It’s time—your surrogate’s water has broken. Her contractions are increasing in frequency and severity. She’s ready. The moment you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived.
Depending on the delivery—vaginal or by C-section, planned or unexpected—you will be notified to arrive at the hospital by time of birth. The call may come through your case specialist or directly from the surrogate, if you’ve maintained a strong emotional bond over the course of pregnancy with them.
Communication between surrogate and IPs is key, as well as between IPs and hospital. Discuss the situation with the floor supervisor well in advance and let them know what you and your surrogate have decided in terms of post-birth routine. The most important thing to emphasize is who the parents are.
Know what the processes will be for delivery, post-birth, breastfeeding, cutting the cord, etc. It’s important to walk through every step of the process to avoid confusion, especially considering how high-energy the day of will be.
En Route to the Hospital
Like any expectant couple, please keep this first and foremost in mind: drive safely.
You may not be in the throes of labor in the front seat, but you and your partner will likely experience high levels of adrenaline in anticipation, excitement, and nervousness. Be patient—you will get there.
Make sure to pack a baby bag like any other expectant couple. Have your surrogate sleep with a transitional item to impart her scent on. The baby will be instinctually comforted by the scent of the surrogate.
An ideal scenario would have you and your surrogate arriving simultaneously. This will make it easier for hospital staff to distinguish you all as a cohesive unit.
However, in many cases, the surrogate and IPs may arrive at different times.
If you’ve been in communications with hospital staff, then they will be expecting you on arrival. You will check in like any other patient, and if one is available, then you will be given your own room.
If your surrogate allows it, you will be permitted access to the delivery room for the birthing process.
In the Delivery Room
No matter how strong your bond with your surrogate is, whether or not you’ll be present in the delivery room is ultimately up to her.
The intended parents aren’t allowed in the delivery room unless the surrogate explicitly requests them. This doesn’t speak to anything more than their ability to have a stress-free, focused environment in which to deliver your child.
If your surrogate undergoes a C-section, bear in mind that most operating rooms only allow one additional person in the room strictly due to lack of working space. Again, it’s up to the surrogate who that one person will be.
Once the cord is cut—again, decided between you and your surrogate—a quick evaluation will check the baby’s vitals, and if baby is stable, you will be allowed to hold your child immediately for at least a few minutes. The baby will be brought to obstetrics room eventually for a more thorough examination.
Outside of the Delivery Room
If you aren’t present for the physical birth of your child, then you will likely be waiting in an adjacent room and given regular updates on the labor process.
After birth, the baby will be given a quick examination, then will be brought to the parents immediately for a first look at their new child. Similar to the in-room delivery process, the baby is returned to the obstetrics room for a more thorough exam.
If you’ve signed a pre-birth order, then the hospital will grant you full guardianship right away. You can work out with your surrogate whether you’d like her to spend time with the baby post-birth to help them transition to the physical world.
Giving the Gift of Life to the IPs
The surrogate, baby, and IPs will likely be brought to the recovery unit simultaneously a few hours after birth. This gives IPs the opportunity to bond with their baby, and the surrogate time to rest and recover.
The moment when your surrogate physically hands you your child is indescribable. Some surrogates specifically ask the nurses to be the one to hand you your child, as a symbolic gesture.
It can be emotionally overwhelming, a stunning love for both the woman who gave you your child and the baby you’ve worked so hard for.
The baby will be given to the IPs when both surrogate and child are physically ready for it.
Did you go traditional or gestational? Speak with your lactation specialist about whether your surrogate should breastfeed or you should. There are ways to medically prepare your body to breastfeed.
Skin-to-skin contact between baby and IP is highly recommended. Not only will this benefit baby’s immune system, but it will reinforce a physical bond. Be sure to maximize physical comfort as soon as possible post-delivery.
Finally, it’s important to visit your surrogate post-birth if you would like to maintain what was a miraculous relationship, allowing you to expand your family.
Send her flowers. Express your gratitude. Show your surrogate ongoing support. While you’ve been given the incredible gift of life, she still has weeks of recovery post-birth to endure.