Labor & Delivery for Surrogates

When it comes to labor, delivery, and recovery, the best advice is to have a plan in place and know that your plan might not happen. As you likely experienced with your own births, babies have a mind of their own and sometimes your best laid plans just won’t matter.

Even so, heading into the big day will be less stressful if you’ve worked on and talked through a “best case scenario” and a “worst case scenario” with all of the major players of the day. Your intended parents, partner, OB, and childcare provider should all be on the same page about what you hope will happen as well as a few alternate plans in case things take a different direction than planned.

You’ll want to talk with your Intended Parents, or your case specialist if you’re more comfortable, about the laboring and birth process especially. Some surrogates feel most comfortable with only visits from the IPs during the laboring while others would prefer them in the room as often as possible. Likewise, some IPs may not want to be in the room for labor, or even birth, while others may want to experience every moment. While your comfort is key, also bear in mind that it’s their child you’re about to give birth to and that they likely have emotional hopes and expectations for this day as well.

If your birth includes a caesarian section, either planned or by medical necessity, you should have a plan on the books for that as well. Often hospitals will only allow one support person in the operating room with the surrogate. Discussing if this person should be the surrogate’s support person or an intended parent in advance can help offer some stability in this situation.

Another thing you’ll want to discuss in advance of a labor situation, if possible, is how early the parents want to be informed of your status. Some IPs will only want to know about labor onset once it’s been confirmed and you’ve been admitted to the hospital. Others will want as much advance notice as possible in order to ensure a timely arrival at the hospital.

Bear in mind that feelings and emotions change, too. What you think you’ll be comfortable with during the birth planning stage may differ dramatically from what you’re comfortable with once you’re in the birthing suite. It’s important to express what you need and are comfortable with to your nurse or your IPs if things change.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 22 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for the last two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the American Fertility Association, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 28 years and their two teenage daughters.