Can I Breastfeed My Child Born Through Surrogacy?
One question that I see asked constantly by intended mothers is “will I be able to breastfeed my baby once they are born?”… the short answer is that yes, it is possible.
The long answer is that you need to be prepared to fight to obtain the required medication, and that there is a chance that induced lactation may not be successful and if it is, then you may not have a full supply. Induced lactation takes perseverance, commitment, and a thick skin. You need to be prepared for the fact that it may not be successful, and that supplementing or combi feeding may have to be an option. Also, be prepared to smell of maple syrup for a while!
During my surrogacy journey I was asked if I planned to express for the baby at all. Unfortunately, due to Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT), my body is unable to produce much, if any, milk or colostrum. With my eldest I had no milk or colostrum come through at all, and with my youngest I remember one evening where I sat attached to a breast pump for over an hour to achieve less than a quarter of an ounce of milk. No further milk ever came in, so I knew that I wouldn’t be able to express. If I was able to, and if the parents wanted me to, then I certainly would have. Also, my IM had been adamant from the beginning that she wanted to attempt induced lactation and I was backing her all the way with it!
I’m very lucky in that Laura, who is my IM and cousin, has offered to share her story in how she managed to successfully induce lactation through a combination of medication, herbal supplements, and pumping. This is her own personal story, and a further post will be posted later on describing the protocol in more detail.
“Breastfeeding is always something that I had wanted to do once my child was born; it is the most natural thing in the world to do. It was one thing that I didn’t want to miss out on when it came to being a mum, plus the antibodies in my milk would benefit my baby. When it became evident that I would not be the one carrying my child, I wasn’t sure on where I stood with breastfeeding. My cousin and surrogate, Jenna, had mentioned about induced lactation and this was something that I seriously considered. At our sixteen week midwife appointment, our midwife asked me if I had thought of breastfeeding and that she could refer me to a lactation consultant at the local hospital; I jumped at the chance and happily gave my details for her to refer me.
Soon after this appointment I met with the lactation consultant who discussed the protocol with me. I would need to start taking the mini pill along with domperidone in order to induce my milk. I had no issues at all in obtaining a prescription for the mini pill, however the domperidone was a completely different story.
As domperidone is not prescribed for inducing lactation (this is more of a side effect to the drug), my GP was reluctant to prescribe it; as time passed, I ended up obtaining a private prescription and was finally able to receive it from a pharmacist. Alongside these prescriptions, I was also taking three Fenugreek and three Goats Rue tablets, three times daily; a total of 18 tablets per day – these are how I started to smell of Maple Syrup! I started taking the mini pill around June, when Jenna was about 20 weeks pregnant, and the domperidone in mid August, although this would have been a lot sooner if I had been able to obtain the domperidone earlier. I started to pump using a Medela Breast Pump around a month later and started to notice some clear droplets early on; I also came off the mini pill the day before I started to pump. The pumping was difficult as I was having to do this every three hours to establish a routine, so was setting my alarm throughout the night to pump – eating a lot of hobnobs definitely kept me awake though!
Soon enough I was expressing enough milk to be able to store and freeze ready for our daughters arrival. Whilst the protocol helped to induce lactation, I wasn’t able to produce a full supply which is completely normal; I didn’t care too much as I was still over the moon that my body was able to produce any milk at all considering that I wasn’t even pregnant!
Our daughter finally arrived on Bonfire Night and we soon settled into a fantastic combi feeding routine; I breastfed her and then topped her up on my stash of expressed milk of which I had frozen. Around Christmas time I started to wean myself off the domperidone and the herbal tablets; luckily my supply didn’t drop and I am still able to breastfeed my daughter almost eight months on! We are combi feeding with formula at the moment, but I am so amazed at myself and my body; this isn’t something that I ever thought I could do through surrogacy and I am so grateful that I can!”
Also, if you want to read a bit more about Laura’s journey, she has started her own blog too!