It’s no secret — pregnancy is hard. You are often emotionally and physically exhausted along the way, and it’s completely normal for you to experience feelings of sadness, anger or frustration during these nine months. In most cases, those hard parts are all worth it when you get to bring your little one home.
But, in surrogacy, it’s a bit of a different situation. All of the discomfort that you go through during your pregnancy is to help someone else become a parent. While you are probably just as excited for them to meet their baby as you were to meet yours once upon a time, it can also cast a different shade on the emotions that you feel during your pregnancy.
It’s 100 percent normal to have conflicting feelings while you are pregnant with your intended parents’ baby. Remember that your surrogacy specialist will be there for you whenever you need her support, and she can guide you through the more difficult emotions of your surrogacy, if you need it.
But, how do you know when your pregnancy feelings are a sign of something more serious? Is it possible to experience depression during pregnancy, instead of the postpartum depression you hear more about?
The answer is yes. Learn more about this important topic below.
Why You May Be Depressed as a Surrogate
There are many reasons why women experience confusing feelings of sadness, grief, frustration and more during pregnancy. This process requires a lot from a woman, and she may often feel like her experience is not validated by those who have never been through the pregnancy journey themselves. She may be tired from the everyday responsibilities she usually deals with, and the stressors of pregnancy only exacerbate those challenges.
A surrogate pregnancy often causes the same emotions, but they are compounded by the fact that a pregnant woman is not carrying a child for herself — but for someone else. While this can actually be a source of relief for some surrogates, it can make things more emotionally complicated for others. A woman may feel even worse knowing that she is struggling through all these challenges without a “tangible” end result for her family (aside from surrogate compensation).
It can also be grating for a surrogate to hear the same insensitive comments and questions over and over during her pregnancy, or to feel like her family is losing out on time together during her later stages of her pregnancy. There is no “right” or “wrong” reason for you to feel depressed or upset during pregnancy; it all depends on your personal situation.
Signs of Antenatal Depression
While it’s 100 percent normal to experience “baby blues” both before and after pregnancy, there can come a point where the normal sad feelings of pregnancy become something more. Just as you should when you were pregnant with own child, you should pay close attention to your mental health during your surrogate pregnancy, too.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms for two weeks or longer, it’s a sign that something may not be right with your mental health:
- Persistent sadness
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Difficulty concentrating
- Recurring thoughts of death, suicide or hopelessness
- Loss of interest in activities that you usually enjoy
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Change in eating habits
If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or the child you are carrying, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline right away: 1-800-273-8255.
What to Do Next
If you think you are coping with depression during your surrogate pregnancy, a lot of thoughts may go through your head. In addition to worrying about your own family, you may also worry about how the intended parents will react to this news. You may worry that they’ll blame you or that this situation will irreparably harm your relationship.
The only thing that you should be concerned with right now is your mental health and the health of the child growing inside of you. Do not hide what you are feeling for fear of backlash from your intended parents; they only want what is best for you, which means getting you the help you need during this vulnerable time. You are not alone; statistics suggest that between 14 and 23 percent of women suffer from some form of depression during pregnancy.
Your first point of contact if you are worried about your potential for antenatal depression will always be your doctor. They can test your physical status to ensure there are no underlying physical conditions that may be causing these symptoms. Your doctor is also the only one who can diagnose clinical antenatal depression.
Whether you are diagnosed with clinical depression or not, remember that your surrogacy specialist is always here to support you, and that your feelings are still just as real. Our specialists are very aware of the emotions that gestational carriers go through, and they know that surrogacy is not always easy. You should never feel afraid to reach out to your specialist, whatever your situation, because she can help you get the support you need during this time. She can also help mediate a conversation with your intended parents about your feelings, if necessary.
No two pregnancies are the same, but feelings of depression during pregnancy are more common than you may think. Whatever your situation, you deserve to get the help you need during this time to keep yourself and the baby inside of you healthy and happy.