Today I am chatting with Tino (not her real name) about her unusual journey to motherhood, how she managed to bring in a milk supply for her baby born through a surrogate and how she managed to breastfeed her daughter after that. Her daughter is now 7 months old.
Katinka: Thank you so much for agreeing to talk to me today and to share your interesting story! Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family. Where are you from, how many kids do you have? How old are they?
Katinka: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
Tino: If this were a job interview, I would be quick to tell you that I have a Master’s degree in education and that, I chose this field of study because someone falsely told me that it was the quickest way to get rich 😂. On a personal level, the question is rather difficult as it brings to mind the agony of two failed pregnancies, with one being a stillbirth at 7 months. That said, it is only a small part of who I am and it is all in my past. Today, I am thrilled to say that I am a mother to a beautiful girl and have a wonderful and supportive husband.
Katinka: When did you first hear about inducing lactation, the process of bringing in milk without being pregnant?
Tino: In 2019 can you believe? I did not even know there was such a thing as induced lactation.
Katinka: What made you feel this as an option for your family?
Tino: I had my daughter through surrogacy. When my husband and I decided to go this route, we had planned to buy loads of formula until the doctor told me that it was very possible to breastfeed. My jaw dropped!
Katinka: How did your husband and your family feel about it?
Tino: It was as much of a surprise to them as it was to me that this was even a possibility. There was much joy and celebration as everyone wanted me to have the experience of breastfeeding and creating that special bond with my baby especially as I did not carry her myself.
Katinka: Were you the first to induce lactation in your family, friends?
Katinka: How did your friends and family react to you bringing in milk?
Tino: Covid 19 has not allowed all my family and friends to see me breastfeed. We have kept to ourselves a lot (as most people have) but those who have seen me breastfeed have been utterly amazed. My cousin refused to believe there was milk coming out until I squeezed it out 😂. It has been an eye opening experience for my friends and family.
Katinka: You used a protocol that includes hormones and medication. What was your experience during the treatment and did you experience any side effects?
Tino: My biggest worry was side effects because I suffer from hypertension. I started at the lowest dose suggested and then began to increase as recommended. As soon as my dosage went up, I suffered from severe headaches. After 5 or 6 days of this, I went back to the low dosage and the headache was gone. Other than that and a bit of weight gain, I did not find the process difficult at all. My blood pressure remained manageable throughout the process.
Katinka: In order to induce lactation, you need to pump before the baby is born. What was the main challenge in pumping and how did you manage pumping and working at this time? Did you have a lot of support?
Tino: Balancing pumping and work hours was challenging for me. I had to pump between 6 and 8 times a day. I could not do this at work and so had to go home between sessions. It was hectic. I am lucky that I live very near to my work place otherwise it would have been impossible to fit in that many pumping sessions a day. Everyone at work knew that I had a baby on the way and was pumping. I got a lot of encouragement and support. It meant a lot.
Katinka: Did you see your newborn straight away after the birth? When did you first breastfeed her?
Tino: My husband and I were in the delivery room and we held our baby as soon as she was born. Our surrogate had no contact with the baby. This is what our arrangement was from the start. I breastfed her the day she was born.
Katinka: How was this experience for you?
Tino: Nerve wrecking 😂. I did not know how to feed the baby. Pumping is way different from feeding a child. Even worse was the fact that the baby did not know how to nurse. I wanted to cry.
Katinka: Did you receive any support from the healthcare team?
Tino: Yes I did. One nurse was like, “you have known for 9 months you were having a child. Did you not think to learn how to actually feed a baby” 😂.
Katinka: How do you handle breastfeeding in public? Is it an option at all?
Tino: It was so natural for me. I just breastfed without even thinking about it.
Katinka: After your baby was born, did you also supplement with formula?
Tino: Not straight away no. But as she grew older, I felt my supply was failing to meet her needs. I then started giving small amounts of formula and she has continued to take these small amounts of formula. On some days, she just plain refuses the formula and just breastfeeds.
Katinka: How did your friends and family react to seeing you breastfeeding after not having been pregnant?
Tino: Because I talked about it before my baby was born, there were no surprises. Everyone knew it would happen.
Katinka: What would you wish people to know to help mothers who want to breastfeed their surrogate or adopted baby?
Tino: That it is very possible to breastfeed and it is a rewarding experience. The benefits to mom and baby are numerous and it really is a great feeling to know that your baby will get all the nutrients that come from breastmilk.
Katinka: Thank you so much Tino for speaking about this experience, you are a true inspiration!
If you are interested in Inducing Lactation for your adopted baby, baby born through surrogacy or after you had weaned your baby and you would like to resume breastfeeding, please get in touch with me for a consult: wa.me/263784921717.