After a long journey of infertility medications, IVF procedures and pregnancy, you’ll be ready for the final step in your surrogacy journey: your delivery experience.
Because you are carrying a child for someone else, your hospital experience will be a bit different than what you may be used to with traditional pregnancies. You and your intended parents will be equally important parts of this delivery experience, and your surrogacy professional will work to create a hospital plan that you both are comfortable with.
Surrogates are often curious about what the hospital stay will look like, especially when it’s their first time being a surrogate. Remember, each surrogacy is unique, which means that each surrogacy hospital experience will be unique, too. Only your surrogacy professional can give you an accurate idea of what to expect when you give birth.
However, there are some general steps that may be the same for most surrogates. You can find them outlined below.
Before Your Hospital Stay
The details of your hospital stay will be determined early on in your surrogacy journey. Your preferences for your delivery experience may factor into your matching with intended parents and will certainly be discussed while you are drafting your surrogacy contract. Some things that you and the intended parents will discuss early on will include:
- What hospital you will deliver at
- Any additional assistance you want in the delivery room (for example, a doula)
- Your and the intended parents’ preferences for who will be in the delivery room
- Who will cut the cord and hold the baby first
- Whether the intended parents want you to breastfeed after birth
- The financial compensation and coverage the intended parents will give
- What kind of delivery pictures (if any) will be taken
- And more
Your surrogacy specialist will guide you through this conversation, bringing up topics that you may be unaware of so you are fully prepared for this experience.
Sometimes, not all of these details can be worked out until your specialist starts planning directly with your hospital. This usually begins during your third trimester, when you know whether you will have a vaginal delivery or a planned cesarean-section. Your surrogacy specialist will directly communicate with your OBGYN and hospital to create a delivery plan that meets the expectations you and your intended parents have. You will know every detail before entering the hospital, so as to eliminate the possibility of surprises along the way. Your specialist will also give you a list of things to prepare for your hospital bag, just in case you start having contractions before your delivery date.
During Your Hospital Stay
When you are ready to give birth, your surrogacy specialist will help arrange for your transportation to the hospital, if needed. Once there, you will be given your own room, in which you will either deliver vaginally or go to an operating room for a C-section.
Whether or not the intended parents will be in the delivery room with you will often depend upon the hospital policies. In most surrogacies, one or both of the intended parents are able to be by your side while you deliver. From there, they will be able to hold the baby, cut the umbilical cord or complete any other delivery experiences you wish to share with them. If they are unable to be in the operating or delivery room, they may be able to watch through a window.
Again, your surrogacy specialist will arrange all of this before you arrive at the hospital, so you will know what to expect ahead of time.
After you give birth, you and the intended parents will likely spend time together as you recover. The intended parents may or may not have their own room in the hospital and, if they do, their baby will likely stay with them following delivery. If they don’t, they may stay with you (if you are comfortable) or stay in a local hotel. While intended parents will want some bonding time with their new addition, they will also respect your role and allow you to spend time with all of them while you are recovering from your delivery.
During this time, you will likely be able to have your family and friends visit you and the baby, and the intended parents may have their own loved ones come, as well. Again, these preferences will be determined before you arrive at the hospital.
Your Hospital Discharge
Depending on your personal delivery experience, you can expect to stay in the hospital between 24 and 72 hours after birth to recover. The baby will also stay in the hospital until he or she is cleared for discharge, usually at least 24 hours if they do not require admittance to the NICU.
Depending on the surrogacy laws in your state, you may be required to sign additional paperwork after birth to establish the intended parents’ rights to their baby. If this is the case, your surrogacy specialist and surrogacy lawyer will be there to explain your legal rights and what you are signing.
Because the intended parents will have custody of the baby, they will likely be discharged from the hospital at a different time than you. This is normal, and your surrogacy specialist will explain what this goodbye may look like. Many intended parents will be happy to continue contact with you after the baby is born, and the “goodbye” at the hospital may be more like a “see you later.”
At this time, you may feel some confusing emotions due to your pregnancy hormones. Remember, your surrogacy specialist will be there to provide any practical or emotional support you need during your recovery in the hospital and once you return home. You will likely have a few weeks of maternity leave after delivery, and your surrogate compensation will cover any lost wages. You will also receive your final payment of base compensation after a successful delivery. Any plans to continue breastfeeding for the intended parents or stop your lactation will have already been determined before you return home, as well.
At this point, your surrogacy journey will be complete, and any additional contact you have with the intended parents after your delivery will depend upon the personal relationship you built during your surrogacy journey.
This article is just a general outline of the steps involved in a surrogacy delivery plan. Your personal plan will vary based on your preferences and those of your intended parents, as well as the policies of the hospital that you choose to deliver in. To get a more accurate idea of what your delivery experience may look like, speak with a surrogacy professional today.