The Pros and Cons of Pumping as a Surrogate

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The decision to pump is a shared decision between a surrogate and her intended parent(s). Some surrogates choose not to pump, some pump for a short time and others provide breast milk for their surrobabe for an extended period of time. Whatever you choose, exclusively pumping for donation is a lot different than pumping for your own child, so make sure it works for both you and your intended family.

What is surrogate milk donation?

After giving birth, the surrogate may choose to extend their surrogacy journey and pump breast milk for the surrobabe. This is a common part of the surrogacy process and can range from the first part of the child’s life and some even extend the amount of time they pump for their Intended Family. Some parents know they would like to have a surrogate pump before their surrogacy journey begins, while others make the decision during the surrogacy process, or choose not to have the surrogate pump for them. Any agreement the surrogate and intended family makes will be included, or amended, in the surrogacy agreement. If the Intended Parents do not wish for the surrogate to pump, she can donate her breast milk to a milk bank or she may choose to suppress lactation, more commonly known as drying up her milk supply.

Do you have to pump for your intended family?

As part of our Matching Matters process, ConceiveAbilities matching experts will ask you whether you intend to pump and this topic will be addressed during the initial match meeting with your IPs. Although you may be asked about your thoughts on pumping, you do not need to make the choice early in the process and can wait until you are further in your surrogacy journey to make your final decision.

Pumping after delivery is not a requirement for surrogates, nor is it an expectation. If your intended parents want to feed their baby breast milk and you are either unable or choose not to provide it, ConceiveAbilities staff will help them to explore other options, such as milk banks.

If you do decide to pump or donate your milk after your surrogacy journey, lactation expert Lenna Gregory of Mother’s Milk Bank has some pro pumping, shipping and donating tips.

If you are undecided on whether or not you want to pump, here is a short list of pros and cons to help you sort out whether pumping as a surrogate is right for you.

Pros of Pumping As a Gestational Surrogate

1) Surrogacy Pumping Community Already Exists

Although the idea of pumping as a surrogate may be new to you, there are many women who have been sharing their ideas and providing support for one another for many years. A quick Google search results in dozens of online resources and communities that are all devoted to pumping surrogates. These networks like La Leche League are a rich resource capable of providing you with both practical insight and inspiration. We especially recommend checking out this Pumping After A Surrogacy Pregnancy Facebook group. There are also great resources and lactation experts like Balanced Beginnings to help you navigate your pumping journey.

2) Pumping Is Good for your Health

Pumping promotes nearly all of the healing and health benefits that breastfeeding does. Specifically, pumping will help with your fourth trimester recovery by shrinking your uterus, burning extra calories, and helping reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Plus, pumping releases oxytocin, a powerful hormone linked to love, trust, and pair bonding. All of this leads to great outcomes for your health including

  • Increasing calorie burn
  • Reducing the mother's risk of breast and ovarian cancer
  • Reducing type 2 diabetes
  • Reducing high blood pressure
    Here is a great resource from America College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists about how to prepare to pump after giving birth.

3) Breast Milk is Liquid Gold

Breast Milk is full of antibodies that help babies to fight off viruses and bacteria. The milk you provide will help bolster your surrobaby’s immunity and decrease episodes of diarrheal illness, ear infections, severe lower respiratory tract infections, diabetes, obesity, and sudden infant death syndrome. No wonder the American Academy of Pediatrics considers breastmilk the most 'optimal form of nutrition’ for infants. Read more about breastfeeding benefits!

  • Complete nutrition for infant
  • Antibodies that build strong immune system
  • Protection from diseases like diabetes type 1, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome

4) Pumping is Easier than Ever

Some insurance companies, and possibly your intended parents, will cover the cost of your breast pump and lactation counselor. There is a lot of pumping equipment on the market, so choose the best pump for you. There are some very innovative, new products on the market that makes pumping easier than ever like The Willow™ Pump, which was the first wearable breast pump that fits in your bra with no external tubes, cords, or dangling bottles to hold you back. You can pump while vacuuming, shopping at Target, you name it! There are also inventive products like Freeze It Flat by Mammaway and Milkify, which freeze dries breast milk.

5) Pumping Compensation

One of our most frequently asked surrogate questions is, “If I choose to pump for my intended family, will I be compensated?” The answer is yes, you will receive additional compensation in addition to the rest of your surrogate pay. Although compensation is likely not one of your primary motivations, you will be compensated by your intended parent(s) for extending your surrogacy journey and that will be included in your mutually agreed upon gestational carrier agreement. This is in addition to your All-In Surrogate Care & Compensation Package.

6) You Can Donate Your Milk And Make A Difference

Many of our surrogates have questions about donating breast milk after their surrogacy pregnancy, in addition to pumping for their surrobabe. Donating human milk can have a life-saving impact for babies born everyday. In the United States, 450,000 babies are born prematurely every year, and others struggle with serious illness. These fragile babies will survive and thrive thanks to the generosity of human milk donors who give the critical nourishment they need. Just one ounce of breast milk can feed a baby in a neonatal intensive care unit for an entire day. Read more about how to donate your milk.

While there are so many pros to pumping for your surrobaby, there are reasons why pumping may not be the right choice for you.

Cons of Pumping As a Gestational Surrogate

1) Timing: Pumping is Hard Work

Although it is easier now than ever, exclusively pumping can take some work and it may still cause multiple interruptions to your daily and nightly schedule. For some busy mamas, fitting this additional task into their schedules is just not a possibility.

2) Shipping Milk is Tricky

Shipping to Intended Parents who are not local may be extra work to both pump your breast milk and also ship it. Since breast milk is perishable, you will have to follow some strict instructions to assure that it arrives fit for consumption. You and your Intended Family will make the shared decision on how often your ship. Make certain you and your Intended Parents have discussed not only compensation for breast milk but also reimbursement for costs associated with shipping as you may be surprised how expensive it is to ship a week’s worth of milk cross-country. Watch this video featuring lactation expert Lenna Gregory on how to pump, ship or donate your breast milk after your surrogacy pregnancy delivery.

3) Uninterested Intended Parents

Some intended parents may not want to have their surrogate pump. If you find yourself in this situation, willing and wanting to pump, your Match Manager can try to find you another intended family that wants donor breast milk or you can consider donating your milk to a milk bank. With the infant baby formula shortage and lasting effects of the pandemic, milk banks urgently need replenishing. Many hospitals also are interested in donated breast milk for premature babies. Learn more about joining the #MilkBankChallenge and the process to donate your breast milk. Watch our founder Nazca Fontes share why our Milk Bank Challenge has been so important.

Whatever your decision, your match manager will guide you through every step of the surrogacy process.

Calling All Surrogates

Are you a woman who enjoyed a healthy and successful pregnancy? Do you have friends or family who have suffered from infertility or need assistance from someone else to build their family? Have you ever considered the role you could play in helping someone else build their family - as a surrogate? Learn more about the process of helping someone else's dream of building a family come true. We would love to talk with you.

Be a surrogate