Intended Mothers and Lactation

 

breastfeeding-toddler

Many parents via surrogacy will desire to have the most hands on experience possible, including the experience of breastfeeding. Some intended mothers may be surprised to learn that, despite not carrying or birthing the child herself, she is still able to produce breast milk and nurse her newborn.

The process, also called adoptive breastfeeding, induced lactation or relactation, puts an end to commonly believed myths that only fertile, recently delivered women are able to produce milk or nurse a baby. The act of nursing your new baby can be a wonderful bonding experience for mother and child.

The reality is that any woman is able to stimulate milk production. While it is true that women who have previously delivered and produced milk may have an easier time with relactation, it is not a prerequisite. Intended mothers also do not have to undergo hormone therapy in order to produce the milk.

In many cases all that is required is nipple stimulation. This can be achieved through hand massage, partner suckling or hand expression.

In other cases some intended mothers may opt for medications, herbs or, in some cases, optional hormone supplements in order to increase supply. Once baby arrives you’ll begin nursing as soon and as often as possible. It is likely that your initial production may not be enough to meet your newborn’s needs. This scenario is very common, occurring not only in cases of relactation but also in traditional nursing scenarios as well, and is no cause for concern. In this case you may supplement with breast milk from a milk bank, breast milk from your surrogate or with formula.

A benefit of choosing to pursue induced lactation is that you can begin producing your own breast milk well before your baby is due to arrive. This will allow you to have a supply on hand at birth as well as time to work with a lactation specialist and be comfortable with your production before the new baby gets here.

There are several methods and protocols available, but nearly all recommend the use of an at-breast-supplementer and breast pump. It’s probably advisable to consult with a lactation specialist through your local La Leche League to find the protocol and method that is best for you. This person should be able to coach you through nipple stimulation, hand expression, and breast massage as well.

You may also want to talk with your doctor or your OB/GYN prior to starting nipple stimulation and milk production to ensure the best method for you and if you want to take any hormonal or herbal supplements.

There are also a great number of books available for further research into the subject of relcation. Continuing to educate yourself on the process as well as on human milk production and nursing in general could be highly helpful as you prepare or the exciting future of having, and potentially nursing, your new baby.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: An Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Red Wheel Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.