What to Expect After Birth: Surrogates and Parents

As an intended parent or someone interested in becoming a surrogate, you likely have a million questions, concerns, and “what ifs” in your mind about the surrogacy process. Surrogacy has a high rate of success and gives those who are unable to conceive on their own an opportunity to make parenthood possible.

Between the matching process, medical screening, IVF injections, making a birth plan, and feeling the anticipation of delivery, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. However, you’ll also want to know what will happen on the day of the birth and afterward. We’re here to answer some frequently asked questions about the experience leading up to and after surrogacy labor and delivery.

What Happens When a Surrogate Gives Birth?

Intended parents and surrogates must collaboratively make some decisions before the baby arrives in creating a birth plan. The surrogacy birth plan and hospital stay are vital parts of the process, as they outline what will happen in the delivery room and afterward, including:

  • Who and how many people can be with you in the delivery room.
  • When they can come in.
  • Where they will stand.
  • How much communication and interaction will occur between the intended parent(s) and surrogate.
  • Will there be cord blood banking?
  • Will the surrogate want to pump breastmilk for the intended parents or other donation process?
  • Will there be an extra room for the intended parents?
  • What is the plan if the intended parents are late to delivery due to unforeseen travel issues?
  • What forms will need to be signed and filled out by whom?
  • Are photos or video allowed in the hospital?

As a surrogate, it’s good to remember that circumstances around labor and delivery can change at any moment, which can result in a change to the birth plan. For instance, if the baby must be delivered by C-section, there may only be one support person and/or intended parent in the room with you. Planning for these circumstances in advance can help everyone’s overall hospital experience.

Immediately after delivery, the intended parents may have skin-to-skin contact with the baby. This can help regulate anxiety, blood pressure, stress, and heart rate in the parents and the newborn baby. Skin-to-skin right after delivery can help transition the baby to life beyond the womb.

While surrogates are not encouraged to have skin-to-skin with the baby, they may wish to pump colostrum and breastmilk at the hospital for the intended parents or donation entity, like a hospital or milk donation agency like Preemies Milk Bank. Your journey coordinator can help connect you with someone at a hospital or donation agency for the required paperwork. If the intended parents have chosen to receive breast milk for their baby, shipping breastmilk post-delivery can feel like such a positive experience in being able to help care for the baby. In other cases, the parents may decide to bottle feed with formula or a combination of formula and breastmilk.

FAQs About Surrogacy

The surrogacy journey is different for everyone. We’ve put together some top questions about the experience from the surrogate’s perspective to help you better understand the process.

1. How Do Surrogates Feel After Birth?

Many surrogates feel strong, overwhelming emotions around delivery in a positive way. After delivery, surrogates often experience indescribable joy in seeing the intended parents hold their newborn baby for the first time, knowing they fulfilled a lifelong dream for them.

Surrogates may also feel relief that they finally reached the finish line in completing their journey, which can take 1 ½ to 2 years to complete! Remember that all emotions are valid, and you should give yourself the space and time you need to celebrate and process the various aspects of having been a surrogate. It can sometimes feel sad to have the intended parents and baby travel home. Remember to rely on your journey coordinator, friends, and family after the journey as well.

2. What Is Surrogacy Birth Recovery Like?

Post-pregnancy recovery can always be challenging, but surrogates often say that the recovery is much easier because you have time to rest without having a newborn at home! You may be able to continue to provide breast milk to the intended parents or donate your breast milk until you are no longer producing or simply wish to stop. If you’re not breastfeeding or pumping, you could experience discomfort, but everyone is different and should make decisions best for their body and schedules. Surrogates will generally pump every 3 hours or so, which can be challenging depending on work and family schedules. Having a quality pump through your insurance, hospital, or OB office can make the process easier.

Every pregnancy and delivery is different, so it’s best for surrogates to expect at least some differences from their own personal pregnancies. Some physical and mental aspects of post-delivery for surrogates can include:

  • Hormone changes.
  • Cramping in your abdomen.
  • Fatigue.
  • Incision soreness and healing if you had a C-section.
  • Vaginal bleeding in the first few days following delivery.
  • Tears in the skin or muscle after a vaginal birth.
  • Stress incontinence.
  • Constipation.
  • Post partum anxiety or depression.

Keep in mind that this is just a short list of challenges during recovery. It’s important to consult with your medical providers and journey coordinator if you experience any unusual symptoms or have concerns about your birth recovery. Make sure to let everyone know the dates of your postpartum OBGYN visits. Feeling a bit anxious or down? Your mental health after a surrogacy journey is just as important as your physical health. There absolutely are mental health sessions available to you or surrogate support groups to talk through what you’re experiencing. Feel free to speak up and seek support as soon as you notice any mental health shifts. Your friends, family, agency, and mental health providers want to help with the transition post surrogacy journey.

3. Do Surrogates Experience Mental Health Challenges?

Giving birth is a rewarding but emotional experience. According to a surrogate mental health study, 90% of surrogates reported a good relationship with their intended parents, and 80% felt highly supported by them. Overall, about two-thirds of surrogates were highly satisfied with their experience. However, everyone is different.

There are certainly mental health challenges you might face after your surrogacy journey is complete. After giving birth for a surrogacy journey, it’s possible to experience stress, anxiety, and depression even if you didn’t experience mental health shifts during previous pregnancies or deliveries. It’s also completely normal to feel sad, lonely or detached, especially once your intended parents and baby return home. It can feel like the celebration is over. Receiving pictures from your intended parents can help as well. No matter what your surrogacy experience entails after delivery, it’s so important to advocate for your physical and mental health. There are numerous resources that can help and support you throughout the journey and afterwards as well. Even just one or two mental health sessions can help discuss how you’re feeling. CFC and other agencies also have monthly group surrogates sessions. It’s likely that someone has felt similarly to what you’re going through.

4. Do Surrogates Get Postpartum Depression or Anxiety?

Postpartum depression, or the “baby blues” in more mild cases, is a common condition that occurs after birth due to hormone changes and many other factors. As a surrogate, carrying someone else’s child can be very emotional. Some surrogates may feel sad that the journey is over or that their intended parents and the baby returned home, which can lead to common feelings of depression, emptiness, anxiety, or grief during postpartum recovery.

In many cases, the feelings of depression, sadness, and anxiety ease with time, but they can be more intense for others. Some surrogates may experience severe feelings of isolation and detachment. Because postpartum depression is commonly attributed to hormone changes, it’s not something you can predict or avoid even considering how your past pregnancies and deliveries were.

Ahead of your surrogacy journey, it’s vital to have open and honest communication with your health care providers, journey coordinator, and surrogacy attorney. Relying on your support system of your close loved ones is also a great idea for your mental health and well-being after the journey.

5. What Are Parent Relationships Like With a Surrogate After Birth?

One of the most essential steps of a surrogacy journey is the relationship expectations you and the intended parents set for before and after delivery. You’ll want to decide how much contact you want throughout the process and after the birth of the baby at the very beginning of your journey. Some surrogates and intended parents may wish to stay in touch after the birth, whereas others would prefer to keep contact minimal.

Some parents and surrogates become lifelong close friends, offering support and expressing gratitude to the surrogate. Other times, surrogates and intended parents shift back to their busy lives and lose touch. It’s important to be open and honest about your desires and expectations to ensure all parties have a smooth transition after birth. Setting parameters on communication can help everyone find a comfortable level of interaction and uphold mutual understanding and respect.

Explore Surrogacy Options With Creative Family Connections

Surrogacy can be such a rewarding and fulfilling experience for intended parents and individuals looking to become a surrogate. If you’re considering surrogacy, you probably have many questions about the financial and legal process. At Creative Family Connections (CFC), we’re a surrogacy agency and law firm dedicated to helping families through their surrogacy journeys.

Our experienced surrogacy attorneys will guide you through the screening process, appointments, travel, and legal documents while providing support and effective communication. It’s our goal to make your surrogacy journey as successful and stress-free as possible with our extensive legal services for full surrogacy or independent family journeys. To learn more about how we can provide detailed guidance every step of the way, contact us today.

 

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