Working with a surrogate to help bring your baby into the world serves up a special set of circumstances and understanding what your surrogate might be going through can help you identify the best ways to support her.
Understand the situation
The surrogacy arrangement is a unique one. It’s transactional in some ways but it’s also incredibly personal for you both. You are entering into an agreement with another human being to carry your baby. That can stir up a lot of emotions and make sometimes straightforward plans more complex as many decisions will need to take into account your best interests, the baby’s, and the surrogate’s.
Supporting your surrogate begins with respecting her bodily autonomy and extending empathy and understanding for all the things she may be experiencing during pregnancy. Being pregnant, regardless of whether the baby has a biological connection to the carrier, comes with fluctuations in hormones, physiological changes, and physical discomfort at the very least. Your surrogate may already be a parent and may have gone through pregnancy before, which could impact this process for her.
Say the words out loud — tell her that you respect her and trust that she will make the right decisions for herself and her body with baby in mind. Creating a transparent and respectful rapport starts from the first introduction. After you’ve vetted potential surrogates and are setting up the contract, talk through some potential complicated scenarios and decisions. Don’t leave questions for later, as that will only increase the chances of miscommunication or confusion. Respect starts with clear communication, listening, and compromise.
Take time to go beyond the transactional components of this dynamic and be intentional about getting to know your surrogate and making her feel cared for. Checking in on how she’s feeling emotionally and getting to know her on a more personal level can help you form a deeper relationship and maintain a healthy rapport, which can ultimately lead to better outcomes.
People opt to become parents through surrogacy for a number of reasons. For some, this is not a first choice or an option they had planned for. If this is your experience, there will likely be parts of this process that are likely painful for you. You might be yearning to feel your little one’s first kicks, attend appointments, and give birth. Make sure you’re getting the support you need. It’s okay to have mixed emotions during this time, even as you feel thrilled to welcome your baby into the world.
When in doubt, ask. Ask permission to accompany her to doctor’s visits if you live a close distance away. Ask permission to touch her belly or to pursue any type of action that might be perceived as intimate or private. Your surrogate may be carrying your baby, but her body is hers. There are no hard and fast rules of thumb — every surrogate (like every person) has their own unique set of preferences. But err on the side of checking before assuming, touching, or taking action on something that relates to your surrogate’s bodily autonomy or wellbeing.
Let her know you will let her take her lead in terms of sharing updates on how her body is feeling or changing, or how she is caring for her body during pregnancy. Tell her you trust that she will share information that is pertinent and relevant and that you won’t pry.
The gift of helping to create a human being to grow your family is one that goes beyond the realm of normal gratitude. Come back to that place even – and especially – during any moments that might be particularly stressful or frustrating, and lean into appreciation for the sacrifice and gift the surrogate is bestowing. You might consider sending gifts to show your appreciation. Offer to underwrite pregnancy-related supplies that help make her more comfortable, like pregnancy pillows.
Emotions will run high for all parties during a surrogacy arrangement. Be sure to communicate clearly any intentions or reactions or needs. Be direct and try not to let feelings cloud sound judgment or get in the way of creating mature and respectful dialogue with your surrogate. Maintaining a friendly but somewhat professional rapport will help keep guardrails in place that prevent the type of angst that can arise when people are feeling vulnerable and opinionated.
Lean into extending grace, kindness and gratitude and prioritizing your surrogate’s wellbeing, and you’ll build a healthy relationship that may carry well past your baby’s due date.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team