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As a first-time surrogate, you’re embarking on a journey that is both immensely rewarding and uniquely challenging. While surrogacy brings unparalleled joy and a sense of fulfillment, it also comes with its own set of emotional effects, particularly when it comes to finding closure after giving birth. Your role in bringing life into the world for another family is a beautiful, selfless act, but it’s natural to face mixed emotions as you navigate this path.

Since the first successful gestational surrogate pregnancy in 1986, surrogacy has evolved, but the emotional journey of a surrogate remains a deeply personal experience. At Joy of Life, we understand these nuances intimately. Our team, made up of former surrogates and intended parents, has firsthand knowledge of the rollercoaster of emotions you might face, especially when it’s time to part with the baby you’ve nurtured for nine months.

If you’re a first-time surrogate, this article is specifically for you — to guide you through the emotional effects of surrogacy as well as the process of finding closure post-delivery. We’ll explore the challenges unique to your experience and offer practical tips to help you navigate this emotional landscape. From preparing yourself mentally for the postpartum period to building a supportive network around you, our insights aim to make your journey as a surrogate as smooth and fulfilling as possible. Let us help you manage the emotional intricacies of surrogacy with grace and strength, ensuring you emerge from this experience feeling empowered and at peace.

1. Know the Emotions You’re Likely to Experience Throughout Your Surrogacy

A woman is hugging a child while holding an ultrasound image. Both are emotional, as indicated by the woman's closed eyes and tearful expression. They are indoors, and the woman is wearing a bright yellow sweater.

Carrying a child for another family for nine months is an emotionally charged experience for a surrogate mother, often leading to a profound connection with the unborn baby. This is why having a strong support system is crucial throughout the surrogacy journey, especially as it involves preparing to part with the baby after birth.

It’s important to recognize and accept the natural and instinctive bonding process during pregnancy, facilitated by hormones like oxytocin. However, unlike traditional motherhood, surrogacy includes preparation for a conscious and planned emotional detachment. Creating a plan ahead of time to address your emotional needs and ensuring you have the necessary support in place is essential. Acknowledge every emotion as valid and part of your journey.

Here are five common emotions surrogate mothers often experience during this transformative period:

  • Happiness and Excitement: Many surrogates are driven by the desire to bring joy to families unable to conceive. This journey brings fulfillment and excitement, marked by pregnancy milestones and the creation of new life. The anticipation of ultimately introducing the baby to its parents adds a unique dimension to this happiness. If you’re looking to be a surrogate mother, there’s no doubt that you’re compassionate and caring and will find reward and fulfillment in helping another family. There is excitement in growing new life, reaching each milestone and welcoming the baby together.
  • Anxiety: It’s normal for surrogate mothers to experience anxiety. Concerns may arise about the birth process, medical procedures and the well-being of the child you have carried for the last 9 months. Support from loved ones and the intended parents is crucial in managing these anxieties.
  • Sadness: This emotion is prevalent in pregnancy and delivery. Often referred to as postpartum blues. Your hormone levels drop significantly after giving birth, and that womb connection is no longer there.
  • Relief: After delivery, many surrogates feel a sense of relief. This emotion is intertwined with the understanding that the responsibility of raising the child lies with the intended parents, allowing the surrogate to focus on her recovery and personal well-being.
  • Empowerment: The act of carrying a child for someone else and then successfully completing the journey by handing the baby to its intended parents is an empowering experience. It blends the physical and emotional aspects of pregnancy with the altruistic act of aiding another family.

2. Have an Emotional Support System

Two women and a pregnant woman share a joyful moment during an ultrasound appointment.

Emotional support is not just a crucial aspect but a necessity in a surrogate mother’s journey, particularly in the context of welcoming a baby into the world alongside their parents. While the physical aspects of pregnancy, like the growing belly, are often the focus of attention, the emotional changes, though significant, can be overlooked. Hormonal shifts and the required supplements for a healthy pregnancy lead to a spectrum of emotions. A surrogate commonly experiences various feelings, from being under the weather to more intense emotional states.

Understanding and addressing these emotional states is vital, especially as they play a significant role in the surrogate’s recovery, both mentally and physically. Surrogate mothers may go through fear, anxiety, body image concerns and mood swings. These emotions are a standard part of the surrogacy journey. Having a supportive environment that acknowledges and respects these emotional experiences is crucial. It not only ensures your well-being during the surrogacy journey but also aids in preparing you emotionally for the moment when you fulfill your role by giving the baby to the parents.

3. Understand Your Family’s Experience During the Process of Parting With the Baby

Having a strong family support system is a vital component of becoming a surrogate. It’s crucial to be aware of how your family might feel throughout the surrogacy journey, especially when it comes to the emotional aspect of giving the baby to the parents. Surrogacy is a deeply involving experience not only for you but also for your family, and their unwavering support is integral, particularly at the culmination of the journey when the baby is handed over to the intended parents.

Your family may experience a mix of emotions, including a sense of loss, after the baby’s birth. That feeling of loss is felt more acutely as they have been part of your surrogacy journey from the beginning and have developed a bond as well. Therefore, counseling may be something to consider as a key component for everyone involved. Participating in counseling sessions can help your family members process their feelings about your surrogacy journey and the eventual parting with the baby. These sessions offer guidance on how to provide support and empathy for your experience and help them manage any changes in mood and behavior that may arise from this unique situation.

4. Emotionally Prepare Yourself To Navigate the Final Stage of Your Surrogacy

An adult's hand gently cradles a baby's bare feet. The baby is wearing a floral outfit and a hospital identification band.

As you approach the conclusion of your surrogacy journey, you’ll find yourself at a deeply emotional and significant milestone: the birth of the baby and its transition to the waiting arms of the intended parents. This moment, often filled with mixed emotions, is a profound culmination of your selfless commitment.

While your surrogacy agreement will outline the practical details of this stage, such as delivery methods and who will be present in the delivery room, it’s the emotional preparation that truly guides you through this transition:

  • Understand and Manage Your Hormonal Changes: Remember that post-delivery, you’ll experience significant hormonal shifts, including drops in estrogen and progesterone. These can lead to heightened emotions, ranging from a sense of loss to profound joy. Recognizing these hormonal influences on your feelings is key to managing them effectively.
  • Set Healthy Emotional Boundaries: Effective communication with the intended parents is key to establishing healthy emotional boundaries. It’s important to discuss your expectations and concerns about the post-birth transition openly. This involves planning and communicating your wishes for the time immediately following delivery, including who you want in the delivery room and your first moments with the baby. Discuss what level of long-term involvement or contact you wish to maintain with the family and the child, which could range from no contact to periodic updates or visits, depending on mutual comfort levels.
  • Engage in Self-Care Practices: Self-care is more than a buzzword; it’s a crucial tool in your emotional toolkit. It’s important to take part in activities that rejuvenate your mind and body. This can include simple activities like enjoying a favorite hobby or indulging in a relaxing bath, as well as more structured practices like yoga, meditation or exercise. The aim is to create moments of peace and reflection, allowing you to process your feelings and find emotional balance.
  • Seek Support When Needed: If you find yourself overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance. Therapists, especially those experienced in surrogacy or postpartum issues, can offer valuable guidance. They provide a safe space to explore your feelings and develop strategies for coping. Joy of Life® can assist in connecting surrogates with experienced counselors and therapists who are familiar with the unique aspects of surrogacy.

This stage of your surrogacy journey, while challenging, is also a time to reflect on the incredible gift you’ve given. It’s a moment to celebrate your courage, generosity and the significant impact you’ve made on another family’s life. With the right emotional preparation and support, you can transition from this experience feeling empowered and fulfilled.

Want To Learn More About Surrogacy? Contact Us To Get Started With Joy of Life

If you’re intrigued by the idea of becoming a surrogate mother or have questions about what it entails, we’re here to help. 

At Joy of Life, we understand that deciding to become a surrogate is a significant step, and you might have many questions or need further clarification. That’s why our team is dedicated to providing you with comprehensive information, guidance and support throughout this life-changing process. 

Whether you’re curious about the requirements, the process or the emotional effects of surrogacy, our team is always ready to assist and guide you. Contact us today to discuss how you can start your surrogate mother journey with Joy of Life, or if you’re ready to become a surrogate mother, apply today.

Joy of Life

Author Joy of Life

Joy of Life is a compassionate surrogacy agency committed to creating life, fostering joy and nurturing dreams. We are experts in our field, with team members boasting extensive experience in the clinical, psychological and legal aspects of surrogacy. But more than that, we are a family — a community bound by the shared purpose of helping others realize the joy of parenthood.

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