It takes both physical and mental resilience to be a surrogate. The physical parts — preparing the body for pregnancy, undergoing the embryo transfer, becoming pregnant, growing a baby, and giving birth — are obvious. But what about the mental and emotional aspects? How does surrogacy impact a woman’s mental health?
A positive mental state during pregnancy is good for both the surrogate and the growing baby. Just as a surrogate prioritizes her physical health for a successful pregnancy, nurturing her mental health is equally as important. Understanding and addressing the mental and emotional dimensions of surrogacy is key to ensuring a positive experience for both the surrogate and the intended parents.
If you’re a surrogate (or thinking of becoming one), lean on this advice to maintain strong mental health throughout the process:
Build a Support System
Having a robust support system is like having a sturdy foundation for a house — it provides stability and strength. Bolster your support system with resilience and understanding by:
- Sharing your decision: Openly communicate your decision to become a surrogate with your close friends and family. Having a supportive network is essential during this time.
- Connecting with other surrogates: Seek out online forums or local support groups where you can connect with other surrogates. Sharing experiences can provide a sense of camaraderie and understanding.
- Striving for open communication: Keep an open line of communication with your partner throughout the surrogacy process. Share your feelings, concerns and milestones, which will help foster a strong support system at home.
- Attending counseling together: Consider attending counseling sessions with your partner or other members of your support team. Professional guidance can strengthen your relationship and help you navigate the emotional aspects of surrogacy.
Set Emotional Boundaries
When you work on establishing and maintaining emotional boundaries, you create a safe and respectful space for both yourself and the intended parents. You can do this by:
- Establishing clear guidelines: Clearly communicate your comfort levels regarding communication with the intended parents. Define the frequency and mode of communication that works best for you.
- Being honest about expectations: Set realistic expectations with the intended parents. Clearly express what you’re comfortable with during the pregnancy, birth, and post-birth phases.
- Checking in with yourself often: Schedule regular check-ins with yourself. Reflect on your emotions, and if you find any challenges, don’t hesitate to seek professional support.
- Practicing stress-relief techniques: Incorporate stress-relief techniques into your routine such as mindfulness, journaling, deep breathing exercises, or doing activities you enjoy.
It’s important to celebrate joyful moments and milestones in a way that honors your contribution and strengthens the bond between you and the intended parents. Do this by:
- Being transparent about milestones: Maintain open communication about how you and the intended parents want to celebrate milestones. Aligning expectations from the beginning ensures a harmonious and positive experience.
- Creating a memory journal: Start a journal to document your surrogacy journey. Capture your thoughts, feelings, and memorable moments. Not only is this calming in the moment, you can read it years later for some heartfelt nostalgia.
- Having inclusive celebrations: Include the intended parents in celebratory moments. Share ultrasound pictures, involve them in baby-related decisions, and help foster a sense of shared joy.
Seek Professional Support
How do you know if you’re struggling with your mental health during surrogacy, and how soon is too soon to reach out for help? Keep this advice in mind:
- Identify warning signs: Be mindful of warning signs indicating emotional distress. If you experience persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or high stress, seek professional help promptly.
- Consider individual counseling: Talking to a mental health professional one-on-one provides a dedicated space for you to navigate complex emotions.
- Go to joint counseling with the intended parents: This proactive approach can foster understanding and strengthen the collaborative journey.
- Have open dialogue: Maintain an open dialogue with your surrogacy agency and healthcare professionals. They are there to support you, so don’t hesitate to share your feelings and seek guidance.
Note: When you work with The Fertility Agency, we provide a wide array of support, including psychological support. If you want or need to talk with a therapist, we have professionals we can easily connect you with. Whether you need one session to talk about an issue that has come up, or many sessions for a larger issue, we want you to have what you need when you need it.
The road to surrogacy isn’t always perfect, but it’s worth it. As you navigate this unique and selfless path, remember that your mental well-being is a priority. Your dedication to helping others create families is truly remarkable, and prioritizing your mental health ensures a smoother journey for all involved.
Surrogacy and Egg Donor Services
Since 2004, The Fertility Agency has helped bring over 1100+ babies into the world. We work with all intended parents, surrogates, and egg donors no matter their sexual preference, relationship status, ethnicity, location, etc. Our personal experiences and years of expertise provide us with the perfect balance of business and passion. Contact us for more information.