The journey of surrogacy doesn’t end with the birth of the child – after delivery and labor, surrogates start a new chapter of postpartum recovery, which typically takes anywhere from six to eight weeks. As a surrogate, postpartum self-care includes things you can do for yourself to help promote healing after giving birth to a child for the intended parents (IPs). Self-care is an essential component of the surrogacy process, helping to ensure a smooth transition and speedy recovery after delivery.
Tip #1. Attend Postpartum Follow-up Appointments
After delivery, you will receive instructions on follow-up appointments; these include a post-partum medical check-up to ensure you are recovering as expected. Follow-up appointments allow your doctor to evaluate your physical and emotional health after delivery. Incisions and stitches can be monitored, and complications or concerns can be addressed.
Tip #2. Get Adequate Rest
After giving birth, it’s essential to prioritize getting plenty of rest, allowing your body to heal. Depending on your healthcare provider’s advice, you may be temporarily restricted from participating in certain activities until your body begins to heal.
Tip #3. Eat a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is essential during the postpartum phase of childbirth to nourish and balance the body. Focus on foods rich in nutrients, such as bright-colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Be sure to stay well hydrated. Eating extra fiber can help prevent constipation after delivery. Eating foods high in probiotics, such as kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and other fermented foods, helps boost the body’s immune system and may help prevent infection. Your dietary concerns should be discussed with a healthcare professional or nutritionist.
Tip #4. Get a Moderate Amount of Exercise
Exercise is generally safe as soon as you feel ready within a few days after giving birth, but never start any exercise regime without first consulting with your doctor. Once you have received your healthcare provider’s approval, gradually incorporate gentle exercises into your daily routine. Non-strenuous activities include exercises such as light walks, stretching, and postnatal yoga, which can help promote your physical healing and emotional well-being.
Tip #5. Allow for Personal Time
Now that you’ve helped create a beautiful new life for another family, you need time for yourself and yours. Allow yourself time to look back on your surrogacy journey and reflect on its impact through mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or contemplation. Spend time doing things you enjoy, including spending time with your family.
Tip #6. Seek Emotional Support When Needed
The surrogacy journey can be emotionally challenging. Take care of yourself during the postpartum period. Let yourself feel and process your emotions as they come, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed.
Discuss your feelings and experiences with your support system. Support resources can include partners, friends, therapists, or surrogate support groups. If you experience emotional difficulties during postpartum, seek professional help as soon as possible. Your healthcare provider can offer guidance whether you have a physical issue, or need a referral for a mental health professional (e.g., therapist or counselor) consultation.
Tip #7. Watch for Signs of Postpartum Depression
Mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping are common postpartum symptoms for anyone who has recently given birth. The so-called “baby blues” usually last up to two weeks after delivery. But sometimes more severe, long-lasting depressive symptoms – known as postpartum depression – occur. It’s important to be aware of these symptoms and report them to your healthcare provider, they include:
- A feeling of sadness or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Social withdrawal from family and friends
- An increase or decrease in appetite
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- An overwhelming feeling of fatigue or lack of energy
- A high level of irritability or anger
- Feelings of shame, guilt, worthlessness, or hopelessness
- An inability to make decisions, think clearly, or concentrate
- Restlessness, severe anxiety, or panic attacks
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
If you have thoughts of self-harm, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about it immediately or reach out to a crisis hotline for immediate support.
Tip #8. Consider a Postpartum Doula
A postpartum doula supports people as they deal with the emotional and physical recovery from childbirth. For surrogates, post-partum doulas can help with light housework, cooking healthy meals, or providing emotional support and educational resources during the postpartum transition.
Tip #9. Use Helpful Postpartum Products
There are many helpful products designed to increase your comfort after giving birth; some popular products include:
- Donut pillows (to cushion your weight, preventing pressure on the perineal area after birth)
- Belly bands (to support the abdomen and improve posture and may help relieve pain & promote healing after a C-section)
- Peri Bottle (to soothe the perineal area with a warm water rinse)
- Cotton postpartum pads
- Itch relief spray
- Stool softeners and hemorrhoid balm
Navigating the Surrogacy Postpartum Journey
The surrogacy journey is unique, and while not every woman will have the same postpartum self-care plan, it’s essential to prioritize your well-being throughout the postpartum period. Ensure a positive and fulfilling surrogacy experience by seeking resources and support for your recovery needs. If you have questions about becoming a surrogate, contact Reproductive Possibilities today at (201) 505-0078, or fill out our surrogate application.