Recovery After Surrogacy: Part 2
You’ve walked a journey for nine months (and longer) preparing for a surrogate birth. You may have done the shots, all of the testing, all of the work leading up to becoming a surrogate, the pregnancy and all the relationship building and planning between you and the Intended Parents, but how did you prepare yourself for AFTER the birth experience. AFTER you handed over the gift of a baby to the Intended Parents. Did you only plan on the physical care after childbirth? What about your heart? Did you plan for your emotional care after surrogate birth?
In Recovery After Surrogacy: Part 1 , we focused on the physical recovery after surrogate birth. Your physical need for support is easily recognizable by those around you: you no longer have the pregnant belly. But what about your emotional needs? How are they recognized? Are you talking about them or asking for help…..or do you tell yourself “I chose this situation, so I need to deal with it on my own”.
No you don’t and no you shouldn’t!
Your emotional journey after surrogacy can be more complex. First and foremost, there is no baby in your arms to cuddle and coo at and raise the Oxytocin levels in your body, yet your hormones are swirling and your body is still recovering. Your emotional needs are not to be taken lightly. The seriousness of the emotional needs of a surrogate mother is discussed on Surrogate.com :
As with any pregnancy, you may be at risk for depression during and after the surrogacy process. While you’ll be excited and overwhelmingly happy for the intended parents, you may also experience some difficult feelings of grief and loss following the birth of the baby.
These feelings are why it’s so important to meet with a mental health professional, seek surrogacy counseling and establish boundaries and expectations for post-birth contact before you even become pregnant.
A key part of coping with any challenging emotions you may experience is creating a solid support system that you can lean on before, during and after your surrogate pregnancy. This should be a group of friends and/or family members who can talk to about your feelings — but it’s important that you are open and honest with them (and yourself) during the whole process.
Here are some tools for planning for your emotional recovery after surrogacy:
Line up your “village” of support for your physical and emotional recovery.
Before baby arrives, gather recommendations for counselors or therapists that are experienced in surrogacy issues.
Create a solid support system. As mentioned above, this may include very trusted friends and family.
Seek out professionally trained postpartum support. Locally, there are often doulas who support surrogates, not only during the birth process, but once you’re home after a surrogate birth. Postpartum doulas are professionally trained to provide all encompassing support in a non-judgmental, unbiased manner.
Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ASK FOR HELP.
Although we have focused primarily on YOUR emotional recovery after surrogate birth, it is equally important to consider the emotional health of the surrogate’s immediate family. Postpartum doulas are trained to support the family as a whole and can offer gentle guidance to partners or spouses as they navigate this time with the surrogate mother.
It is vital that you take care of yourself. Pay attention to your feelings and, to use a common phrase, “feel all the feels”. Your surrogacy experience didn’t end when the baby was born. Travel the rest of this journey with honesty and allow yourself to arrive at a place of closure in your own time.
You just provided the most beautiful gift to another person. Be kind to yourself.