As a surrogate, you have the right to be as comfortable as possible during your labor, including having all the support you need before, during and after your hospital stay. While you will receive much of that support from your surrogacy agency and your intended parents, you may also wish to consider hiring a doula for your surrogacy process.
A doula is a trained professional who typically helps pregnant mothers and expectant fathers through the delivery process. In surrogacy, a doula provides services to both the intended parents and their surrogate. There are generally two different kinds of doulas: a birth doula and a postpartum doula. Some doulas act as both.
What a Doula Does
While every doula’s specialties are different, their main purpose in surrogacy is to provide more specialized support for intended parents and surrogates, in addition to the general support you will receive from your surrogacy agency. You will have the chance to decide with your doula what kind of support you want, but it typically includes:
- For Surrogates: Prenatal support and education, birth preparation, support and guidance throughout labor, counseling during postpartum emotions and issues like pumping breastmilk and post-birth recovery
- For Intended Parents: Childcare education (like classes for newborn care, hygiene, safety and for parent preparation) and postpartum, in-home support for childcare and induced lactation
Doulas who specifically deal with the surrogacy process also provide support for the relationship between the surrogate and the intended parents. Beyond coordinating birthing preferences and preparing both for the labor process, a doula takes certain steps to help involve the intended parents in the labor process. They understand that surrogacy is a partnership and that the partnership does not end during the hospital stay. In fact, some doulas are so touched by the surrogacy process that they become surrogates themselves. When you hire an experienced doula for your surrogacy, you will know you’re in good hands.
Deciding if a Doula is Right for You
Doulas have many advantages for both intended parents and surrogates, but it’s usually surrogates who suggest hiring a doula for the labor process. However, the inclusion of a doula in the labor and postpartum processes of your surrogacy is a decision that must be made by both the intended parents and the surrogate. After all, surrogacy is an intimate process, and including a doula must only be done if both parties are comfortable.
If you’re considering including a doula in your surrogacy process, your surrogacy specialist can help mediate this conversation between you and the intended parents. It’s important to do diligent research on why you think a doula is right for you if you’ve never used one before, and your specialist can also help you understand the pros and cons of using this professional. Intended parents may be more comfortable if you seek out a doula that is specifically trained in surrogacy services to maximize the benefits for both parties.
Another thing to consider is the cost of a doula. Even with a doula who specifically works with surrogacy cases, the majority of her services are tailored to the surrogate during the labor process. Therefore, not all intended parents may be comfortable paying for this extra service if they’re not familiar with the benefits. If having a doula be a part of your labor process is important to you, talk with your surrogacy specialist about how to bring up the costs of this service with the intended parents.
How to Find the Doula that’s Right for You
When you want to include a doula in your labor process, it’s important to do your research before presenting this idea to your intended parents. This means finding a professional that meets your preferences for services provided and the associated cost. Typically, a birth doula costs between $1,000 and $2,000, and a postpartum doula can cost anywhere from $35 to $60 an hour.
Many surrogates work with surrogacy-specific doulas to receive labor and postpartum care that’s tailored to their situation. These doulas should be willing to speak to you about their services before you commit to hiring them. Some professionals to consider include:
In addition, your surrogacy specialist may be able to help you find a local doula who meets your needs.
Including a doula in your surrogacy process is a personal decision to make, and it will not be right for everyone. However, if you’re interested in these services, start your research and let your surrogacy specialist know as early as possible — to best coordinate the inclusion of this professional in your surrogacy process.