Becoming a surrogate is an incredible and amazing gift, but it can also provide some unique challenges to the thousands of women each year who decide to take this journey. It’s an incredibly sensitive time for everyone involved: the surrogate, her family, and the couple for whom she is carrying the pregnancy.
While there are many different reasons for why a woman would decide to become a surrogate, in each case, she’ll need extra support and help throughout the pregnancy. Pregnancy on its own is a huge deal, but carrying a pregnancy for someone else is monumental.
Whether you are Parents who are working with a gestational carrier, or someone you know and care about is carrying a pregnancy for someone else, there is a lot you can do to help support your surrogate during her pregnancy.
By far, this is a favorite with pregnant women and surrogates alike. Pregnancy is very physically demanding! From morning sickness to trying to figure out how to reach the sink to do dishes over a pregnant belly, housework and chores aren’t easy for pregnant women. Britt agrees: “Even something as small as doing the dishes! Oh gosh, I was so happy when my husband starting doing the dishes for me. We’re a family of 6, so there were a lot and I was so sick at the beginning.”
Intended Parents can still be a huge help with the housework, even if they don’t live with their surrogate. Arranging for a housekeeper to visit once every couple of weeks can help tremendously, as it takes the pressure off of both her and her spouse.
A night off from cooking is a wonderful gesture. Ask for a favorite restaurant or delivery place and have food sent over so she doesn’t have to cook, or clean up. This helps her stay rested, healthy, and happy.
Help Her Relax
Surrogacy, like any pregnancy, comes with its own set of aches and pains, and can be very difficult on the body. Helping your surrogate stay relaxed and comfortable is so important! If your wife is acting as a surrogate, give her lots of foot and back rubs and make sure she gets to bed at a decent time.
Kayley, a surrogate mother, explains: “My husband was my biggest support in my surrogacy journey. I carried twins and he was just my rock. He took care of our children and helped more around the house. He gave me extra back massages and made sure I was okay. He took a lot of stress off me, which made the pregnancy much easier.”
This doesn’t just apply to spouses or immediate family. If you are an Intended Parent, send your surrogate for a spa day, or find a local massage place that offers a prenatal package so she can go regularly. If she’s active and the doctor gives the okay, send her a gift card for prenatal yoga classes, which can be both relaxing and beneficial during labor and delivery.
She’ll undoubtedly appreciate the extra effort you take to make sure she is as comfortable as possible during her pregnancy.
Spend Time Together
Get to know your surrogate a little bit better! Take her out for a cup of coffee (or tea!) or out to dinner and just chat. Getting to know each other better can help to facilitate communication within this process, especially since it is such an emotionally charged one.
Check In With Her
The end of a pregnancy can be difficult, especially for a surrogate! In addition to the regular pregnancy discomforts, she is likely nervous about delivery, how things will change, and how it will feel to hand the baby back to its parents. Jeremy, an Intended Parent currently working with a surrogate adds that it is important to “keep her in the loop regarding plans. I have made it a point to let her know every detail of travel plans so that she does not feel anxious about where we will be if she goes into labor early.”
If you are an Intended Parent, give her a call periodically to see how she’s feeling and if there’s anything she needs. It’s important to not do this too frequently, as it can appear to some women that they are being micromanaged. It might be helpful to discuss what each of you expects and finds appropriate early on in the relationship.
If you have a friend or family member who is a surrogate, the same applies! Many people aren’t sure how to approach a surrogate mom, or what she may need, but their support means the world. [email protected] agrees: “When I would update friends they always had a cheerful, loving thought and comment to me! And of course, all my other family was supportive! They would ask all the appropriate questions and always have a positive attitude towards my decision to take on this amazing journey!” That kind of undivided and nonjudgemental support is essential, so go ahead and give her a call! Ask how she’s doing or feeling and if there’s anything she needs.
When in doubt, ask her! Ask her what she needs to feel more comfortable or to make the pregnancy easier. Sometimes this may just mean extra help around the house, or it may mean something different. Toward the end of her surrogate pregnancy, Michelle needed help getting to and from appointments. She describes how “around the end, my couple would send a car for me to get to my appointments. The housekeeping every 2 weeks took the extra pressure off my husband. Once a week my couple ordered and had food delivered.”
There is so much that you can do to support your surrogate during her pregnancy. Think about her needs, or ask her directly how you can help. If you are an Intended Parent, speaking with your surrogate coordinator can give you some ideas as well. You support and that of the people around her is instrumental to a successful journey.