As a surrogate, you know you’ve been entrusted with the most important task possible: growing and safeguarding another person’s unborn baby. So you want to make sure that the baby has everything he or she needs through you.
Here are eight ways to stay healthy and enjoy your pregnancy as a surrogate:
1. Stay on Top of Your OBGYN Appointments
Once your pregnancy is confirmed, you’ll likely be checking in with your OB more frequently as a surrogate than you would with a standard pregnancy, and you’ll probably get tired of the doctor’s office at some point. But each appointment is incredibly important for the tracking of your health as well as the baby’s, so stay diligent.
One thing you do to make your OB appointments less routine: invite the intended parents. Even if they can’t make it, sending them a quick update, photo, or video chatting them after each appointment would probably be greatly appreciated! The months of waiting during your pregnancy can be tough for intended parents, but inclusion in your pregnancy experience (which some intended parents will never experience for themselves) can help makes things feel more “real” for them.
2. Don’t Skimp on Healthy Meals and Hydration
If you’re busy raising children of your own and going about your life in addition to carrying someone else’s baby, grabbing fast food is a lot more tempting than cooking something healthy and fresh. However, making sure you (and the baby) have plenty of protein, fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis will keep you both healthy and can’t be overemphasized.
Dehydration is the leading cause of premature labor and can harm both you and the baby. Water is also a key way that critical vitamins and minerals are transferred to the baby. It’s incredibly important that you drink plenty of water, so try carrying a reusable water bottle with you to remind yourself to stay hydrated.
Make sure you also know what foods and drinks to avoid when pregnant, and be careful to steer clear. Check in with your doctor if you need any tips for eating healthier, staying hydrated, avoiding unhealthy foods or other nutrition advice.
3. Take Your Vitamins
As a surrogate, you may already be tired of taking medications. But prenatal vitamins ensure you and the baby are getting everything you both need. It’s important to note that vitamins are intended to be taken alongside a healthy diet and shouldn’t be used as a replacement for one. Some women anecdotally experience forgetfulness as a pregnancy symptom, so setting a daily alarm to take your vitamins and any other OB-approved medication can be helpful.
4. Get Plenty of Rest
Your body is working extra hard right now, so try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night, and take naps when you can, if you need them. After the first trimester, try to sleep on your side. Sleeping on your back can limit blood supply to the baby and can leave you feeling lightheaded and weak. If you’re having a hard time sleeping comfortably as your pregnancy progresses, try a pregnancy pillow or prenatal massages (with your doctor’s approval) if you’re feeling achy.
5. Keep Your Stress Low
The link between a mom’s (or gestational carrier, in your case) cortisol levels and its effect on the baby is pretty strong. Your own physical health is also tied to your emotions, so an important part of keeping both you and the baby physically healthy is focusing on your emotional health.
Pregnancy often comes with plenty of heightened emotions and mood swings, and with the added pressures of surrogacy, you might be feeling overwhelmed. Talk to your surrogacy specialist or another qualified counselor, and try to take plenty of time to recharge, breathe and relax.
6. Exercise Regularly
Staying active will help you sleep better and manage your stress, but it’ll also help ease pregnancy symptoms, improve mood fluctuations and even help your labor and delivery progress more smoothly. It doesn’t always sound appealing to get out and exercise if you’re feeling very pregnant and uncomfortable, but it can actually help. Aim for 30 minutes of low-impact physical activity every day.
7. Keep a Journal or Scrapbook of Your Pregnancy
Someday, this child will probably love to learn about the time you spent together, and his or her parents won’t be able to tell that part of the story. It can be fun to write about your surrogacy journey in letters or a journal, scrapbook your experience with some photos, or take any combination of creative approaches. This can be a fun way to tell him or her about your time together, your time with their parents and how excited you are to meet them and see them grow up with their family.
8. Include the Intended Parents in Your Pregnancy Experiences
If you’re not sure if or when this is appropriate in your situation, you can always ask your surrogate specialist for advice. But generally, most intended parents are thrilled to be included in your side of the experience to whatever extent you feel comfortable.
Many intended parents love to see sonograms or pictures of your growing belly. They’d probably like to receive texts about how you’re feeling, the way their baby is kicking, or invitations to your doctor appointments. If you live relatively nearby, having them stop by for a quick visit can be a nice way for you both to catch up. You can even help the parents and baby jumpstart their bond by playing recordings of the parents’ voices. Again, this is all dependent on the relationship you share with your intended parents and what you all feel comfortable with, but finding even small ways to include the intended parents in your pregnancy can mean a lot!