Newborn Feeding If You Can’t Breastfeed


Becoming a parent can happen in many ways, and surrogacy offers a unique experience to anyone that wants to bring a new life into this world. Like any mother who physically carries a child, my clients want to prepare for the feeding process. Hormones don’t change the same way when a surrogate carries the child, and there may be some concerns over how you can still give your baby the best chance of healthy nutrition. Formula is one solution, but the advancements in science have created many new opportunities to make this bonding time special.

A visit to a doctor to help stimulate milk production isn’t unheard of, and that may be all you need to deliver the nutrients that naturally comes from breast milk. Research shows that the natural antibodies produced can help with diarrhea, breathing difficulty, ear infections, and even asthma. However, that is hardly the only option to keep a baby fed and healthy.

As important as nursing is, not all mothers can breastfeed, regardless of whether the mother births the child themselves or with a surrogate. This group can include individuals who foster a child, adopt a child, or experience health problems. Breastfeeding alternatives could make a world of difference for new parents, especially when they understand how active the feeding schedule can actually be.

Newborn feeding schedule

Newborns’ stomachs are too small to hold a lot of breastmilk, and they need to eat small amounts more frequently. You need to breastfeed them on demand for the first six to eight weeks. They may nurse eight to 12 times a day.

Newborn feeding schedule

As they get older, their stomachs can hold more nutrients, though they are not ready for baby food quite yet. They begin to drink more during one feeding and eat less frequently. This is around when the baby is six to eight weeks. Babies fed breastmilk should continue to feed on demand. Formula fed babies may begin to sleep for longer stretches at night.

Steady breastfeeding schedule example for the first six months

  • The first 24 hours: ½ ounce colostrum at a time, consistent feeding on-demand (At least every two hours during the day, and every two hours at night)
  • 0-4 weeks: 2 to 3 ounces per feeding, consistent feeding on-demand (At least every two to three hours during the day, and three to four hours at night)
  • 1-6 months: 4 to 5 ounces per session, feeding about 3 to 5 times in a day, and once or twice during the night


  1. Cradle your baby in the bend of your elbow, with your other hand holding their back.
  2. Get them to latch onto the nipple. Make sure a lot of breast tissue around the nipple in their mouth.
  3. Listen to the baby’s suckling for a regular pattern. If they seem not to be getting enough air, move them closer to your body. This will tilt their head back so that the nostrils can clear to for breathing.
  4. If the baby needs a break, give it to them, and then offer them the breast to see if they want more.

Newborn Bottle-feeding schedule example

  • The first 24 hours: ½ to 1 once per feeding at a time, occurs every 3 to 4 hours at all times of day.
  • 0-4 weeks: 2 to three ounces per feeding, occurs every 3 to 4 hours at all times of day.
  • 1-6 months: 4 ounces per feeding, occurs every 4 hours at all times of day.
  • Over 6 months: 6 to 8 ounces per feeding, occurs every 4 to five hours during the daytime.

Instructions for bottle-feeding

  1. Hold your baby in an upright position.
  2. Put the bottle in the mouth at a 45-degree angle.
  3. If the bottle is too upright, too much formula will drip from the nipple into the baby’s mouth. If the nipple is too far down, more air will get into the nipple and the baby will ingest it.
  4. Make sure that the milk fills the bottle nipple.
  5. If the baby falls asleep, gently wake them. You can move the nipple into their mouth gently, rub them gently, or massage their feet.
  6. Burp your baby in the middle and end of the feeding. Put your baby over your shoulder and gently pat and rub the back in a circular motion.

Solutions to feed a baby when you can’t breastfeed

There are many benefits associated with breastfeeding a baby. This includes reducing the risk of disease, increasing intelligence, and helping children maintain a healthy weight.

It is also cost-effective. Recent research by UNICEF suggests that if moms breastfeed, they save money that would have been spent on formula, treating ear infections and gastrointestinal illnesses in babies, as well as breast cancer treatments.

That’s why many mothers look for solutions to breastfeed their babies. Here are some options:

Induced lactation

Induced lactation is the triggering of milk production for women who have never been pregnant before. Induced lactation is performed with mechanical stimulation, which encourages mammary glands to develop. The time needed to produce enough milk varies from a few days to several weeks. The quantity of milk produced also varies from one woman to another.

If you are trying to stimulate milk production, start pumping for induced lactation at least two months in advance. In some cases, such as when a baby is born via surrogacy, a doctor will give you medications to trigger milk production (called “galactagogues”).

Induced lactation


  1. Gently massage your breast and the areola.
  2. Use a breast pump to stimulate milk production 8 to 14 times a day.
  3. Make sure to do one stimulation session at night.
  4. Use a hospital-grade breast pump


  • It is healthy for the baby
  • It encourages a strong bond between the baby and mother


  • The mother might not produce enough milk
  • It might take several weeks or months to produce enough milk for the baby


Relactation is a term used when you are resuming breastfeeding of a baby. Many mothers choose to re-lactate if they realized that they stopped breastfeeding too soon, if they were separated from their babies for some time, or if they adopted a baby after having their own.


  1. Use a grade pump to express the milk, at least 8 times in 24 hours
  2. Pump the milk at least once a night, since that’s when milk stimulation hormones are highest
  3. Continue pumping for several weeks even if you don’t produce milk immediately
  4. Hold your baby close to your body, ensuring you have skin-to-skin contact.
  5. Encourage the baby to breastfeed.


  • Breast milk has a lot of health benefits
  • It is convenient for the mother to breastfeed
  • You will also get to bond with the baby


  • You might not produce enough milk
  • It might take several weeks before you begin producing the milk

Surrogate’s breastmilk

Some mothers who have had a baby via surrogate choose to breastfeed the baby or have the surrogate do it.

This is particularly important in the beginning because Colostrum is rich in nutrients. Many surrogates are open to pumping breast milk in the weeks following the birth. Breast milk can be fed by bottle or through a supplemental nursing system (SNS). A supplemental nursing system is a small tube taped to the breast that supplies breastmilk from a container. Baby still nurses from the breast, but the milk is supplied by the SNS.


  • It offers the health benefits of breast milk
  • It can be less expensive than purchasing formula


  • Surrogates are typically compensated for their pumping efforts.
  • Supply is determined by the surrogate and she may decide to not pump

Donated breastmilk

Donated breast milk is commonly given to babies who have been admitted to the hospital. Research has shown that when they take the breast milk they get better quicker.

Some doctors recommend it for mothers who might not be able to breastfeed due to medical problems, which is why they use it while recovering. Then, they can resume breastfeeding when they get better.



  • It’s easily digestible for newborns
  • It helps sick infants recover faster


  • Some mothers feel insecure when using someone else’s milk to feed their baby.
  • Not easy to acquire


Whether the baby is fed pumped breastmilk or formula, here are some feeding tips: hold the baby upright, fill the nipple with milk so that the baby doesn’t ingest air, put the nipple in the baby’s mouth, let the baby suckle for about 15 minutes.


  • You’ll know how much milk the baby is taking
  • Family members can help feed the baby


  • May cause nipple confusion if the baby is bottle feeding and breastfeeding
  • There are also several alternatives to bottle-feeding, including cup feeding and feeding by syringe.

Syringe feeding

When the mother is not able to breastfeed the baby, they can also feed them with a syringe. This works particularly well with colostrum, which is harder to express by pump.

Draw breast milk into a sterile syringe. Place your baby in your lap in an upright position. Put the syringe in the baby’s mouth and slowly push the milk in the baby’s mouth as they suck. This way it’s easier to control how much milk they are getting. You can get the feeding syringes at the hospital, pharmacy or through online retailers like Amazon.

Supplemental nursing system

Using a supplemental nursing system is an effective way for the baby to latch on the breast while they are still getting the feeding volume they need. It is particularly useful to stimulate milk production of mothers who are not getting any milk yet. When they suck, they will begin to get the milk from the supplemental system, just like it was coming from the breast.

Baby via surrogacy


  1. Put the expressed breast milk in the supplemental nursing system and screw the top on.
  2. Attach it to your shirt, preferably higher than the breast.
  3. Fasten the tubing to your breast with medical tape (you may find that paper tape is more gentle) and latch your baby on.


If for some reason you are not able to breastfeed, there no reason to get stressed. There are so many alternatives that you can explore and lots of great support in our area. The City of Philadelphia even provides one-on-one support through its local health programs.