We’ve said this many times— no matter what the circumstances may be, it takes a village! That can mean dozens of things, depending on the individual needs of a family. Some parents build their families with the help of an egg or sperm donor or a surrogate. Some create relationships with au pairs, nannies, or night nurses, while others find value in joining groups for new parents. Many families choose to include a doula or midwife in their journey. Again, the “villagers” that you choose depend on your needs. Some parents may find that they enlist the help of many of the people we listed— and that’s a beautiful thing! Your children will grow up knowing that plenty of people love them and helped nourish them in the early days of their lives.
Today, we’d like to speak about two specific helping hands that are a part of many parents’ lives: the surrogate and the doula. Doulas are professional companions to pregnant women as they undergo their childbirth experience. Surrogates are women who carry a baby for a pair of intended parents. Though these two “villagers” each play very different roles in the world of childbearing and family-building, working with both of them at once can be a very positive experience for everybody involved.
A Trusted Friend
A doula is often thought of as being the same thing as a midwife, but that’s actually not accurate. Doulas play their own unique role. As a professional doula, Ashley told us, “there are sometimes misconceptions about what a doula is.”
Though both doulas and midwives work in adjacent fields and perform some overlapping tasks, their jobs are different and therefore require different training and skillsets.
There are a few main differences between doulas and midwives. Namely, a midwife is medically trained as their main purpose is to deliver the baby safely. A doula, on the other hand, is not a medical professional; she is there to emotionally support and accompany the woman giving birth throughout both her pregnancy, labor and in those early postpartum days. As Ashley puts it, “Doulas support the family. We support them physically, we support them emotionally, and we also support them with information.”
Support For All
For intended parents working with a surrogate, they might wonder if a doula is still an option. Though that choice is, of course, personal, we’d like to answer with a resounding YES! It is a fantastic idea to bring doula on board if a surrogate is a part of your parenting journey.
Intended parents and surrogates have a very close and special bond. However, it is important to remember that surrogates often go through a very emotional experience while carrying your child— it’s a pregnancy! Though you may be giving support and friendship to your surrogate, you have plenty of things going on in your life— you’re preparing to be a parent. It’s very valuable for your surrogate to have a friend who will be supporting her and have her as a priority. It will take any pressure off of you, particularly once your baby arrives — you’re going to have your hands full!
We spoke to the wonderful Tiffany Trotman, a doula and advocate who has been a surrogate herself. Her surrogate experience, though enriching and ultimately a success, had some very frightening circumstances:
“When I was diagnosed with severe Pre-eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome at 32 weeks, I was hospitalized and would be induced. My best friend, also a birth doula, flew from Florida to New Jersey to support me. I was a single mom at the time… My intended parents, especially the mom, vowed that she would stay with me during and after delivery, but I told her I wanted her to be free to be with her child. Having my doula and best friend by my side was exactly what I needed.”
Tiffany went on to outline the fear she felt when her delivery turned into an emergency cesarean.
As she said, “ I remember the moments I was alone being the scariest, but then they brought her in, and I felt better…She never left my side, spoke for me when I could not, and I trusted her accounts of everything that happened when I was incoherent. I know my intended parents were also relieved that I was being taken care of so that they could join their child in the NICU.”
If building your own family requires the helping hand of a surrogate or an egg donor (or if you would like to become one of those angels yourself,) Extraordinary Conceptions is here to lend you as many helping hands as you might need. We have dedicated centers on both US coasts, as well as a Canadian-specific location in Toronto. No matter which of our locations you need, we are staffed with a team of passionate and multilingual experts who will guide you through this journey. With us, there is nothing complicated about this process— we will make sure that you are protected, whether you’re an intended parent, a surrogate, or an egg donor.
If you would like to speak with someone from our team, we’d love to answer any of your questions. Send an email to Erica at [email protected], and we’ll make sure to get in touch with you as soon as possible.