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Is it possible to bf if you haven't actually had your baby?

(33 Posts)
HeadFairy Tue 10-Nov-09 19:07:31

My friend is currently considering surrogacy after years of failed IVF. Any baby she has will be biologically hers.. after talking about it to her the other day I was wondering, is it possible to bf if you've not been pg? I imagine there are still milk ducts in breasts that haven't gone through pregnancy... and would the fact that the baby would be biologically theirs make it easier?

redtabby Tue 10-Nov-09 19:09:14

Yes it is possible, although not easy. Try looking up info on breastfeeding for adoptive mothers, and any of the breastfeeding advice books have chapters on adoptive mothers.

StealthPolarBear Tue 10-Nov-09 19:10:33

well I think lactation happens because of the pregnancy hormones so no, but I think some women do breastfeed in this situation, repeatedly putting the baby to the breast will eventually stimulate some milk. I'm almost certain she would have to mostly rely on formula or donated milk though (or would the surrogate be able to express some feeds?).
Of course, she can do skin to skin and all the other lovely newborn stuff....ahh I have an 8 week old and I'm broody again.
Good luck to your friend!

HeadFairy Tue 10-Nov-09 19:10:40

I will do if she decides to go ahead. I wondered if it might be a way to increase the bonding process between her and the baby.

TheProvincialLady Tue 10-Nov-09 19:10:42

It is possible yes. Mothers who are adopting babies sometimes do it. When I went to the BF clinic at the John Radcliffe there was a mother there in that position.

HeadFairy Tue 10-Nov-09 19:11:40

Stealth... do they ever artificially provide lactation hormones in these circumstances to help women bf surrogate babies?

StealthPolarBear Tue 10-Nov-09 19:11:48

wow TPL!

StealthPolarBear Tue 10-Nov-09 19:12:53

i have no idea, was wondering that myself!
I think though that even if she does breastfeed the milk won't be good enough on its own...not sure where I've got that from and would LOVE to learn I'm wrong

HeadFairy Tue 10-Nov-09 19:12:57

I was kind of inspired by the Norwegian (?) man who was trying to bf... I figured if it's even theoretically possible for men it must be more likely for women to be able to do it.

Tambajam Tue 10-Nov-09 19:13:23

Yes, She can breastfeed.
It's certainly easier to have the hormonal kickstart of pregnancy but adoptive mothers do breastfeed successfully with a lot of preparation and even in some cases exclusively.
By taking medication and pumping like a bandit it is usually possible to get a milk supply established.

More here

The fact the baby is biologically hers won't change the way her body responds to the lactation process but it may make her feel differently about it.
If she struggles to get a milk supply up and running (some do), she could still feed at the breast using a supplementary nursing system like the Medela SNS.

HeadFairy Tue 10-Nov-09 19:13:58

If she couldn't produce enough milk to nutritionally support her baby, it would still improve the bonding process wouldn't it?

StealthPolarBear Tue 10-Nov-09 19:14:14

not that that's a reason not to do it, of course - it would be good bonding.
OTOH I imagine it would be 1000x harder than straightforward bfing, and she might be better off enjoying the baby and feeding in a way as close to bf as possible, as I'm sure loads of ffers do with their newborns.

HeadFairy Tue 10-Nov-09 19:15:44

wow, that's amazing tamba, so is the idea that the woman starts pumping before the baby's born to stimulate milk production to start?

HeadFairy Tue 10-Nov-09 19:16:43

No absolutely Stealth... I just think it hadn't even occured to her that it was possible but knowing her, I'm sure she'd like to try.

StealthPolarBear Tue 10-Nov-09 19:17:34

yes, I feel I'm in the strange position of arguing against breastfeeding on this thread! Not my intention I promise.

HeadFairy Tue 10-Nov-09 19:19:20

I know what you mean though, I wouldn't say she should do it to the detriment of the developing relationship she'd have with the baby, because I imagine although she'd be a fabulous mother, I guess she's starting from a little further back down the track than women who've carried their babies for 9 months, and have started the bonding process before birth.

StealthPolarBear Tue 10-Nov-09 19:23:27

Do surrogates express at all in general? I know it's a lot to ask but then so's carrying someone else's baby for 9 months. If I was selfless enough to do that I'd like to think I'd express a few feeds a day for a couple of months. Suppose it's totally up to the surrogate though,

HeadFairy Tue 10-Nov-09 19:24:57

I have no idea, I suppose it's up to the surrogate and depends on the relationship you have with her. She might have to express some to relieve pressure anyway, so perhaps she'd be willing to keep it up for a few weeks anyway, just to give the baby a good start.

QueenOfFlamingEverything Tue 10-Nov-09 19:26:44

It's certainly possible smile

When I did my doula training, one of the women on the course had adopted a baby from India (she was living there at the time) and had managed to get to full BF. At the course (baby was 18mo by this time) she was expressing for her. She said she had used domperidone and a SNS until her supply built up.

QOD Tue 10-Nov-09 19:30:42

We looked into it, but usually the IM(intended mother)would have to supllement the milk - you can buy this kits where you stuick a little tube alongside the nipple from a milk bag so they get a proper flow. However, I was informed (and we are talking 11yrs ago) that if the IM hadn't actually ever got pregnant (even for a short time) it was quite unlikely to succeed sufficiently. My breast haven't "matured" with pregnancy (still means they droop with age damn it LOL)
As for the surrogate expressing, again, mostly not done, our GP advised our surrogate not to let the milk "come in" as it messes so much with them hormonally. Also, people like to have a step back from each other. Saying that, I know of a fair few surros who expressed but then donated to a milk bank - brilliant idea.
I went for the bottle, as, as I know the other formula mums out there will tell ya, we don't HAVE to breastfeed to bond.
(plus stimulating milek flow meants having your nipples sucked for 20 mins each every 4 hours or somesuch thing for a loooooooooooooon time.
Good luck to her though!

dawntigga Tue 10-Nov-09 19:30:42

Look up Dr Newman in Canada, I heard something on Womans Hour the other month about a woman who had a child by surragacy and went through hell for about 6 months so she can bf. After listening to that I haven't had the heart to feel sorry for myself bf'ing.


HeadFairy Tue 10-Nov-09 19:31:05

Oh so there are extra drugs you can take to help stimulate a milk supply. That's interesting. I wonder if, as the surrogate arrangement is a private arrangement between the two individuals, you could get domperidone on an NHS prescription.

What is an SNS? Is it like those hospital grade pumps you can hire (I had one when I had ds)

HeadFairy Tue 10-Nov-09 19:32:28

Thanks for the info QOD... very interesting.

HeadFairy Tue 10-Nov-09 19:33:54

Tigga, if she did go ahead and managed to bf I'd never ever again complain about the two hour feeds I had to do for ds, because at least he did usually go for four hours in between!

QueenOfFlamingEverything Tue 10-Nov-09 19:48:42

Supplemental Nursing System

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