Lactation After Surrogacy | Options For Intended Parents

In the blog series “Surrogacy Providers” Heartland Surrogacy aims to provide a wealth of information to our readers, shedding light on various topics in the field of surrogacy. Each article is crafted to offer invaluable insights, expert advice, and guidance from seasoned professionals to empower individuals and couples exploring surrogacy.

The term “breastfeeding” carries a gendered assumption associated with female anatomy, excluding diverse experiences. To ensure inclusivity, Heartland uses the term “chest-feeding” as an alternative, recognizing the wider range of gender identities and body types involved in infant feeding.

A Lactation Consultant and La Leche League Leader, Natalie, talks to us about chest-feeding, pumping milk, and nourishing babies. She worked as a WIC breastfeeding Peer Counselor and raised four children herself. With over 11 years of experience, Natalie has been passionate about helping breastfeeding families, including in rare circumstances such as surrogacy.

What is a Lactation Consultant?

Natalie explained that one IBCLC is an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. IBCLCs are health care professionals who specialize in breastfeeding and clinical lactation management.

According to IBCLC Commission, there are three pathways for eligibility: Health Sciences Education, a minimum of 95 hours of lactation-specific education, and relevant clinical experience. These three eligibility pathways allow individuals from diverse backgrounds to acquire knowledge and skills relevant to practicing as an IBCLC. The certification exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions and is divided into two parts. The entire test is approximately 4 hours in duration.

Feeding Babies Born Through Surrogacy

When it comes to providing nutrition for their newborn, intended parents have many feeding options:

Inducing lactation before the baby arrives (or after)

    • Lactation stimulation for intended parents is a gradual process of providing nutrition for your newborn. It can be started months before the surrogate gives birth or, depending on the circumstances, after the baby’s arrival.
    • Under the guidance of a medical professional, hormone therapy is used to mimic the natural process the human body undergoes during pregnancy and childbirth, effectively triggering lactation.

supplement in chesst with infant formula or human milk

    • The SupplementAn ental Nursing System (SNS) is a great way for babies to get all the nutrients they need while breastfeeding without the hassle of preparing and cleaning bottles.
    • It consists of a container (disposable or reusable) and a capillary tube that leads from the container to the nipple of the lactating parent. This system allows parents to use their own milk, substitute milk, donor milk, or formula during feeding.

Bottle-feeding formula or human milk from a surrogate or donor

    • Bottle feeding is another popular option that offers flexibility. Early on, intended parents can choose to bottle-feed their baby, which is great for families with multiple caregivers. This way, everyone can take turns feeding at night, making it easier for the whole family.
    • Bottle feeding is a straightforward approach without complicated lactation prompts.

There can be different combinations of these options. Depending on what all parties want to do, sometimes a surrogate or gestational carrier will continue to provide milk for the baby/babies for some time after birth. Another option is for the surrogate to donate their milk to a milk bank or other family in need.

Lactation Resources for Intended Parents

Reviewing your situation with an IBCLC and seeking breastfeeding support is very important. For lactation consultants who support parents trying to induce lactation, there are many excellent professional groups online made up of people with a variety of experiences. Bekki Hockman leads a Facebook group for non-pregnant parents, and his story about inducing lactation provides a related perspective.

According to Hospital Infant Feeding Networkthe protocol for inducing lactation is called Newman Goldfarb protocol because it was designed by Dr. Jack Newman and his patient, Lenore Goldfarb. It uses a combination of contraceptive hormones, physical stimulation with a chest pump, and domperidone medication to mimic the hormonal changes of pregnancy and childbirth.

Research is still being done to see if this is an effective way to introduce breastfeeding to people who were born biologically male. The National Library of Medicine features one such study here.

Of course, every family is unique. And, like all families, creative ways can be used to feed and care for babies. So, yes, using a combination of the above is common, just as using a combination of feeding methods is common in other situations outside of surrogacy.

Choose a system that is natural and right for your family’s needs. You may change your process a few days or a few months into parenting, and that’s okay!

Pumping after Surrogacy

For gestational carriers, contact the intended parents and see what you all are comfortable with. That could be breastfeeding or pumping in those early days or giving human milk for a long time. Keep an open mind. Plans and feelings can change on both ends. There are no rights or wrongs here, but respecting feelings and boundaries is important.

woman with breast pump and researching lactation after surrogacy options

This should be a mutual agreement between all parties involved. If the intended parents will not use carrier milk, they may choose to continue breastfeeding and donate their milk instead.

If the carrier decides not to express their milk or stops before the previously agreed time frame, this is valid and must be respected. It may be helpful for them to talk to an IBCLC or a breastfeeding counselor to help stop breastfeeding. Gradually limiting pumping sessions as the breastfeeding person weans off the pump will help their body adjust more easily and help prevent enlargement, plugged ducts, or mastitis.

Other resources for donating and obtaining milk include:
Breast Milk Bank

Human Milk Foundation

The Milk Bank

Many thanks to Natalie for the great information and resource.

To learn more about Natalie’s work, please visit her website at

To find a League of La Leche meeting or leader near you, visit theirs website.

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