The experience of a surrogate birth
Birth is a fitting culmination of experiences, the crowning of a journey fraught with deep feelings and strong emotions. When it is your surrogate giving birth, this is augmented ten-fold. Whilst we can never be truly ready in dealing with all that the arrival of a new little being entails, it helps to be prepared in the run up to this most beautiful and long-awaited day.
Below are some tips to consider for when your surrogate gives birth.
Work on a Birth Plan
You must keep in mind that the hospital where your baby will be born might not have plans in place on how to deal with a surrogate birth. A detailed birth plan which takes into consideration every eventuality here comes in handy. Labor and delivery can be quite an unpredictable process: having black on white instructions on what should happen in each possible case makes the whole process a lot more straightforward. It’s wise to start working on a birth plan that addresses both legal and medical issues, well in advance of your surrogate’s due date.
As intended parents, your birth plan should lay out the ground in answer to these questions
- How will the birth occur: will labor be induced, a c-section scheduled or nature is to be let to take its course?
- Where will the baby be born?
- If spontaneous labor is to be the preferred option, at which point should the intended parents be informed?
- What medications are to be administered during labor and birth?
- Who will hold the baby first?
- Where will the intended parents stay during the birth process?
- Should the need arise, will the surrogate agree to an episiotomy or c-section?
- In the case of a c-section, who will attend the birth?
- Who will cut the cord?
- Who will give skin-to-skin?
- Is there to be delayed cord clamping?
- Will the cord blood be banked?
- Will the baby be formula-fed or breastfed?
- Is the surrogate to pump breast milk for the intended parents’ usage
- Should pumping take place only for colostrum or continued?
Apart from these considerations, legal issues should also be addressed. Hospital staff should be made aware that the intended parents are the parents of the newborn and notified about who will make decisions regarding the baby’s health. Whilst the intended parents and the surrogate should be working closely together in formulating the birth plan, other professionals should be involved to ensure utmost accuracy and avoid any issues in the long-run.
Post-partum in a surrogate birth
Post-partum considerations should also be addressed early on. Will the intended parents stay in the same recovery room with the surrogate and newborn, or an adjacent room is to be prepared for use by the intended parents?
Saying goodbye to the surrogate
The surrogate’s hospital stay depends on the nature of delivery. In the case of a vaginal birth, the hospital stay is shorter than when a cesarian has been performed. Either way, a hospital stay of between 24 to 72 hours following the birth is to be expected. It is very probable that the surrogate will not be discharged at the same time as the newborn. It thus makes sense to pre-determine the nature of the farewell that is to take place. Being prepared helps avoid hasty goodbyes which may not proceed as hoped for by both the surrogate and the intended parents.
Addressing the baby’s needs in a surrogate birth
At birth, addressing the baby’s emotional needs should be a priority. A well-planned transfer from the surrogate to the intended parents, that takes into account the baby’s emotional needs has far fetching positive effects. It must also be borne in mind that the baby’s emotional needs also depend on your feelings and emotions as intended parents. The journey leading to surrogacy is not always a straightforward or easy one: coming to terms with the nature of your circumstances and addressing any issues you may have beforehand aids in securing attachment with your newborn. Being involved in the pregnancy, talking to your unborn baby, as well as providing sounds and music that will be a feature in your home, prepares your baby with familiarity once born.
Involving the surrogate in the first instances after birth helps your baby to confirm her senses by being close to scents that she is used to. Whilst this situation would be ideal, it is also not always possible. In such cases, touch remains imperative and skin-to-skin with the intended parents lays the ground for a secure attachment with your newborn.
Bonding and Surrogacy
At some point or another, all of us have heard how mother’s fall in love with their babies upon first laying eyes on them. In reality though, bonding takes time, and most mothers in fact do not experience that sudden falling in love with their baby. The same applies to intended parents. Bonding might not happen instantly but this does not mean that it will never do. Be patient and give time, both to yourself and to your newborn.
Regardless of the means and methods through which parenthood is achieved, the truth is that becoming parents is a journey like no other. Parenthood requires dedication, commitment and patience. At the end of the day, the bond created between parents and child is one that rewards.