A Surrogate’s Guide to Changing Policies & Recommendations
Beginning or continuing the surrogacy process as a gestational surrogate is still very possible for you, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there will be a few changes. Social distancing and safety measures may affect your hospital experience, interactions with the intended parents, prenatal checkups and surrogacy-related medical appointments, and more.
It can be upsetting to have your carefully made plans and excitement marred by an experience that isn’t quite what you imagined. But the health and safety of everyone involved, especially you and the baby, are what come first.
Here are some changes you may notice as you move forward in your journey as a gestational surrogate, as well as quite a few things that won’t be changed by COVID-19:
Your Time with Your Intended Parents
If your match is long-distance and the intended parents live in another city or state, many of your day-to-day interactions wouldn’t have been in-person anyway. Gestational surrogates and intended parents most commonly communicate through phone calls, video chats, texts or emails.
However, due to social distancing measures, you and the parents may not be able to have as much face-to-face bonding as other surrogate-parent partnerships might have had before COVID-19. Do your best to get to know one another and build that connection through other means — start a casual Words With Friends game with one another, swap a couple recipes to try out or send them letters “from” their baby throughout your pregnancy in addition to your virtual conversations. It can be fun, and you’ll hopefully get to know one another a bit better, even when you can’t meet in person.
Having the intended parents present for the baby’s birth is one of the most rewarding moments for a gestational surrogate and one of the most exciting moments for the new parents. But some hospitals may have policies about how many people can be in the room with you during your labor and delivery. This may mean that only one intended parent may accompany you, or neither of them, so that your spouse can be with you. This is something that we’ll touch on more momentarily, but that you’ll want to ask your hospital about in advance.
Your Prenatal Medical Care and Surrogacy-Related Medical Appointments
Contact your OB-GYN and your fertility clinic to ask about their COVID-19 policies. Do they prefer minor check-ins to be conducted virtually? Are you allowed to bring the intended parents or your spouse? If they do have new policies regarding COVID-19 prevention, you’ll want to know about it before the intended parents or your spouse come with you to these appointments and have to wait in the car!
Of course, in-person visits will be unavoidable throughout your surrogacy process. For these, you’ll want to bring a mask and sanitize your hands before and after your appointment. The doctor’s office or clinic will likely take your temperature before you enter, in addition to other precautions.
Your Hospital and Delivery Experience
Hospital policy regarding labor and delivery during this time will vary. Some hospitals, for example, will limit the number of visitors you may have during your labor, delivery and recovery. At other hospitals, they’ll simply take more precautions — like taking the temperature of visitors and asking that everyone wash their hands and wear masks.
In more extreme situations, surrogates have had to choose just one intended parent to have with them in the delivery room, or just the surrogate’s spouse was in the room to support them. This can be tough for everyone involved if your hospital has this type of policy. While American Surrogacy hasn’t encountered this yet, policies simply depend on the hospital and the rapidly changing pandemic situation.
Check in with your American Surrogacy specialist and your intended parents. Together, you’ll communicate with your chosen hospital to determine any changes that might need to be made to your ideal birth plan. It’s best to talk about these plans in advance, so you aren’t caught off guard when you go to the hospital and discover that they have a new COVID-related policy that affects you.
Your Precautionary Measures for Health and Safety
You already know how to stay healthy and safe when you’re planning to become pregnant (or are pregnant), even before the coronavirus became a factor. And everyone, not just pregnant women, should be taking appropriate measures to reduce and slow the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home as much as possible, social distancing, frequently washing hands and wearing masks when around others.
But now, carefully adhering to preventative measures regarding COVID-19 is especially important for gestational surrogates and the people around them.
The CDC states that “pregnant people appear to have the same risk of COVID-19 as adults who are not pregnant. However, much remains unknown. We do know that pregnant people have had a higher risk of severe illness when infected with viruses that are similar to COVID-19, as well as other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza.
“We also know that pregnant people have changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections. Therefore, if you are pregnant, it is always important for you to try to protect yourself from illnesses whenever possible.”
As for increased risks to newborns, very little is known at this time, but they may be more likely to suffer from severe illness stemming from the virus, similar to pregnant people.
The main takeaway: Protect yourself from illness just as you would with any pregnancy, but continue to:
- Stay home when possible
- Wash your hands often
- Practice social distancing
- Wear your mask when around anyone outside of your “quarantine bubble”
- Remind your immediate family members to do the same in order to protect one another
You’ll need to be cautious about who you, and your family, come into contact with. Your family will need to practice the same safety measures as you to prevent them from contracting the virus and potentially spreading it to you. You probably aren’t at any greater risk than anyone else, but everyone should take reasonable precautions, regardless.
You can’t keep yourself in a bubble throughout the entirety of your surrogacy journey, and no one is expecting you to do so. However, being extra vigilant about reducing your exposure and increasing hygiene steps can help mitigate the risk of contracting or spreading the virus during your surrogacy experience.
If you have any questions about how COVID-19 may affect you as a surrogate — including through IVF, pregnancy, delivery and more — don’t hesitate to contact your American Surrogacy specialist. Remember: Becoming a surrogate or continuing your surrogacy process is still safe, as long as you continue to practice the prescribed basic health and safety measures.