Breastmilk for Surrogacy: to Pump or not to Pump

By The Egg Donor & Surrogacy Program on April 13, 2018

breastmilk

To pump or not to pump – that is the question when it comes to obtaining breastmilk for surrogacy. We have the honor of meeting intended parents and surrogate angels from all walks of life, and the answers are as many and varied as the people themselves.  Some intended parents come to us insistent on receiving 100% breast milk for their babies and inquiring as to whether their surrogate mothers are willing to pump. Others don’t even think about the possibility of receiving breastmilk. The short answer is that there is no wrong answer, and there are quite a few possible solutions.

Let’s start with the surrogate mother side of this debate. More often than not, surrogates do not choose to pump. After all of the months leading up to getting pregnant and 9 months of pregnancy, many surrogate moms prefer to return to their non-pregnant lives and enjoy some quiet downtime with their families without the interruption of pumping. Make no mistake, pumping is a significant commitment of time and energy, and it is completely understandable to want to have that time to simply rest and recover as well.  However, there are some great perks for pumping surrogate mothers who are up for the task including:

  • A speedier recovery- all of that pumping helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size.
  • Weight loss- many surrogates find they lose the pregnancy pounds faster if they are pumping because of the increased caloric burn.
  • Another way of giving back- sometimes surrogate mothers feel a little bit of a let down (pardon the terrible pun!) when they have completed their extraordinary quest of safely delivering a baby to loving parents. Their amazing mission is complete! Pumping to provide milk either to their surrogate baby or to donate can often serve as a nice altruistic transition back to normal life, fulfilling that strong desire to give to others that makes surrogate mothers tick.
  • Extra compensation- surrogate mothers who pump to provide milk at their intended parent’s request receive additional weekly compensation for their time and efforts to do so and it can add up to about $1,000 per month ($250 per week) so that is a nice extra financial perk for all of the time spent doing it.
The downsides include the time spent pumping and washing pump parts, the efforts to ship milk or coordinate pick ups and drop offs, and the physical discomforts that can come with lactation.

Now on to the intended parent’s side of this debate. Intended parents are growing increasingly passionate about seeking out breast milk for their babies so that their babies get all of the health benefits of breast milk.  There are many known health benefits of breastmilk for babies. The great news is that there are many ways to go about getting breast milk:

  • Surrogate Mother Pumping- if your surrogate mother is able and willing to pump to provide breastmilk this is a great way of obtaining breastmilk for your baby. Any quantity of breastmilk has health benefits, so even if you only choose to receive milk for a short period of time it is still beneficial.
  • Private Donor Milk- there are many ways to locate and connect with private milk donors online, some of which are even surrogate mothers whose intended parents decided they didn’t want to receive milk. Of course, safety comes first so be sure to do your due diligence by consulting with your pediatrician and properly screening your breastmilk donors.
  • Donor Milk Bank- there is donor milk available through milk banks where they test, compile and pasteurize the milk of many donor moms before packaging and freezing it to ship to you. Pasteurization does change the immunity properties of breastmilk but this is an accessible way to purchase milk for roughly $4 per ounce. A prescription may be required from a pediatrician for this option.
Some intended parents go to great lengths to feed their baby 100% breastmilk avoiding formula altogether, others supplement the breastmilk they receive with formula, and some choose to go with 100% formula.  When it comes to feeding a surrogate baby, the consensus remains that fed is best. The Surrogacy Program wishes you many happy feedings ahead after your surrogate baby's arrival!

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