How to support your surrogate during the pregnancy.
It can be difficult to support someone through something that you know nothing about or at least don’t have first-hand experience with. Single dads and gay men tend to have the most difficult time supporting their surrogates during the process. I have found that it’s mainly because they don’t want to seem like they know better when they have never been through it themselves so they are more hands off. My first intended parents were gay men and they more than once expressed to me that they trust me because I have been through it and they haven’t. They didn’t overstep or mansplain which I very much appreciated.
There are some great ways to show your surrogate support without micro-managing her. You can start by reading pregnancy and birth books. Ask your surrogate if she has any favorites. Reading her favorite books can give you insight into what she expects or needs from you during the pregnancy and birth. My favorite book that I have read during every one of my pregnancies is: “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth”. My husband read it during my first pregnancy and he got a lot of good tips on how to support me during the labor. There’s also some great books written specifically for the birth partner. Even if you aren’t planning to be your surrogate’s birth partner, it will give you good tips on how to be supportive while you are in the birthing room. One that was recommended to me is: “The Birth Partner.”
If your surrogate is up for it, you could attend birth classes with them. If you live far from your surrogate, you can video chat into the class. Some surrogates, like myself, might not be interested in this but just asking her shows that you are willing to be supportive during the pregnancy. By the time I was a surrogate, it was my third birth and I had no interest in taking another birthing class. You can also attend surrogacy support groups or talk with your friends who have given birth to get ideas of how to support your surrogate.
I love it when my intended parents attend appointments with me. My IPs have lived in different states during both of my surrogacy journeys but having them at appointments makes it feel less lonely. At my last midwife appointment I expressed that I was having problems with hemorrhoids…TMI for some of you but if you are going through the surrogacy process or just pregnancy, this is something that will probably come up. Within a few days, my IPs sent me a supplement that my midwife suggested. Little things like that make me feel supported. Going to appointments with your surrogate will help prepare you for birth and make you all more comfortable with each other.
If your surrogate is having a hard time emotionally or physically, just be there for her. Ask her what you can do to help. A lot of surrogates are givers and not receivers and they have a hard time asking for help, offer it or just give it anyway. Send her a gift card for a massage or send her a handwritten card expressing how much you appreciate her. If you are long distance, offer to travel to her for an appointment and spend some time supporting her and lifting her up. Carrying someone else’s baby can be an emotional roller coaster, she needs to feel supported.
I am 20 weeks into my second surrogacy journey. This time my intended parents are a heterosexual couple that have a 5 year old that the intended mother was able to carry. It has been a completely different experience having an IM that has gone through pregnancy and birth vs. having gay IPs. She knows how hard pregnancy can be and is very sympathetic. She has suggested things that helped her during pregnancy that have now helped me during this pregnancy. It feels like she is in this with me. So, to all you intended parents wondering how to support your surrogate, just be there for her. Make sure she knows you are there for her and that you appreciate her. She is giving you the best gift you will ever receive.