Managing Breastmilk Production After a Surrogate Delivery

Rosalinda Amaya is a mother of two and a patient care technician at a local hospital in Santa Barbara, California. Two years ago, she carried her first surrogate baby for a couple from South Korea. Today, she’s carrying her second for a California family. She’s always had a calling to be a surrogate mother; beginning in high school, she knew given the opportunity, she’d be a surrogate.

Today, Rosalinda shares her postpartum experience as a surrogate mother.
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My postpartum experience as a surrogate was definitely different from when I had my keepers. The recovery process felt more intense, in particular the cramping and the pain with my breasts as milk was trying to come in, but I was not going to pump or breastfeed. I would’ve been okay with pumping for my first surrogacy, but of course, I didn’t know what to expect as my children were mainly breastfed for over the first year of their life (over 2 years with my first). 

The intended parents or IP’s for this surrogacy were international, they lived in South Korea, and aside from wanting colostrum for the first day, they didn’t want to deal with the hassle of shipping breastmilk the first few weeks while they waited for the baby’s birth certificate to be able to fly back home.

When my breasts started feeling hard and becoming engorged a few days after birth, I was constantly icing them and avoided pumping or expressing as I didn’t want my body to start trying to produce even more milk. I do remember using a manual pump on one or two occasions, only to relieve the pressure, as I was in pain and extremely uncomfortable. I remember being pretty miserable when it came to my breasts for about a week or a week and a half, and then it started becoming more manageable and the hardness and lumps started to disappear.

One thing I remember saying at the time was that I believed that I was feeling everything more intensely because I did not have a newborn at home keeping me distracted the whole time. During birth, I had a tear and had to get internal stitches. This was my third time getting stitches, so it did not feel any worse than before. The uterine cramping felt a lot more intense in the first week after birth, even more intense than when I had my first child.

By the time I was four weeks postpartum, I was ready to go back to work. I think under normal circumstances, I would have waited at least 6 weeks to return to work, but I did give birth at the beginning of Covid, and the IPs had asked me to be off of work two months before my due date. I just wanted to get out of the house and socialize with others outside of my home. I work in healthcare (direct patient care) so my place of employment never shut down nor did we get reduced hours or have the chance to work from home.

I am now 16 weeks pregnant with my second surrogate baby; this time I do believe I will be pumping for several weeks postpartum, so I can’t wait to see how this next postpartum experience is different from my last. This time around, my IPs live in California, maybe two hours away from where I live, and they have expressed an interest in receiving breast milk for the first 4-6 weeks after the baby is born. Of course, this isn’t a long time and my milk will barely be established in that time frame, so I am thinking of possibly continuing to pump after that time frame and either donating the milk to local moms, which I’ve done when I had my own children, as I am an overproducer or selling it on websites such as onlythebreast.com.