Surrogacy is a beautiful gift to families that have struggled to have a child. There are so many aspects about surrogacy that are planned and thought out from the beginning. One of them can and should be is if the surrogate should have a doula for the birth. As a doula myself, I see the benefits and importance of having a doula. With surrogacy, there are even more benefits, because of how unique the situation is. Here are four reasons why a surrogate should still have a birth doula:
1. A doula supports both the surrogate AND the intended parent(s)
Birth doulas are hired by and work for their client, the birthing mother. In surrogacy, the birthing woman is the surrogate. Their job as a doula is to support the birthing woman in pregnancy, during birth, and postpartum. However, surrogacy is a little different. You have the woman who is delivering the baby, but you also have the parent(s) who are welcoming their child as well. Doulas can help support the intended parents (IPs) as well, by being a great resource. As a doula we help educate on what is happening during labor, helping answer questions during the process. As well as what happens postpartum. Often, this is the first time seeing a birth, and having a newborn for the IPs.
2. A doula still helps the surrogate prepare for labor and delivery
While the IPs will have wants and wishes for the baby’s care after birth, the surrogate will also have preferences for how the birth goes, as it is her body. A doula plans prenatal sessions with her to help educate and inform her about choices in birth, and to help her plan out her preferences. With surrogacy things can come up like who does skin-to-skin, and will she want the IPs in the laboring room the entire time, or just when she starts pushing. A doula can help navigate all these options before the birth. Your doula can also help both the surrogate and IPs plan the baby’s care, like tests and feeding, if that is something the IPs are wanting.
3. A doula focuses on the surrogate, while everyone else is focused on baby and the intended parents
In the birthing space, the provider is focused on the baby and surrogate’s health and well-being, first and foremost. The IPs, while they can be supportive of the surrogate, will most likely be focused on the baby, especially after delivery as they become new parents. Having a doula for the surrogate, helps her have that needed physical and emotional support doing birth, but also after delivery when she’ll need it most. Surrogacy is an unusual emotional and physical process, because you are delivering a baby, but essentially you will not bond with baby the same way (which helps with oxytocin after) and most likely will not nurse baby (which helps with contracting the uterine back down to size), and you go home without a baby to take care of.
4. A surrogate still needs postpartum support
Just because the surrogate does not return home with a baby, does not mean she does not need postpartum support. Her body just worked incredibly hard to deliver the baby, whether that is vaginally or by cesarean. Often, because there is no baby to take care of, she may try and get back to “normal” too quickly. Her body still needs time to heal, as does her body emotionally. Having a doula means having that postpartum support as well. Doulas typically do 1-2 postpartum sessions after birth. To make sure she is doing well both physically and emotionally. It’s a good idea to be able to talk with someone who was there, about what you went through and how you are feeling overall.
Hanan Webster, wife and mother of four, is a Birth Boot Camp certified birth doula and DONA trained postpartum doula at Treasured Birth Services. She is passionate about serving families, and when not indulged in her birth work, helps lead her local Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group. You can connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.