Surrogacy is an emotional journey, both for surrogate mothers and the intended parents awaiting their child. The moment you deliver their baby is truly unforgettable. But after months of sacrifice and patience, you may experience a surge of unexpected feelings.
The emotions you encounter during the postpartum period may have nothing to do with the baby you carried. After completing this meaningful journey, you may feel exhilaration, loss, nostalgia or simply a void. Yet with all these highs and lows, most surrogates wouldn’t change a thing — the look on the intended parents’ faces on delivery day is more than worth it.
Common Experiences During the Postpartum Period of Surrogacy
While you may have experienced complex emotions after delivering your own child, surrogacy is a different situation. Here are some common feelings and experiences that surrogate mothers have after childbirth.
Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression
During your recovery, the quick change in hormone levels and combined emotions after nine months of pregnancy may leave you feeling intensely emotional, either with postpartum depression or the more common baby blues.
Baby blues and postpartum depression are two distinct experiences that describe a woman’s mood after childbirth. Baby blues are extremely common, affecting nearly 80% of women after delivery. Less common is postpartum depression, which occurs in about 15% of women shortly after childbirth.
While both conditions share similar signs, postpartum depression symptoms often require treatment. Signs that you may be experiencing postpartum depression include:
- Feeling sad, empty or overwhelmed
- Worrying or feeling overly anxious
- Irritability or moodiness
- Detachment from friends and family
A Sense of Loss at Reaching the End
Surrogacy becomes a huge part of your life even before the embryo transfer. From meeting the intended parents, to regular check-ups, to sharing health reports — there’s so much you do in anticipation of the big day. You’re in constant communication with the surrogacy agency and the intended parents. Then all that comes to an end, and you may feel a little lost and empty.
Postpartum Without a Baby
Surrogates have to recover from postpartum without a baby. For some, this may make the period more difficult as there is a jarring shift in responsibility. You aren’t bringing a baby home after your pregnancy, and that may take some time to come to terms with. After all, your body will still be recovering from childbirth. Yet this experience is no less life-changing than delivering your own baby — it’s just life-changing in a different way.
Four Ways to Cope With Postpartum After Surrogacy
While surrogacy is different for every woman, you can mentally prepare yourself for the postpartum emotions with these four tips:
1. Focus on the Positive
As a surrogate mother, you don’t have the excitement of prepping a nursery or choosing baby names. But you do have the joy and honor of helping a couple finally start a family of their own. Your intended parents may have given up hope, believing this day would never come. Focus on how you were there to witness the happy look on their faces as they held their baby for the first time.
2. Surround Yourself With Love
The postpartum period can feel lonely. Surround yourself with loved ones and your support network to keep intense emotions at bay. Ask friends and family members to babysit, make food or even help around the house. Make sure you have people nearby who will be there to lend an ear and make you laugh on your toughest days.
3. Get Back to a Healthy Lifestyle
During postpartum recovery, you get the freedom to heal and lose the baby weight without having to worry about taking care of a newborn. Be sure to move and get active once your body is ready and eat healthy foods to aid your healing process. Plus, you’ll be able to sleep soundly without a baby keeping you up all night.
4. Seek Treatment for Postpartum Depression
If you’re experiencing any signs of postpartum depression, seek help right away. Be open about how you’re feeling — talk to friends and family members or attend therapy and counseling. If your symptoms are severe, there are medications available that may help.
Begin Your Surrogacy Journey With Western Fertility Institute
While the surrogacy journey will affect you in many emotional and physical ways, it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give to a deserving couple. If you would like to learn more, we invite you to contact Western Fertility Institute today. We would be happy to discuss our requirements for becoming a surrogate and learn more about you.
This content was medically reviewed by the Western Fertility Institute medical team on September 2, 2019.