always be your first resource if you’re unsure what formula to use, when choosing between breastfeeding and formula, or when finding the right combination of methods that are best for your baby’s continued growth and health. Remember that every situation is different and every baby will have their own needs, regardless of whether or not he or she was born via surrogate.
Can you breastfeed if you had a surrogate? With preparation and a little luck, absolutely. However, this is a personal choice. All three options are equally good — it all comes down to what works best for you and your baby! Talk to your pediatrician, your own doctor, or your American Surrogacy specialist by calling 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for more information about feeding your surro-born baby.