If you’ve given birth, you’re familiar with the term “postpartum” – that time after the baby is born when your hormones are elevated and your body is slowly returning to its pre-pregnancy state.
Because a surrogate pregnancy is similar to your own pregnancy, surrogate mothers often experience postpartum once they deliver their surrobaby. But how is postpartum different with a surrogate pregnancy and a traditional pregnancy?
What is postpartum?
According to Womenshealth.gov, “Postpartum” means the time after childbirth. Most women get the “baby blues,” or feel sad or empty, within a few days of giving birth. For many women, the baby blues go away in 3 to 5 days.
Do surrogate mothers experience postpartum?
In short, yes. However, those postpartum feelings are mixed with other emotions as well, such as: joy and excitement at finally giving their intended parents the baby they’ve been waiting for.
While a surrogate pregnancy can feel the same as a traditional pregnancy, once a surrogate mother gives birth, that’s where the similarities end. With a traditional pregnancy, the woman who gave birth is busy loving and caring for her newborn (as well as any other children who may be at home). She’s likely tired from waking up and feeding the baby every few hours.
Two-time surrogate MM shares her honest thoughts on surrogate mother postpartum:
“This is real life postpartum. Adult diaper on, still looking pregnant, nursing pads floating around, taking care of stitches in unmentionable places. Eating healthy the majority of the time…although I love those Double Stuffed Oreos! Falling asleep in seconds only to wake to a “time to pump” alarm. And then being so proud of the result!
I’ve had so many people ask…how do you feel now? You bonded with the baby and now she’s not there, that must be hard.
It’s not hard, it’s beautiful. When you become a surrogate, it’s not to have a baby. It’s to complete a family who so desperately wants a child but cannot make it happen on their own. It’s paying it forward by offering love and health for those 9 months. Of course it was incredible to feel her movements and see her growing inside of me. But what was growing even more was the anticipation of seeing her where she belongs: in the arms of her mommy and daddy, who get to love her for life. And me? I got to deliver that precious bundle and watch those first moments as they became a family. I get teary thinking of it, not because I miss her, but because I am so proud and honored to have been a part of something so beautiful.”
How can a surrogate overcome postpartum and recover from her surrogate pregnancy?
- Find your people. Connect with other surrogate mothers – either through your agency’s private social media groups or via public forums – to share your feelings and listen to others’ stories. Postpartum can be a confusing and emotional time; they’ve been in your shoes, and sometimes it’s just nice to talk and laugh with someone who knows what you’re going through.
- Accessorize to help your body heal. You have put your body through a tremendous physical act, it’s time to let yourself heal. Here are some items to help yourself feel better:
- Donut pillow. Hemorrhoids and perineal pain can be unfortunate side effects of childbirth. It makes it extremely hard to get comfortable when sitting, lying down, walking – and everything else! – hurts. Sitting on donut-shaped pillow will not only help with your posture, but will also alleviate any pressure that could be caused by a chair seat or couch, or even super soft beds.
- Bellybands. Post delivery, most women continue to feel pressure and contraction-like pains due to the uterus and stomach shrinking back up or any gas that could be trapped (especially with a c-section!). Shaped a little like a girdle, these bands help alleviate those gas pains and can speed up the uterine shrinking process!
- Sitz bath. This type of bath is taken in a few inches of lukewarm water in the bathtub to help alleviate pain or discomfort of the vaginal area from childbirth.
- Keep things “moving”. As your body recovers and goes back to “normal”, it’s important to do all you can to help your body healthy.
- Hydrate! Drink water and lots of it. Staying hydrated will help with fatigue, dryness, will get things “moving”, and will help flush out any toxins.
- Stool softeners. Having a BM (bowel movement) after birth is scary! Whether you had a vaginal delivery or c-section, there is an inherent fear of pushing or pressure. To help move things along and keep you “regular”, stool softeners can help ease the process...and ease your fears.
- Probiotics. After almost any invasive surgeries or procedures, many will complain of abdominal pains which are caused not only by the procedure itself, but are caused by gas that can get trapped during the surgery. The recommended remedy is a gas relief over-the-counter product, as well as trying a probiotic. After a c-section, a surrogate may be taking strong antibiotics to protect her from any infection, however antibiotics can cause an upset stomach. Probiotics will help alleviate gas pains to make any stomach discomfort more bearable.
- Treat scars. Typically a c-section scar is located just below the bikini line, so not visible, however, you can help prevent a scar. Our recommendations are tried and true creams like Mederma or c-section specific products like ScarAway’s C-section Scar Sheets.
Becoming a surrogate and giving intended parents the greatest gift – a baby! – is a wonderful experience. And like a traditional pregnancy, a surrogate may experience the same emotional and physical effects that she did with her own pregnancies. It’s not unusual for a surrogate to experience postpartum and need as long of a recovery time physically as she did with her own children. Surrogates should be sure to give themselves time to recover and heal, as they get back to “normal” mentally and physically. After all, they just participated in one of the most amazing experiences possible!We’re always looking for women to become surrogates to help others have the families of their dreams. If you're interested in learning more about the surrogate process, or feeling ready to apply, visit our website today!