When you or a partner are carrying a pregnancy the traditional way, it’s hard not to feel involved in that pregnancy. Parents who are carrying a pregnancy through surrogacy, on the other hand, aren’t generally faced with the physical evidence of an ever-growing and changing pregnancy every day. This doesn’t mean that parents through surrogacy can’t be actively and positively involved in a pregnancy, though – it just means that that involvement will take a little extra time and consideration to figure out. And feeling involved in the surrogate pregnancy can be a great way for intended parents to start to bond with their babies before birth
All of the following suggestions are ideas that may work better for some families than for others, and are great things to talk through with your surrogate or gestational carrier, to make sure that you, your partner, and your surrogate or gestational carrier are all on the same page about the level of involvement you’re comfortable with and looking for. The only wrong way to have a relationship with a gestational carrier is the one that feels wrong to your family or to your gestational carrier.
- Going to appointments: One of the best ways to stay actively engaged in the pregnancy, start to bond with your baby, and show support for your gestational carrier is to show up for as many checkups and medical appointments as possible, as long as that’s something your gestational carrier is comfortable with. Pregnancy is an intensely physical experience, and staying actively aware of the medical care needed for a safe and healthy pregnancy is a great way to both stay aware of the physical impact the pregnancy is having on your gestational carrier and watch your little one grow, change, and develop.
- Checking in with your gestational carrier regularly: There’s no rule about what the right or healthy amount of contact to have with your gestational carrier, there’s just the amount that works for your family and for your gestational carrier. Ideally, you’ve already talked this through, but your family’s relationship with your gestational carrier is going to grow and change, just like any organic relationship. As you get to know each other better, one or both of you might find yourself wanting a bit more or less time or contact, and as these feelings come up, it’s important to be able to talk them through. Having a time set aside to check in regularly can be a great way to bring these thoughts and feelings up as they arise, and to make sure neither side of your relationship with your gestational carrier is feeling insecure or unsure about how things are going.
- Look to the future: If having your gestational carrier be a part of your family’s future at the end of the pregnancy is part of your plan, now is a great time to look forward to what that might look like, and to talk about traditions or types of relationships you might like to start to build, not just with your surrogate, but with your surrogate’s family, and the people in her life.
- Together and apart: Most parents having babies through surrogacy don’t live with their gestational carriers, which means that babies born through surrogacy don’t have exactly the same chance to start to get to know their parents before birth that babies with more traditional paths to delivery have. Intended parents through surrogacy can bridge the gap both by spending some quality time with their gestational carrier and by asking her if she’ll be willing to coordinate with you on some sounds for the baby to hear before delivery. This might mean recordings of the intended parents’ voices for the baby to hear, or just the agreement to play a few favorite songs fairly often, so that parents can also play those songs once the baby is born, to add to the baby’s feelings of familiarity and comfort.
- Be prepared: Like any parents, intended parents through surrogacy can get ready for their brand new bundles of joy by doing a little nesting. Setting up the nursery the baby’s going to be moving into, setting up a safe car seat for the ride home, and other material preparations can help parents through surrogacy prepare physically and emotionally to welcome a new baby into their lives.
The experience of pregnancy is different for parents through surrogacy, certainly, but that doesn’t mean that a surrogate pregnancy can’t be full of positive, active engagement for parents-to-be.