understanding breastmilk and surrogacy

Understanding Breastmilk and Surrogacy

When considering surrogacy, intended parents may have questions about feeding their newborn, including the use of breastmilk. Do surrogates provide breastmilk? What infant feeding options do intended parents have? Let’s explore breastmilk and surrogacy. Here’s a guide to understanding feeding options for surrogate-born babies, including surrogate breastmilk typical costs, breastmilk shipping logistics, and alternative feeding choices for parents of surrogate-born babies.

Breastmilk and Surrogacy

Intended parents have several feeding options for their surrogate-born baby, including formula, breastmilk, a combination of both, or induced lactation. Surrogates may pump and provide breastmilk to intended parents for additional costs. Some surrogates may not want to provide this service. It’s important to discuss feeding preferences with the surrogate well beforehand. It’s also helpful to be flexible, as the most important goal is that the baby is well-nourished, and thankfully there are several feeding options for surrogate-born babies.

Surrogates produce breastmilk, and they have a few options to consider. Surrogates can choose to:

  • Pump breastmilk for intended parents
  • Cease breastmilk production by not pumping at all
  • Pump and donate breast milk to a donor milk bank or via community groups
  • Pump and sell breast milk to a milk bank

Typical Surrogate Breastmilk Costs

If intended parents choose to use the surrogate’s breastmilk, the intended parents are expected to provide a breast pump. Typical compensation for the surrogate to pump breastmilk averages $250 per week, though compensation rates vary and must be agreed upon in advance. In addition, intended parents must also cover the cost of shipping and replacement materials (milk storage bags, pump parts). The average cost to ship breastmilk is $400 to $500 per shipment, which must also be covered by the intended parents.

Shipping Breastmilk

Surrogates who choose to pump and ship breastmilk will need freezer-safe storage bags, a Styrofoam cooler, cardboard or a shipping container, dry ice, and a shipping box. The package is typically shipped via overnight or 2-day expedited shipping to ensure the milk remains frozen. Intended parents are expected to provide these materials.

To ship breastmilk, surrogates can use a service such as Milk Stork to streamline the breastmilk shipping process. Others use expedited shipping services through FedEx or UPS.

How long do surrogates pump breastmilk?

It varies! Some surrogates don’t pump at all, and others provide milk only from the first few days during their postpartum hospital stay. Others still will pump for a month or two, and some surrogates will pump for several months. It’s important to discuss surrogate pumping expectations ahead of time, but also to be flexible with the plan. For example, some babies may need to be on a special formula even if the surrogate is able to provide breastmilk. Or, some surrogates are not able to pump enough breastmilk to exclusively feed the baby.

Feeding Options for Surrogate-Born Babies

What are the feeding options for surrogate-born babies? Intended parents can feed:

  • expressed breastmilk from the surrogate
  • formula
  • donor milk not from the surrogate
  • induced lactation
  • any combination of the above

Parents can use standard baby bottles, syringe/finger feed, or use a Supplemental Nursing System.

Understanding Breastmilk and Surrogacy

In conclusion, the choice of feeding method for a surrogate-born baby is a personal decision for the intended parents and the surrogate. It’s essential to have open and honest discussions about feeding preferences, associated costs, and logistical considerations to ensure the best possible care for the newborn.

We’re here to support your parenthood journey after surrogacy. Learn more about how we can help ease the transition from ‘intended parent’ to ‘parent’.