It’s no secret the coronavirus pandemic has utterly changed some of life’s biggest moments. If you’re having a child via surrogacy, it’s no different — you may not be able to attend all doctor’s appointments and even the birth of your own child. And, when it comes time to bring your child home, the stress and uncertainty continues.
So, how can you safely travel home with your baby during the COVID-19 pandemic?
While every person’s situation is unique, we’ve gathered a few tips here for you to keep in mind. Remember, you can always contact your surrogacy specialist anytime for suggestions and guidance as you create your travel plan.
It’s rare for intended parents to live in the same city as their surrogate, so there will often be some travel involved when bringing your child home from the hospital. Just how far you have to go will play a role in whether you choose to fly or drive home.
It can be tempting to put this decision off until the last minute, but don’t! Knowing what you’ll do ahead of time can help you plan, in order to keep your family as safe as possible.
Whether you choose to fly or drive, always follow these general tips.
1. Talk to your pediatrician.
Your pediatrician is your best source of information during this time. They likely have tips and suggestions for keeping your infant safe during your travel home. Don’t be afraid to have an ongoing conversation with them about your child’s health, any specific concerns and their recommendations for travel.
Your pediatrician will likely give you information and ideas you hadn’t previously thought of. They’re dealing with many similar situations as yours as babies are born across the country, and they will probably have a list of do’s and don’ts for you to follow.
2. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize.
Just as you should wear a mask while traveling, minimize the surfaces that you touch — and, for those you can’t avoid, make sure to sanitize. Pack sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer; wipe down every surface before you touch it and sanitize your hands afterward. Your baby has a weak immune system, and it’s your responsibility to protect them from any germs or virus droplets that might be transferred to them.
3. Think and plan ahead.
Make a list of your supplies — baby formula, feeding supplies, food and drink for your family — and make one big stop at the store before traveling. While it can seem impossible to anticipate your every need during your travel, do your best. Having what you need ahead of time will minimize your stops and contact with other people, as well as take some stress off of your shoulders.
Don’t forget to speak with your surrogacy specialist about any documentation you may need, too. Traveling with an infant may require certain paperwork, and your specialist and attorney will ensure you get what you need early on.
If You’re Flying
If you’ve decided a short flight is better for your physical and mental health than a long road trip, take these precautions to keep your family safe.
1. Know the airline’s policies.
Some airlines have specific policies for flying with infants, and others have new policies due to the COVID outbreak. This may involve wearing a mask or social distancing in seats, so call ahead of time to find out. Mention that you have an infant and see what allowances they can make for your family.
You might also need a doctor’s note or similar documentation to fly with a small child.
2. Use a barrier over your infant’s seat.
Infants can’t wear masks like everyone else, so do the best you can to provide a protective covering for your child. As tempting as it can be to show off your baby to everyone, cover their car seat with a blanket as soon as you arrive in the airport and refrain from removing it unless absolutely necessary. This will protect your child from virus droplets circulating in the air of the plane.
3. Ask to be seated away from others.
Many airlines will try to maintain social distancing among passengers. If yours doesn’t make that allowance, speak with a flight attendant to ask to be moved once all passengers have boarded the flight. If your flight is full, consider asking the airline representatives if you can be moved to another flight with fewer passengers.
If You’re Driving
If you’ve only got a short way to drive home — or you’ve decided you prefer the controlled environment of your car — you’ll still need to take some extra steps.
1. Minimize your stops.
The more you stop, the more you will be in contact with people — and the more exposure you will potentially get. So, plan ahead — pack trash bags and diaper pails for roadside changes, and make sandwiches to get you through the day. Some new parents who have taken this trip have only stopped for gas and bathroom breaks, so talk with your driving partner (if you have one) and make a plan that works for you.
2. Pack your food and baby supplies early.
Babies often don’t come on a schedule, even when there’s a global pandemic going on. Try to have your road trip supplies prepped as early as possible; that way, you can head home as soon as possible after discharge and reduce exposure from buying all your supplies later.
Add these supplies to your list:
- Gloves to use only when pumping gas (to be thrown away immediately)
- Gloves to use while stopping at rest stop and gas station bathrooms
- Snacks and bottled water to eliminate the need to stop for food
- Hand sanitizer and sanitization wipes, readily accessible in your car
- A small bag filled with overnight essentials, for any stops you need to make
- Baby formula and sanitized bottles and nipples
- Diapers and baby wipes (as well as a sealed container for trash, to minimize stops)
3. Set a schedule.
It can be tempting to try to drive straight home as soon as you’re able. But doing so can tire out you, your spouse and your child — making it more likely that you’ll make mistakes or put your family in danger from exhaustion and fatigue.
Instead, set a schedule with your driving partner ahead of time. How long will each person drive at a time? Don’t forget that infants typically need to be fed every few hours — and that your child will need comforting and changing just as often (or more). It can be frustrating to stop so frequently, but remember that your child’s safety is of the utmost importance.
Plan out your trip ahead of time with this timeline in mind. If you have to stay somewhere overnight, try to find an Airbnb or similar rental where contact with other people is minimal. And, of course, before doing anything else, sanitize that space upon arrival.
Remember, if you have questions or concerns about traveling to and from the hospital, reach out to your surrogacy specialist for advice and suggestions.