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  • Kristin Marsoli

A Short Guide for Surrogates: Shipping Breast Milk

Woman writing on a packed cardboard box

For some gestational surrogates, their surrogacy journey in Boston, San Francisco, New York, or elsewhere around the world doesn’t end once they give birth. In addition to continuing to grow their relationship with their intended parents (now parents!) and their new baby, some surrogates will go on to pump and ship breast milk to their intended parents for their new baby’s nourishment.

The decision to pump and ship breast milk to your intended parents after birth is one that’s made jointly during various stages of your journey. Surrogates are not required to pump and ship breast milk; however, many like to do so.

What if I don't want to pump and ship my breast milk?

If a surrogate knows that pumping and shipping breast milk is not something that she is interested in doing, she will be matched with intended parents who have aligned views. The decision to pump and ship breast milk to your intended parents after birth and how the process will work is one that's made jointly during the matching process.

Fun fact, surrogates receive compensation for pumping and shipping breast milk!

Pumping and shipping breast milk is not difficult at all! This short guide will inform you how to ship breast milk properly so that it arrives frozen to your intended parents.

What supplies are needed to ship breast milk?

First, the surrogate will need a breast pump. This can be a pump that she used from her own pregnancies or a new one. Supplies can be purchased at any big box store or at large online retailers.

Items you'll need for each shipment of breast milk:

  • Milk storage bags

  • Styrofoam cooler

  • Newspaper

  • Packing tape

  • Shipping box (large enough to fit your cooler)

  • Dry ice

What is the cost of shipping breast milk?

The average cost to ship breast milk is $400 to $500 per shipment; your intended parents cover these costs.

How do I ship my frozen breast milk?

  1. Place all of your pumped milk into the freezer in breast milk storage bags. Storing it between cookie sheets enables it to freeze flat, making packing easier. When filling the bags with milk, be sure to leave some room for the milk to expand as it freezes (about 6 oz per bag).

  2. Once the milk is frozen, layer frozen bags of milk in a single layer in the bottom of the cooler.

  3. Continue layering the frozen bags of milk, packing the cooler as tightly as possible. the less empty space, the colder the milk will stay.

  4. Be sure to leave room in the cooler for the dry ice. In a 22-quart cooler, you can place about 26-34 bags of milk. When all of the milk is packed, cover the breast milk with a newspaper.

  5. Place dry ice in a paper bag and place it on top of a newspaper. Cover dry ice with another layer of paper. Be careful with dry ice. It should be enclosed at all times and not loose in the cooler.

  6. Place the entire cooler into a shipping box. For a 22-qt. cooler, a 16"x16"x15" box works well.

  7. Tape box shut. Write 'PERISHABLE' or 'FROZEN' on all 4 sides as well as the top of the box. Call your shipping facility prior to arriving to ship your package to understand their guidelines for shipping packages with dry ice.

  8. Ship the box via UPS or FedEx. You'll have to provide your IPs' shipping information. Ship the package using PRIORITY OVERNIGHT to ensure your IPs receive it the following afternoon.

That's it; that is how to ship breast milk!

What can I do with unwanted breast milk?

If you have excess milk and would like to donate it to other babies without access to a parent's milk, read our related blog post about surrogate milk donations.

Do you have other questions about the surrogacy process or shipping breast milk? Check out our Surrogate FAQ page, where we answer our most asked questions from surrogates! You can learn more about becoming a surrogate with Circle or start your application now.


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