There is so much for potential surrogates and intended parents to think about at the start of the surrogacy journey—from surrogate requirements to the financial commitment to the matching process—but what happens after a surrogate gives birth is also an important consideration.
Planning Ahead for After a Surrogate Gives Birth
There are many decisions surrogates and intended parents, along with their case manager and healthcare team, can work through together before it’s time for the baby to arrive. A great deal of what happens in the delivery room is agreed upon in advance and put into a comprehensive birth plan. Who will be present in the delivery room, at what point they’ll come in, where they’ll stand and how much interaction they will have with the surrogate are all topics that can be discussed ahead of time.
It’s important to note, however, that circumstances during labor and delivery can change quickly and, as a result, changes to the birth plan may become inevitable. For example, if a c-section becomes necessary, only one support person may be allowed in the operating room. Protocols related to COVID-19 (or other infectious illnesses) may also require changes to be made to the birth plan.
What to Expect Immediately After Delivery
Most hospitals recommend skin-to-skin contact, often called kangaroo care or “the golden hour.” It regulates body temperature and blood sugar, increases blood oxygen levels and stabilizes heart rate and blood pressure in newborns. While intended parents most certainly can (and should!) experience skin-to-skin with their baby, there are additional benefits that come with the baby being placed directly on the surrogate’s chest after delivery.
The surrogate’s sound and smell are familiar, which may help the baby transition to life outside the womb. Studies have also shown that babies placed on the chest of their surrogates colonize bacteria faster, which may offer benefits to their immune systems. Additionally, there are benefits for the surrogate, including increased milk production (if she will be providing milk for the baby), reduced postpartum bleeding and a lower risk of developing postpartum depression.
The baby may be ready to eat as soon as an hour after birth—and there are a few options for how to fill them up for the first time. If the surrogate has agreed to provide breast milk, she may nurse the baby right away or extract colostrum for the intended parents to bottle feed the baby. If that isn’t part of the plan, the intended parents may plan to give the baby a bottle of formula when they start to show their first hunger cues.
What Happens Next?
Just like any woman giving birth, what happens to each surrogate after delivery can vary greatly. Some women may feel exhausted while others may feel a rush. Some women may experience a high level of pain while others may feel great. The type of delivery (vaginal or c-section) determines the specifics of a postpartum care plan, but nurses monitor all patients closely. They will frequently record vitals like heart rate, blood pressure and temperature and will work hard to help keep pain under control.
Newborn babies receive the same, and sometimes more, monitoring after delivery. Neonatal nurses will check their vitals frequently, record all of their feeds and diapers and perform routine newborn screenings.
What Will the Hospital Stay Be Like After a Surrogate Gives Birth?
The baby and intended parents may stay in the room with the surrogate—or they may stay in another room in the hospital, if available. The amount of communication during the rest of the hospital stay also depends on everyone’s comfort level and expectations.
The surrogate will likely have visitors to support her as she recovers; the intended parents will likely have visitors to meet and welcome their new baby. Sometimes the surrogate’s family and friends have the opportunity to meet the baby; the surrogate and intended parents typically make that decision together in advance.
Depending on the type of delivery and how the surrogate and the baby are recovering, the length of their hospital stays may vary; one may be discharged before the other.
How Will Everyone Feel After the Baby Arrives?
Due to the extreme hormonal changes that occur after giving birth, most women experience a rollercoaster of emotions. That can be especially true for surrogates after they give birth and this journey comes to an end. They may experience feelings of sadness or emptiness. And at the same time, they may experience feelings of joy seeing the baby and intended parents together at last.
Intended parents can also feel a multitude of emotions—their child was just born! While the excitement, joy and love is usually palpable, just like any new parents, they may feel anxious or nervous. Bringing home a newborn is such a special gift, but it’s also a major life change. It can take some time for all new parents to adjust as they find a good rhythm and routine.
There’s no “normal” way for anyone to feel after a surrogate gives birth; what matters most is for the surrogate and the intended parents to allow themselves to truly experience and process their emotions.
Surrogacy and Egg Donor Services
To learn more about what happens after a surrogate gives birth, or about anything related to the surrogacy journey, please contact us. 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.