MicroblogMondays: Breast Milk

Today is my birthday.  The fact that we are finally expecting our two babies makes this year’s birthday super special.

But, this is not what I want to talk about.  Today, I want to talk about breast milk.

One of the topics that was discussed during our interviews with surrogates was pumping breast milk for the babies.  At the time, Annie said yes to pumping, although she has never pumped before for her children and breastfeeding wasn’t that successful for her.  She said she would try her best to pump and was also quite insistent on me trying to induce lactation.

I did my research on induced lactation and talked to my friend who used a surrogate and nursed her twins for two months following induced lactation.  After reading a book on this topic and serious consideration, I made a decision not to breastfeed.  I believe that I will bond with my babies without nursing them and feel that this is the right path for me.  It is a very personal decision that one has to make for themselves.  I am aware that this is a very sensitive topic.  Recently I have received my fair share of mean comments regarding my surrogacy journey so I want to make it clear that this is my decision to make and I would appreciate readers to keep their negative comments or opinions to themselves.

Throughout the pregnancy, it had been my understanding that Annie would not breastfeed the twins at birth but she’d pump for them as long as she could.  After our 28 week ultrasound last week, she wanted to chat with me on the phone about breast milk.  One night last week we finally found the time to do so.  She told me that after praying about it for the last two months, she decided not to pump for the twins.  Given how difficult this pregnancy has been for her, she would like to heal as soon as possible after birth and go back to being a mom to her kids.  Since she has never pumped before, the thought of pumping every few hours, storing the milk, packing, and mailing it sounds very daunting to her.  She had felt very guilty about it because she wanted to do what is the best for the twins, but she also needed to do what is best for her and her family as well.

My initial reaction was disappointment because this new development wasn’t what I expected.  At the same time, I could understand where she was coming from.  I know that breastfeeding is not easy.  Many women live a guilt ridden life because of difficulty breastfeeding their children.  Pumping for someone else’s babies is a lot of work and can be stressful.  I know some people take the position that breast is best.  Breast milk is wonderful.  But I also believe that it’s perfectly good to give our babies formula.  I don’t want me or Annie to feel guilty for not being able to provide breast milk for the babies.  After my initial disappointment, I feel fine about it now.  I did request for Annie to pump or hand-express colostrum after birth.  She said that she would do whatever we ask her to do during her stay in the hospital.  She mentioned that a fellow surrogate in her support group offered to pump for us.  I know that I have to be careful with unscreened donor breast milk so I need to do more research on that.

I wrote Dr. E about the situation and asked how many days Annie should try to give us colostrum.  Dr. E said if it were her, she’d skip the colostrum and get skin to skin with the babies and bottle-feed them.   She said that she bottle fed two babies and breastfed two babies.  And to her, there was no difference whatsoever.  She didn’t want me to feel even an ounce of guilt at all.  She said that if we want, we could always buy from a bank.  She also has a local carrier who is 12 weeks pregnant now.  This carrier doesn’t want to pump for the family for personal reasons but she plans on donating her breast milk to a bank anyways.  Dr. E said that she could always ask this carrier to pump for us if we would like.   We would have to find an alternative way before this carrier gives birth to her surro-baby.  But it is an option for us.

So this is where we stand.  I will explore the possibility of getting breast milk from a bank or from a known or screened donor.  We will also try formula with the babies and see how they do.  I am glad that Annie told me this far in advance so I can get myself mentally ready for what to do when the twins are born.

Again, I know this is a controversial and sensitive topic that many feel strongly about.  So, I would appreciate your support for us as this is not the place to assert your position on this topic.  Kindness goes a long way and it is welcome here. 

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35 thoughts on “MicroblogMondays: Breast Milk

  1. I was someone who tried incredibly hard to breastfeed and after trying everything switched to formula. My son is healthy and perfect. I feel bad for people who try to shame others for FEEDING THEIR BABIES. It’s crazy. If you have the means to get breastmilk for a reliable source then that’s awesome, if you can’t and just do formula, totally great! Their nourishment compares very little to the love and nurturing you give them ❀ As long as their bellies are full, that's all the matters πŸ™‚

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  2. Your babies are so lucky to have a mother like you! You put so much thought and consideration in as a mom and as a friend to Annie as well. They are all lucky to have you. The most important thing for the babies to have is a happy, healthy and loving family. Which they will absolutely have.

    I can’t believe you are so close to holding them!!! I can’t wait!

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  3. This post really touched my heart, because I was in such a similar situation where I had many people judge my decision not to induce lactation – surprisingly nurses were the most judgemental and the odd friend.
    This was a personal decision for me and my family. In the end, neither Mr. MPB or I regret our decision to feed our son formula. Honestly, he’s growing perfectly and we are firm believers that fed is best. But, also, we found it a huge benefit that Little MPB wasn’t attached to just me – from day 1 he’d take a bottle from either Mr. MPB or I, which made life so much easier in large part because we could alternate nights. And I imagine with your twins, this will come in super handy! So, I say, do whatever is best for your family and remember in 20 years no one will care how you fed your kids as infants. πŸ™‚

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  4. Hey, you have my full support–every situation is unique and no one has the right to judge how a mother nourishes her children, so long as they their needs met. You know breastfeeding BG has been a big deal for me, and I think it is good for her. But I just want you to know that fully I support you. Pumping sucks and I don’t blame Annie for not wanting to do it and just wanting to focus on her recovery. Milk donation is a nice option. And formula feeding and skin-to-skin is also a good idea while you are in the hospital and focusing on bonding. XOXO

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  5. Controversy shmontoversy. I breastfed; I hope to do it again if all goes well with me. But like you say, breastfeeding doesn’t work for lots of people in lots of situations and that’s just the way it is. Personally I think it’s wonderful that we have options so that in the myriad of situations where our built in mammal feeding systems don’t work, babies can still be fed and thrive. You’ve researched and considered ALL the options, don’t let anyone bully you. As far as I can tell, the recent push for breastfeeding was a backlash against a movement where a whole generation was persuaded it was socially backward and unhealthy. At least, if you were part of a certain social class you heard those messages. That’s stupid too and doesn’t hold up to basic logic. Mothers have the right to solid information and support and to feed their babies whatever way is best in our imperfect world with imperfect bodies.

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    • Talking with my mother and grandmother, you’re right about the generation thing. My grandmother had zero breastfeeding support and was told to use formula from Day 1. My mom and aunt went with the backlash and breastfed despite their mother having not a clue how to advise or help.

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        • Wow. I’m sorry. It WAS terrible and painful but only at first. I definitely see why women give up and it was only a mixture of sheer determination and a little stupidity that made me stick it out. I bought into the “breast is best” bit but now I wholeheartedly agree with “fed is best”.

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      • Agreed– my mom used formula because she said that was considered what “well off” people did and the best choice for baby. I do think there’s science behind the benefits of breastfeeding, but it’s also susceptible (like anything else) to trends, fads, politics, etc.

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  6. I don’t have kids but I’ve never understood why mothers are castigated for not breastfeeding, as they often are in the UK. I agree that as long as the babies are loved and cared for, it doesn’t matter. My mother bottle-fed me because she was unable to breastfeed, and I’ve never given it a nano-second’s thought.

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  7. I can fully understand why Annie is hesitant to pump. I have to admit to having some fears of breastfeeding myself… mostly because I’ve tried for so long to get my body to do what it is meant to and there is a part of me that is tired of relying on my body and relishes the thought of just being completely autonomous in my own body. This is completely different to Annie’s story but I understand the desire to get back to normality and to be freed of any obligation when it comes to her body. Of course I also understand your disappointment and admire your Grace in moving through it.

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  8. Happy birthday!

    I believe a fed baby is the best. You’ve done your research (in all areas of this journey) and I’m sorry to hear you are receiving mean comments. That’s just not what you need and I hope you’re ignoring them and getting lots of support from those people who love and respect you.

    Wishing you all the best on these last few weeks before your babies are in your arms!

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  9. You, AND Annie, do what is best for each of you. With clean water and high quality formula available in the US the children will be fine. Any stimulation of the breast post birth will make ending pumping harder. No opinion on what either of you choose. Love the babies is what counts. IGNORE CRITICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No response is needed.

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  10. Oh wow! I’m an IP and doing the same thing. Whether you’re getting pumped milk or formula-feeding, you’re feeding the baby with a bottle, and that’s already going to be opening up to A LOT of criticism (I’m ready for that!). Due to medication I’m on, I am not even going to TRY to induce lactation – the baby won’t be growing in MY UTERUS, so he/she will NOT have been exposed to the medication I take. I don’t want to risk it.

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  11. If I was due closer to your babies’ due date, I’d try to pump and send you milk. BUT, honestly, I believe your babies will be just as happy and healthy on formula. There are so many good formula options nowadays! You can even buy organic if that’s your thing. The bottom line is, I don’t doubt for one moment that you and Bob will be wonderful parents and that your children will be happy and safe. Please don’t feel bad about formula feeding because it’s going to be just fine!! πŸ™‚

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  12. Happy birthday to you! Oh, judgy comments. I’m so sorry you’re receiving those. Everyone has an opinion, I guess. I am so glad that Dr. E gave you that information, and is encouraging you to not feel an ounce of guilt. When we were first planning to adopt, I looked into inducing lactation, and decided not to do it or donor milk, to the consternation of some rather rabid lactation fans (including people in my family). You can absolutely bond with your twins with skin to skin contact and formula bottle feeding. And if you choose to do donor breast milk, that’s a fine option, too that friends of mine have done. Honestly, you line up all of the kids I know and you can’t tell at all who had breastfeeding vs breast milk vs formula feeding, you can just tell who’s been very loved by their parents and had their needs met (which, happily, is all of them!). I’m sorry it was a disappointment to have Annie decide not to pump, but I’m sure you will figure out the options that work for you and your family and everyone else should just support whatever well-thought-out decision you make instead of giving you grief. πŸ™‚

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  13. Our daughter was born via GC and so were my friend’s twins. My friend spent considerable time researching the best formula and for both her and I that was Holle Formula! Our daughter is now 2 and we just stopped the formula but it was so wonderful.

    Here’s where we ordered it from just in case you’re interested: https://www.violey.com/en/holle_m_250.html?filter_id=372

    We live in Canada so in the US you might have even more options in terms of where to order from. I think other than Holle, Hipp is also very good!!

    So happy for you that your twins are on the way. I’ve been silently rooting for you for a long time!!

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  14. Sorry you’ve gotten so much judgement – that’s awful. It sounds like you’ve done a lot of thinking about what will work best for your family. My older daughter was largely formula fed for a variety of reasons and the couple of times people made nasty comments about it have stuck with me, so I can definitely see where you’re coming from. It stings, for sure. Hopefully people are more supportive and helpful as you continue to move through this process.

    (And happy birthday!)

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  15. I am always surprised that people can feel judgemental about your own decisions, and what is right for you and your babies. I’m also aware of many people who have been judged because they haven’t breastfed, for whatever reason. People get so militant, when it achieves so little, and it is much kinder just to offer support and encouragement for whatever path you follow. Wishing you well.

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  16. I wish you didn’t have to be so defensive about it but I know why. There are some people who think that motherhood is an open invitation to interject their beliefs, and they let some venom drip into that breastmilk while they do it. I breastfed my twins and it certainly had its ups and downs. I was sleep deprivation-induced crazy and I was going to breastfeed if it killed me. My weight dropped so low that for a while I thought it might. On top of being always sleepy, I was always tired and hungry and thirsty. Having twins is hard enough, quite honestly.
    There’s a great meme I’ve seen a few times. It’s something like: Breastfeeding or bottle feeding, it doesn’t matter because eventually they’re going to eat stale French fries off the van floor. Just keep that in mind when holier than thou mothers come by.

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  17. Please don’t feel guilty about the lack of breastfeeding. For many various reasons it is often not an option and the formula fed babies are perfectly healthy. The donated breast milk sounds like an interesting option which you could look into and see whether it might work out, maybe just for the first few weeks even. But whatever you decide will be fine! I’m sorry to hear you’ve had some judgemental comments in the past, that’s awful.

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  18. I’ve always believed that FED is best. πŸ™‚ My one sister breast fed her son, my other sister formula fed her two sons – all three are healthy, smart, rambunctious, happy boys who still eat dirt, say rude things, and get into mischief just the same. My sister who did not breastfeed was made to feel terribly guilty…my sister who did breastfeed was shamed for nursing in public. There is no way to win – just do what it is right for you and your sweet babes….fed is always best. πŸ™‚ Also, Happy Birthday to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I agree with your doctor. Skin to skin and formula. As long as your babies are fed and healthy is all that matters. I chose not to breastfeed my first one due to misinformation received about it and gave formula from day one. My second, I tried to breastfeed but didn’t produce enough to keep up so we went with formula. Both of my boys are strong and healthy and that is all that matters. Don’t drive yourself crazy here, it’s really not worth the stress. Fed and healthy is all you need to aim for here. There is no reason to feel any shame or guilt at all in this.

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  20. Yep…I get this….like we haven’t already been through enough 😦 I didn’t feel right inducing lactation…I was so overwhelmed as it was…and after doing a LOT of research, I found wonderful formula (Holle, like someone above stated…I get it shipped form Germany) and I could not be happier. My little guy is SO healthy and has only been a little sick ONCE! And he got over it pretty quickly. I also add, liquid Vit D and probiotics too. And please ignore the nasty comments. I’ve realized those people have sad lives and want to bring others down. You are soooooo close to holding your little miracles….finally your time Isabelle!!! Can’t wait to see you as a Mom soon!!!!! And Happy belated Birthday my friend! xoxo

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  21. There are already so many smart, supportive comments above– I totally agree! I am an adoptive mom, so in a different situation, but facing similar challenges. I didn’t have a lot of angst over it (one of the few things!) and we chose formula. I’ve honestly never doubted the decision.

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  22. Fed is best IMO. A is adopted and a had breast reduction surgery last summer so I didn’t even try to induce lactation. She’s had formula this whole time and is a very healthy little girl. Don’t feel one ounce of guilt if formula is the route you choose!

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