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Breastfeeding without the pregnancy
Breastfeeding the surrogate's baby
Breastfeeding without giving birth.
The dream of Charlene and Rick Briones was not unheard of for the average person planning for a family. To have a healthy pregnancy, deliver a healthy baby, and be successful with breastfeeding. Then infertility reality began shattering their dreams. After all the testing and evaluation of choices, it was a surrogate to carry twins conceived with Rick's sperm.
Dream #1 is gone, #2 is so far a reality, a healthy pregnancy, and time to work on #3, successful breastfeeding. After much research, Charlene, a lawyer, knew she wanted her babies to have her breastmilk. She was deprived of the mothering experience of being pregnant, but she wanted to do the next best thing, breastfeeding. Her research had showed the dramatic health benefits of breastmilk over formula, and she wanted her children to have all those advantages. The risks of giving formula were well documented, more ear infections, respiratory illnesses (colds, flu, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia), diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, allergies, diabetes, and lower scores on IQ testing among other health issues.
With the blessings from her OB doctor, she contacted a lactation counselor, Ellen Steinberg 7 months into the pregnancy. She began a regime called the Newton Induced Lactation protocol. Birth control pills were started by Charlene to stimulate breast tissue changes, and use of a breast pump to physically stimulate the breast tissue. The goal, by 40 weeks, a term pregnancy, for her to be producing breast milk for the twins. 6 weeks before the anticipated birth the birth control pills were stopped and she began herbal treatments for breast milk production: Fenugreek, More Milk Plus and Goat's Rue. Other instructions were to drink 8 - 10 glasses of water daily, avoid caffeine and eat oatmeal. When she began pumping it was 8 - 12 times daily. Within a week she was expressing a small measurable amount at each session.
Unforeseen complications arise and the twins were delivered early at 32 - 33 weeks, 18 days after she started this process. By that time she was expressing about 8 -12 ozs daily, and she had a stockpile to use. At birth the twin girls weighed 3lbs 9oz and 4lbs 1oz. They were to spend 3 weeks in the NICU, and Charlene was with them constantly rocking them and breastfeeding them several times daily. The wonderful thing was between the stockpile of milk, and what Charlene continued to produce both babies consumed nothing but breast milk their entire stay in the NICU.
Not their real names, but Ellen Steinberg can be contacted at 818-345-4439
Rita Shertick RN, BSN