How do I feed my surrogate baby?

August marks National Breastfeeding Awareness month, a month dedicated to celebrating breastfeeding and the health benefits that go along with it.

We absolutely support breastfeeding and condemn the stigma that mothers and fathers get for simply feeding their children. However, not everyone has the ability to breastfeed, and we have received many questions about feeding over the years from our clients. What happens if your baby was born via surrogacy? Can you breastfeed a surrogacy baby? What are the feeding options for parents using a surrogate? What formula is best for a surrogacy baby?

At Donor Concierge, we are committed to supporting all parents through their family building journey, and our team walks clients through each of these considerations. Our Private Client team provides bespoke journey management, supporting clients through pregnancy, birth and beyond. All in all, we have quite a bit of experience finding the best feeding options for our clients.

Want to know how to feed your surrogacy baby? Let’s go over your options.

What are the options?
There are several options for feeding your baby: donated breast milk, and formula. Believe it or not, all of these options are possible for parents via surrogacy. Surrogacy may complicate your feeding options, but you do have options. Many parents don’t consider feeding during their surrogacy journey – and that’s okay! We know there are much more pressing concerns through the process, but we also don’t want parents to reach the feeding stage and regret not planning ahead. So let’s get into the options.

Many parents actually end up choosing breast milk for their baby, through an outlined agreement with their surrogate. Contractual provisions in the gestational carrier agreement can outline the terms for pumping and shipping breast milk.

Donor milk is another option that parents unable to breastfeed often turn to. There are accredited milk banks where parents with excess milk can donate after passing strict screenings. Parents unable to breastfeed can then sign up on a list to receive breast milk as it becomes available. This is a great option for many parents, but we urge you to do your research and to choose an HMBANA accredited bankto avoid scams or poorly screened milk.

Last is baby formula. Many babies in this day and age are formula fed, and it is a great option for parents of all kinds. This is another good option for surrogacy parents, since it is much more readily available and reliable.

Which is best for my baby?
We can’t answer that for you. Only you can! Every family is different, and every family has different needs. The best option for you will be the one that best fits your specific needs. To figure out what those are, we recommend doing your research and talking through some important questions. Is your surrogate open to pumping breast milk? What is your budget? Are you able to find donated sources that you trust and get on their lists? Do you have any concerns about formula?

Knowing your own priorities and individual situation will help you decide. If you have the budget and your surrogate is happy to pump, then breast milk might be a great option for you. If you can find a great baby formula brand that fits your budget, then that might be your best option. And we will be clear – it is not necessarily an “either/or” situation! Many parents take a hybrid approach and use multiple sources to feed their babies.

Preparation is key
As with any important decision, preparation is important! As we discussed before, receiving breast milk from your surrogate is an option, but it needs to be outlined in a contractual provision in your gestational carrier agreement. This provision will establish the flat fee for pumping (your surrogate’s compensation), shipping costs, and more. If you strongly prefer breast milk for your baby, it is important to discuss the issue early to ensure your gestational carrier is on board. Talk it through and come to an agreement that is right for everyone.

If you are looking into donor milk, there are a few considerations. Milk banks require a prescription from your doctor, and it is a good idea to look into several accredited milk banks to get on their lists. These lists are prioritized by infant health, so high-risk babies will be first in line. It is definitely possible for healthy parents and babies to receive donor milk, but milk banks often have high demand and low supply. There are also for-profit milk banks to consider, but commercial milk banks’ screening protocols often don’t meet HMBANA’s requirements.

You will also want to do your due diligence when choosing formula. Whether you choose one of the above options or not, you may use baby formula to supplement your feeding. Or you may go straight to formula. Regardless, you will want to seek out a high quality formula option that fits your price point. (Pssst - we will have more to share on this soon!)

There’s no wrong answer
Here’s the thing - there’s no wrong feeding option. As long as you do your research and choose a safe, high-quality feeding option for your baby, you have chosen correctly. We know this topic can be scary, and there is undue pressure and stigma around all types of feeding that is absolutely undeserved. We support feeding of all kinds, as long as everyone involved is happy and healthy. Pick the right option for you, and remember that how your baby is fed does not equal how much you love your child. Good luck!