Whether you are currently expecting via surrogacy or just thinking ahead, we are excited to support you as you explore the possibility of breastfeeding your baby! Early research and planning is key! However, you may be feeling overwhelmed or wondering, “Where do I start?”
1. Finding a Board-Certified Lactation Consultant
A great first step would be to reach out directly to an experienced Board-Certified Lactation Consultant who is skilled in helping individuals to induce lactation.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Alyssa Schnell, an expert in the field of inducing lactation, has put together a great local lactation specialist search engine.
The International Lactation Consultant Association has a more generalized search engine to explore Board Certified Lactation Consultants in your area: International Lactation Consultant Association
You may also want to complete an online search for Breastfeeding Centers in your area. Your local hospital’s lactation department may be a good first step.
2. Asking the Right Questions
As with any provider, it is truly about the right fit and there are varying degrees of expertise. We recommend doing your due diligence by completing a phone interview first. Some good questions to ask when interviewing a Board-Certified Lactation Consultant would be:
- Have you helped intended parents induce lactation and breastfeed when they did not give birth, either through surrogacy or adoption? How many cases? How successful were they? Have you helped trans or non-binary conforming individuals with induced lactation?
- What is your comfort level and experience level with family building through surrogacy? **This is more of a question to gage their sensitivity. Even in 2018, not all health care providers are comfortable or familiar with gestational surrogacy, so this might be something to consider!**
- What are your qualifications and number years of experience?
- How does your billing work? Do you participate in-network with any health insurance carriers? ***Please check your health insurance carrier to determine their covered services. It may cover a hospital grade pump and lactation consultant support. ***
- Do you see patients in their homes? In your office? Do you complete prenatal consults?
3. The experience of breastfeeding through Supplemental Nursing Systems
For many intended parents, it’s not solely about milk production – It’s about the beauty and bonding of the breastfeeding experience. There is the option to use a Supplemental Nursing System to breastfeed your baby, even if you are producing very little or no breastmilk of your own. A skilled Lactation Consultant can help you to explore this option.
Both systems have their pros and cons, however, the Lactaid option seems to be ideal for long term use, based on ease of use, convenience, and discretion.
4. Additional Resources
There are also resources that you can explore online and in publications. Please note that a lot of the resources are marketed to adoptive mothers, however the protocols, information, and resources remain applicable for surrogacy as well.
- International Breastfeeding Journal: “Knowledge and practice of induction of lactation in trans women among professionals working in trans health”
- Them.us – “Yes, Trans Women Can Breastfeed — Here’s How“
- Alyssa Schnell, formerly called Sweet Pea Breastfeeding: By far, the most comprehensive guide online! They offer great, informational Podcasts, online classes, in-person classes (select cities), and a free starter guide. www.alyssaschnellibclc.com
- Ask Lenore: Lenore Goldfarb, PhD, CCC, IBCLC, ALC is a lactation educator and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), and researcher. She is co-author of the Newman-Goldfarb protocols for Induced Lactation: The Guide for Maximizing Milk Supply with Dr. Jack Newman.
- Kelly Mom: This website was developed to provide evidence-based information on breastfeeding and parenting. They offer a very comprehensive resource list: www.kellymom.com/ages/adopt-relactate/relactation-resources/
1. Breastfeeding Without Birthing: A Breastfeeding Guide for Mothers through Adoption, Surrogacy, and Other Special Circumstances by Alyssa Schnell
2. Wambach K, Riordan J. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, 5th ed. Boston and London: Jones and Bartlett, 2015.
3. Lawrence R, Lawrence R. Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession, 8th ed. Atlanta, GA: Elsevier, 2015.
4. Mohrbacher N. Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple. Amarillo, Texas: Hale Publishing, 2010: 603-614.
5. Wiessinger D, West D, Pitman, T. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 8th revised ed. New York: Ballantine Books, 2010.
6. Australian Breastfeeding Association. Relactation and Adoptive Breastfeeding. East Malvern, Victoria: Australian Breastfeeding Association; 2004 April.
7. Newman J, Pitman T. The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers. Harmony; 2006.
8. Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development. Relactation: A review of experience and recommendations for practice (WHO/CHS/CAH/98.14). Geneva: World Health Organization, 1998.
9. Programme for Nutrition Policy, Infant Feeding and Food Security. Infant Feeding in Emergencies [Large PDF file] (EU/ICP/LVNG 01 02 08). Geneva: World Health Organization, 1997.
1. Breastfeeding Outside the Box: There are numerous podcast episodes on the different strategies and discussions surrounding inducing lactation. New episodes are not currently being recorded.
The Breastfeeding Center of Greater Washington: http://breastfeedingcenter.org/ offers one-on-one consultations (including before baby is born) and often will come to your home! All their lactation consultants are phenomenal. Their website offers a lot of information. While the written material is directed towards adoptive parents, the information still applies to Intended Parents: http://breastfeedingcenter.org/adoptive-parents-resources/
Your CFC Case Manager is here to support you as you explore all your options!
Written by Lauren Swyers, LCSW & CFC Case Manager (pictured below)