Babies born to surrogate mothers need not be deprived of breast milk. Medicine has a way to compensate.

Becoming a mother is one of the greatest experiences of a woman’s life. While a child brings great happiness, it also brings a number of responsibilities for the new mother, breastfeeding being the foremost.

In addition to the emotional benefits, breastfeeding has a range of other benefits. It plays a crucial role in the well being of both mother and child.

Induced lactation

For those who have a normal delivery, breastfeeding is a natural phenomenon. With surrogacy gaining ground, this first and most important element of responsible parenting need not be missed. Certain medications called Galactogogues help initiate and maintain adequate milk production. Considering the importance of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of a child’s life, doctors are beginning to recommend induced lactation to women who opt for a child through surrogacy. The non-biological mother can be physically prepared to breastfeed her baby by breast stimulation with the help of medicines.

The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continued breastfeeding along with appropriate type and amount of complementary foods until the child turns two. Breastfeeding continues to benefit a child’s overall health and development after the first year.

For the first six months breast milk answers all the nutritional demands of a baby. It has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein required for adequate growth and development. With time breast milk also changes according to a baby’s needs. It becomes thinner over time but is just as full of the essential nutrients and antibodies a baby requires.

First immunisation

Breast milk is also the baby’s ‘first immunisation’. Colostrum, secreted by the mother’s mammary glands a few days before and after childbirth, contains many essential antibodies that confer immunity. Overall, breast milk protects the baby from diarrhoea, ear infections, chest infection and other conditions.

Evidence from various studies also suggests that there is a strong correlation between breastfeeding and cognitive development. Recent research supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the U.S. suggests that breast milk is enriched with fatty acids that help the brain develop. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Arachidonic Acid (AA) are specific fatty acids found in breast milk, which are known to be crucial to the development of an infant’s cognitive skills.

Other than physical benefits, breastfeeding also facilitates emotional bonding between a mother and her child. This is even more important in surrogacy, as the baby has not been reared in the mother’s womb. Breast feeding helps an infant develop feelings of security and comfort and also helps him/her to relate positively to the mother, thereby facilitating good emotional and cognitive development. There is no reason children not born naturally to their mothers should be deprived of breastfeeding, given its benefits.