After delivery, some gestational carriers (GCs) will pump breastmilk for several weeks or months and send it to the intended parents. The desire for GCs to provide breastmilk for their surrobabes and for how long is a topic that is discussed between the GC and intended parents during the match process.
While the benefits for the baby are obvious (breastmilk is referred to as “liquid gold” after all), pumping can also be beneficial for the surrogate. Pumping can help with the healing and recovery process by shrinking the uterus, reducing uterine bleeding and burning extra calories.
In recognition of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, we asked some of our GCs to share their advice and tips for pumping as a surrogate.
Leanna, a two-time surrogate, pumped for her first set of intended parents for four months and was able to fill their freezer with enough breastmilk to get them through the first six months. She continued pumping for a few additional weeks and donated milk to help feed 11 babies.
“I enjoy pumping and helping to nourish sweet little babies,” Leanna says. “My advice for other GCs is to let your body take control. Don’t stress – every breast and body are different. What you produce is enough. And remember that you are a rockstar!”
She adds, “It doesn’t have to be an around-the-clock job. Make sure to stay hydrated, relax and get some sleep. I don’t wake in the middle of the night to pump, and I average 60 plus ounces a day.”
Read below for more pumping tips:
Kayla: Buy the LaVie heated massagers to help with letdown and clogged ducts and a three-tier rolling cart to hold your pump and all your supplies. I also recommend purchasing the Nipple Queen Ruler on Amazon to make sure you get the right size flanges.
Becky: Have at least one full extra set of parts. Don’t overlook the manual pump. It really comes in handy in certain situations.
Jenn: Stay hydrated and eat the proper amount of calories for your body. Breastfeeding requires an additional 500 calories, but if you over produce, it’s about 20 calories more per ounce that you need. Have a little snack cart/tote for the nighttime pumps and get a big water jug to keep with you.
Meg: Take sunflower lecithin to prevent clogged ducts and mastitis.
Ashlee: Keep an extra bag of pump supplies and an extra charging cable in your car. Never take it out unless you need it, then immediately replace it once you get home. Cloth diaper bags work great for storing parts that are clean or dirty.
Laura: Having a car adapter to plug in on the go is critical, also a hands-free pumping bra.
Jessica: Massage your breasts toward the nipple while pumping to increase output and power pump when your supply is decreasing or when needing to increase supply to keep up with the baby’s appetite. Also, having a pump with a battery option is great for when you’re on the go.
Heather: Have a good pump and make sure your flanges are the correct size. Don’t necessarily trust the lactation consultants at the hospital to size you (most women are not a 24 or 28!). Pump just as much as you would breastfeed a newborn, even in the middle of the night, when first starting off. Freeze-It-Flats are great for maximizing space when freezing.
Sammy: Be kind to yourself. You just had a baby and are now trying to pump. It’s a journey. You may be an over, a just enougher or under producer – don’t give up and know that the intended parents appreciate every single ounce.
Chelsea: Find your comfy spot. If you’re pumping every couple of hours, you will get frustrated if you aren’t comfortable.
A Message from the Surrogate Solutions Team:
We want to thank all the amazing surrogates who contributed to this article. We have an incredible community of GCs who support, encourage and educate one another. Here are some additional resources: https://www.human-milk.com https://milkbank.org/ and there are additional Facebook groups for pumping surrogates.
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