By MUSSEN, Deidre
THREE INFERTILE women have stunned New Zealand’s maternity sector by breastfeeding their babies despite never giving birth.
One mum has fully breastfed her baby daughter since her surrogate gave birth 17 weeks ago, a second is partially breastfeeding her adopted baby and a third has induced lactation in preparation for her surrogate baby’s birth.
“When my body has let me down for so many years and now it’s able to give life and health to this little girl, it’s pretty incredible really,” says Upper Hutt first-time mum Jacqui Lucas.
Their private lactation consultant, Cheryl Ganly-Lewis of Upper Hutt, said her colleagues were amazed to hear about the three lower North Island women’s cases – all first-time mothers – at a breastfeeding conference in March.
She could find no records of cases in New Zealand when the first woman came to her for help.
She had to turn to the internet, where she discovered a Canadian programme using medications and regularly expressing milk.
It involves taking domperidone, an anti-nausea drug with a side effect of stimulating breast milk production, and progesterone, an oral contraceptive that simulates pregnancy.
The women must also express milk using a breast pump about eight times a day for up to six months before the baby is due, including once at night. All expressed milk is frozen to supplement feeds later if needed. Expressing continues between breastfeeds a few times a day to ensure good supply.
Ganly-Lewis knows of a fourth woman, who has given birth to two babies previously but has just started breastfeeding her third child, born to a surrogate in Auckland about a week ago.
Lucas, 39, says she had never heard of inducing lactation but asked her midwife if she could breastfeed the baby her surrogate, a close work friend, was expecting.
It’s a huge commitment but Lucas was determined.
“If Cheryl had told me I had to express 15 times a day, I would have.”
She and her husband, Jason Foster, childhood sweethearts together for 21 years, have spent the past seven desperately trying to have a family, including four IVF cycles.
“We had got to the stage we had given up because it was too hard emotionally.
“Then out of the blue, my friend offered to be a surrogate.”
She was motivated to breastfeed to improve bonding rather than to meet her baby’s nutritional needs.
Her eyes well with tears as she describes the moment she first fed her newborn daughter, Lily Marie Foster.
“She was popped on my stomach and her head bobbed around a bit and then she latched straight on.
“It was only about 10 minutes after she was born.”
They are so deeply grateful for their surrogate’s gift of life.
And breastfeeding her baby has made the experience even more special.
“When that little girl looks up at me while feeding and smiles, she melts my heart.”
While plenty of people are incredulous at her ability to breastfeed, she downplays the effort it takes.
“It’s just something I have to do because I’m her mum. I have to give her the best start in life.”
(c) 2008 Sunday Star – Times; Wellington, New Zealand. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.