What to Expect After Birth: Surrogates and Parents

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

Between the matching process, medical screening, IVF injections, making a birth plan, and feeling the anticipation of giving birth, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos. However, you will also want to know what happens on the day of birth and afterwards. 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 make some decisions together before the baby arrives creating a birth plan. The surrogacy birth plan and hospital stay are important parts of the process, as they outline what will happen in the delivery room and afterward, including:

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

Alternatively, it is good to remember that the circumstances surrounding labor and delivery can change at any time, which may result in a change in the birth plan. For example, if the baby needs to be delivered by C-section, there may be a support person and/or intended parent in the room with you. Planning for these situations ahead of time will help everyone’s overall experience at the hospital.

Immediately after delivery, the intended parents skin-to-skin contact may occur with the baby. It can help control anxiety, blood pressure, stress, and heart rate in parents and newborn babies. Skin-to-skin after birth can help the baby transition to life beyond the womb.

Although surrogates are not encouraged to have skin-to-skin contact with the baby, they may request to pump colostrum and breast milk at a hospital for the intended parents or donation entity, such as 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 necessary paperwork. If intended parents choose to receive breast milk for their baby, sending breast milk after delivery can be a positive experience in being able to help care for the baby. In other cases, parents may decide to bottle feed with formula or a combination of formula and breast milk.

FAQs About Surrogacy

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

1. How Do Surrogates Feel After Birth?

Many surrogates feel strong, overwhelming emotions during childbirth in a positive way. After giving birth, surrogates often experience an indescribable joy at seeing the intended parents hold their newborn baby for the first time, knowing they have fulfilled a lifelong dream for them.

Alternates may also feel relieved that they have finally reached the finish line in completing their journey, which may have taken 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 different aspects of being a surrogate. Sometimes it’s sad that parents and babies go home. Remember to rely on your journey coordinator, friends, and family after the trip.

2. What is Surrogacy Birth Recovery?

Recovery after pregnancy can always be difficult, but surrogates often say that recovery is easier because you have time to rest without a newborn at home! You can continue to give breast milk to the intended parents or give your breast milk until you no longer do or want to stop. If you are not breastfeeding or pumping, you may experience discomfort, but everyone is different and should make decisions that are best for their bodies and schedules. Surrogates will usually pump every 3 hours or so, which can be difficult depending on work and family schedules. Getting a quality pump through your insurance, hospital, or OB’s office can make the process easier.

Every pregnancy and birth 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 may include:

  • Hormonal changes.
  • Cramping in your stomach.
  • Fatigue
  • Pain during the incision and recovery if you have a C-section.
  • Vaginal bleeding in the first days after childbirth.
  • Tears in the skin or muscles after childbirth in the genitals.
  • Stress incontinence.
  • Constipation.
  • Post partum anxiety or depression.

Remember that this is just a short list of challenges during recovery. It is important to consult with your medical providers and journey coordinator if you experience any unusual symptoms or have concerns about your recovery from childbirth. Be sure to let everyone know the dates of your postpartum OBGYN visits. A little anxious or sad? Your mental health after a surrogacy journey is just as important as your physical health. There are definitely mental health sessions you can use or alternatively support groups to talk about what you’re going through. Don’t hesitate to speak up and seek support as soon as you notice any changes in mental health. Your friends, family, agencies, and mental health providers will want to help you transition after the surrogacy journey.

3. Do Surrogates Experience Mental Health Challenges?

Childbirth is a rewarding but emotional experience. According to a surrogate mental health study, 90% of alternatives reported a good relationship with their intended parents, and 80% felt they were very supportive. Overall, nearly two-thirds of surrogates were very satisfied with their experience. However, everything is different.

There are certain mental health challenges you may face after completing your surrogacy journey. After giving birth for a surrogacy journey, it is possible to experience stress, anxiety, and depression even if you have not experienced mental health changes in previous pregnancies or births. It’s also normal to feel sad, lonely, or separated, especially when your parents and baby are home. Looks like the celebration is over. Receiving photos from your parents can also help. Regardless of what your postpartum surrogacy experience entails, it’s extremely important to promote your physical and mental health. There are many resources that can help and support you throughout the journey and beyond. Even a mental health session or two can help talk about how you’re feeling. CFC and other agencies also have monthly group surrogates sessions. Chances are someone has felt something similar to what you are going through.

4. Do Surrogates Get Postpartum Depression or Anxiety?

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

In many cases, feelings of depression, sadness, and anxiety ease over time, but they can become more intense for others. Some surrogates may experience intense feelings of isolation and alienation. Since postpartum depression is usually related to hormone changes, it’s not something you can predict or avoid even considering how your previous pregnancies and deliveries went.

Before your surrogacy journey, it is important to have open and honest communication with your health care providers, travel coordinator, and surrogacy attorney. Relying on your support system of your loved ones is also a good idea for your mental health and well-being after the trip.

5. What is the Parent’s Relationship with a Surrogate After Birth?

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

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

Explore Surrogacy Options With Creative Family Connections

Surrogacy can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for both intended parents and individuals looking to become a surrogate. If you’re considering surrogacy, you probably have a lot of questions about the financial and legal process. At Creative Family Connections (CFC), we are a surrogacy agency and law firm dedicated to helping families on 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. We aim 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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