Surrogacy Stories is a blog series complied by Heartland Surrogacy. In this series we will bring you personal perspectives on surrogacy from a variety of people; surrogates, intended parents, and the professionals who have been lucky enough to work with them. Today we bring you a surrogacy story from Natalie, a lactation consultant. Please stay tuned for future Surrogacy Stories from a doula, attorney, and a surrogate!

Natalie is a Lactation Consultant, La Leche League Leader, and has also worked as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor at WIC. She has over 11 years of experience in this work, in addition to breastfeeding four children herself. Natalie is passionate about helping families with breastfeeding, including in special circumstances such as surrogacy.

 Hi Natalie, thanks for talking with us! First of all, what is a Lactation Consultant?

Natalie: An IBCLC is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. IBCLCs are healthcare professionals specializing in the clinical management of breastfeeding and lactation.

As you know, Heartland Surrogacy matches surrogates with intended parents. What feeding options are available  after a surrogate birth?

Natalie: Parents have a lot of feeding options. They can range from inducing lactation before baby arrives (or after), supplementing (see SNS, below) at the breast with infant formula or human milk, bottle-feeding human milk from the surrogate mother or donor, to bottle-feeding formula. And there can be various combinations of these options as well. Depending on what both families would like to do, sometimes a surrogate or gestational carrier will continue to provide milk for the baby/babies for a period of time after the birth. Another option is for the surrogate to donate her milk to a milk bank or other family in need.

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Is it common for new intended parents to use a combination of above?

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

Good point! What resources do you recommend for intended parents, particularly if they plan to induce lactation or use a supplemental nursing system (SNS)?

Natalie: Many parents looking to breastfeed a child they did not birth will use the Newman Goldfarb protocol; this can be found on the asklenore.com  But also evaluating your situation with an LC as well as finding your breastfeeding support is very important. For lactation consultants [who are supporting a parent that is trying to induce lactation], there are many great professional groups online consisting of people with lots of different experiences.

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[The supplemental nursing system (SNS) (above) consists of a container and a capillary

tube leading from the container to the mother’s nipple. Image by MommyGear. ] 

 

What advice would you give to a gestational carrier who plans to pump or nurse after delivery?

Natalie: You have some great options. Communicate with the intended parents, see what you are both comfortable with. Perhaps that could be nursing in those first days or providing milk longer term. Keep an open mind. Plans and feeling can change on both ends. There are not necessarily right or wrongs here, but respect feeling and boundaries.

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What options does a gestational carrier have if she will not be nursing the baby?

Natalie: If the intended parents will not be using the carrier’s milk, the carrier may choose to continue lactating and donate her milk instead. If the carrier decides not to express milk or to stop, she may find it helpful to talk to an LC or a breastfeeding counselor. If she has been expressing milk for some time, she may want to gradually cut back pumping as she weans off the pump. This will help her body adjust more easily and help prevent engorgement, plugged ducts or mastitis.

In general, I recommend communication and to keep an open mind. Everyone will have their own feelings and that is OK. And everyone should have their own support team as well.

That is great advice, thank you Natalie! To learn more about Natalie’s work, please visit her website at qclactation.com

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