Intended parents often have a lot to worry about during the surrogacy process — whether they will find the right surrogate, whether their embryos will implant, whether their surrogate will have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
But, there’s another worry that some intended parents have after the whole journey is done — whether they will be able to bond with their baby born via surrogacy.
Every new parent has fears of not being able to bond with their new children, but those parents who have not physically carried their children through pregnancy appear to have an instant disadvantage in this process. Biological connection or pregnancy doesn’t make a family but, for many, it can help ease the transition into parenthood.
If you’re worried about properly bonding with your child after they are born, preparation is key. Your surrogacy specialist can always offer suggestions for your stay at the hospital and following time at home to help you feel more comfortable. Remember: You are not alone in feeling the way you do.
Here are a few tips to help you bond with your child after they come into the world:
1. Use skin-to-skin contact.
The best way to bond with your child occurs immediately after birth. When babies are born, they crave contact with a strong, warm human body to feel safe and secure. Having skin-to-skin contact with your child directly after they are born is the easiest and quickest way to catch up on the bonding you didn’t have during their in-utero development.
Skin-to-skin contact has been linked with certain benefits:
- Reduces an infant’s responses to painful stimuli (vaccinations, blood sampling, cord-cutting)
- Calms babies and allows them to sleep faster during skin-to-skin contact
- Improves physiological benefits such as improved thermoregulation, cardiopulmonary stabilization, blood glucose levels, enhanced oxygen saturation levels and more
- Decreases separation anxiety
- And more
Skin-to-skin contact should be a part of your surrogate’s delivery plan. This way, both parties will know what to expect once the child is delivered. Many experts recommend post-birth skin-to-skin contact to last as long as possible (at least an hour).
Physical touch will remain an important part of bonding with your child in the weeks and months to come, as well.
2. Take advantage of feeding time.
Another great opportunity for bonding with a new baby can be found during feeding time — especially if you are an intended mother who breastfeeds her child.
That’s right; intended mothers can breastfeed just as any woman who carried her own child can. It will require a certain medical protocol with your doctor, but you can share this experience with your child born via surrogacy, if you desire.
Breastfeeding gives the added benefit of skin-on-skin contact but, if you choose not to breastfeed, you can still share this contact while bottle-feeding your baby. Make sure to also share plenty of eye contact during this time, and limit distractions to have as effective a bonding experience as possible.
3. Frequently communicate and interact with your baby.
It’s important that your baby become familiar with your voice, especially because they’ve spent their entire time in utero listening to your surrogate’s voice. It may feel foolish at first, but try to narrate your activities when you’re around your child. They will automatically pay attention and be comforted, recognizing your role as their caregiver and parent.
At the same time, play with your baby every day. Not only will this encourage your baby’s brain development, but it will also provide a fun bonding experience. When you play up-close with your child, they will start to recognize your face and mimic your actions.
4. Pay close attention to your child’s needs.
It may seem obvious, but anticipating and responding to your baby’s needs will help you bond with them in a way nothing else will. After all, this is the mark of a good parent. Meeting your child’s needs will help both you and them feel fulfilled in your roles and in your relationship with each other.
Don’t worry if you don’t anticipate your child’s needs correctly every time. Parenting is a learned skill, and it may take some time to recognize a “feed me” cry from an “I’m tired” cry. Your bond, as it grows, will help you be more confident in your parenting skills.
5. Remember that bonding may take some time.
Finally, be patient with yourself. You’ve probably heard lots of stories about parents having an “instant” connection with their child after birth, but it’s totally normal to take some time to properly bond with your child. A baby is a big adjustment in your life, and being a parent can be overwhelming at first.
If you don’t feel an instant connection with your child, it doesn’t make you a bad parent. It just makes you human. Follow the suggestions from your surrogacy specialist and your pediatrician for proper bonding, and you will feel like the parent you’re meant to be in no time.
Remember: You Don’t Have to Wait Until Your Baby is Born!
Just because someone else is carrying your baby doesn’t mean that there is no bonding you can do during pregnancy. In fact, there are a few common steps that intended parents take to create a bond with their child before they even enter the world:
- Talking to their baby, or having their surrogate play recordings of their voice during pregnancy
- Being involved in important milestones, such as ultrasounds
- Providing a transitional item for your surrogate during pregnancy
- Accustoming your child to your home environment with certain music, smells and more
Remember: Your surrogacy specialist has helped many intended parents through this process, and she is available to help you through your bonding before and after birth. Don’t hesitate to reach out at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or online to receive some more suggestions for building a bond with your new baby.