The Hospital Stay for Surrogates

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The big day has arrived and you’re off to the hospital to give birth. Here’s a look at what the next several days typically look like for our surrogates.

When you arrive at the hospital you’ll likely be processed through check in much the same as you were with your own births. If this is an unplanned (spontaneous) labor you’ll want to call your case specialist and/or intended parents right away so that they have the best shot possible at making it to the hospital in time for the birth.

Once you’re checked in and in active labor it will be up to you to decide how much access the intended parents and others have to you. You want to make sure you’re comfortable and able to progress through labor without feeling self-conscious and crowded. Being clear and honest with your needs and boundaries will help.

In general, most surrogates will choose to deliver with the intended parents in the room. Following the birth the intended parents will likely be spending immediate time with their newborn while doctors tend to you. It’s pretty normal for IPs and surrogate to share the labor and recovery space from start to finish in some capacity.

Assuming the newborn doesn’t need to spend time in the NICU, the baby is likely to be transferred to the mother and baby (also called postpartum or recovery area) unit at the same time as you are. This generally happens a few hours following the birth.

At this point the goal is to have the new parents in their own room, hopefully close to your private recovery room. This separation will allow the new family to bond while you get some much earned rest! In some situations the parents may not be able to have a room close to you, and in other cases may not have access to their own room at all. To help prepare for this situation, you may want to talk with your intended parents before the birth about your comfort levels of having them in your room with you overnight, and where the newborn should sleep in this situation.

Depending on your type of delivery (vaginal vs cesarean) and the hospital policy, you can expect to stay at the hospital between 24 and 72 hours following the birth.

Unlike the births of your own children, you will likely not be discharged at the exact same time as the newborn. This means that you could be leaving before the parents and baby, or they could be the ones leaving before you. Be prepared for this reality so that you’re not caught off guard in a hasty goodbye.

Most of these preferences will be discussed in your 3rd trimester with your case specialist and your intended parents as part of a birth plan document that you will create. However, the best way to prepare for success is to remain flexible and open to changes in plans.

Most importantly, take time to feel proud during your hospital stay. You’ve done something very few women are capable of doing. You’ve given a gift that is priceless, and changed the future of an entire family. Rest up and savor each of these last moments with your beautiful surrogate family knowing that you’ve changed the lives and futures of an entire family tree forever.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over 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 for Reproductive Medicine, 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 Emeritus 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’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: An Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Red Wheel Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.