A birth plan is a roadmap that guides you and your hospital staff through your labor and birthing preferences. When you’re a gestational surrogate, a birth plan tailored to your situation is especially important, because it will help everyone navigate through the specifics of a surrogacy birth.
Once you’ve established your birth plan, your American Surrogacy specialist will make sure that your hospital and your intended parents have a copy. The plan that you provide to the hospital will serve to prevent confusion and awkwardness during your delivery process.
Remember, when you work with American Surrogacy, your specialist will help you create this document. Take a sneak peek at some of those questions she’ll ask you during the planning process:
Cover the Non-Surrogacy-Specific Labor and Delivery Questions First
Your birth plan should always include details that aren’t specific to a surrogacy birth. Solidify the basics of your birth plan by asking yourself (and your intended parents) these questions:
- What arrangements do you need to make for childcare, pet care, or other responsibilities at home or work while you’re in labor and recovering after birth?
- Where do you want to deliver?
- What kind of labor do you want — in a hospital bed, a birthing tub, another alternative location?
- Do you plan on having a doula or birthing coach present?
- What positions do you prefer to help the labor — walking, squatting, standing, on your hands and knees?
- What kinds of medications are you comfortable with? What medications would you prefer to avoid?
- What additional pain management tactics do you prefer — massage, meditation, breathing, hydrotherapy?
- How are you going to stay hydrated — ice chips, IV, sips from a water bottle?
- Are there measures you’d like to take to prevent an episiotomy when possible?
- Is there anything that the doctor should know if you need a cesarean section, or anything you’d like to request if that procedure should become necessary?
- Is there anything that would make you feel more comfortable — music, items from home, certain clothing?
As a surrogate, you’ve delivered before, so drawing on your past experiences will likely be helpful. If you and the parents are planning on a “non-traditional” birth, your plan should be tailored with that in mind.
Surrogacy-Specific Questions to Ask
It’s also important that start thinking about some questions specific to a surrogacy birth, including:
What do you need to pack?
You probably have an idea of what to pack in a “go bag” for a standard birth, but there are a few additional things that will be helpful for a surrogacy birth — primarily paperwork!
Who needs to be on the hospital visitor’s list? Who will be with you in the delivery room?
You’ll likely want your spouse with you for support (if applicable). But also ask yourself: When do you want your children to visit? Do you want anyone else to stop by?
Intended parents usually accompany their surrogate in the delivery room so they can be there for the birth of their baby. It’s good to consider what you’ll do if you can only have one person in the delivery room, as sometimes happens in the event of C-section deliveries. Which intended parent would be there with you? Would you want your spouse there instead? This may be a topic you’ll want to discuss with the intended parents.
Does the hospital have copies of documentation that identifies the intended parents?
Your surrogacy specialist will coordinate with your hospital to make sure they have everything they need to grant your intended parents access to you and their baby. Filing documentation well in advance and following up with your doctors and nursing staff will help keep you, the intended parents and the baby from being separated from or confused for one another.
How involved will the intended parents be?
An intended parent’s involvement in labor and delivery will depend on individual relationships and comfort levels. Some surrogacy partners are unanimously excited for this to be a “team effort,” while others are content with the intended parents taking on a few select roles in the experience. No two surrogacy partnerships and birth experiences are alike.
Therefore, make sure you discuss with your intended parents how involved they’d like to be in the birth of their baby.
Who will need to be granted access to see medical records of the delivery?
After childbirth, the baby’s pediatrician will benefit from having your prenatal and delivery records. Because many of these records include information about your own health, you may need to coordinate with your obstetrician and the hospital to grant permission to the pediatrician’s office, the intended parents, or their insurance providers.
What do you plan on doing with your breast milk?
What are the intended parents’ plans for feeding their baby? Pumping breast milk can be time-consuming and tiring, but having access to your breast milk can mean a lot to new parents. If you’re willing and they’re interested, you could consider pumping for the family (with compensation) or you could donate your supply to a local milk bank. You could also talk to your physician about stopping your milk supply after the delivery.
It’s good to consider your options in advance; that way, you can decide what you’re comfortable with and make any necessary preparations.
How do you all feel about birth photography or video?
Labor and delivery is a very intimate experience for everyone involved, but it’s also incredibly beautiful and life-changing. Some surrogates and intended parents want to document aspects of their shared experience with photos or video. This can be a special keepsake for you and the parents to remember your journey together, but also someday for the child involved, as they learn about the love that surrounded them on the day they were born.
These photos could be taken by a professional photographer or someone who is there to support you during labor.
Be Prepared to Be Flexible with Your Birth Plan
As you know, babies don’t always adhere to our timelines and preferences! Even when you’ve mapped out every detail in your birth plan, something unexpected may happen during your pregnancy or labor, and you may have to change your plan.
Always listen to the advice of your doctor, and be ready to do what’s best for your health. That may mean sacrificing some things you and the intended parents had planned for, but your wellbeing and the wellbeing of the baby are most important.
Keep in mind that this might be the intended parents’ first child; you, having experienced childbirth before, may have a better idea of what to expect than they do.
Your American Surrogacy specialist can work with you and the intended parents to create a birth plan that honors your wishes, as well as coordinate with the hospital and help guide these conversations between you and the parents.
You can always contact American Surrogacy at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) if you’d like to learn more about pursuing surrogacy or if you need help creating your birth plan with your intended parents.