Dear Sassy Surrogate: All About Doulas

Dear Sassy Surrogate: I’m a surrogate. My intended parents suggested that I get a doula. I didn’t have one when I had my own kids. What are the advantages? Do the IPs need a separate one? -Confused

Hi, Confused—

As a gestational carrier, the labor and delivery process is in your control, but it’s also not. In surrogacy, you will have the intended parents’ concerns to hear and consider in making decisions. 

While your own deliveries probably had little to no complications, there is the very real fact that surrogacy pregnancy and deliveries often carry more risk. Those risks impact your experience and care during the pregnancy and delivery process. Doulas can provide you with a great deal of support before and after delivery. There are doulas to support every part of the family building time.

As a gestational carrier you’re taking on this risk all for someone else. While this makes you a super hero, it also can take a toll on your mental and physical well being. Getting the right kind of support makes all the difference in how you handle and process the journey of surrogacy

Here’s a list of the different kinds of doulas you could benefit from at different parts of your journey.  While there are some doulas who do all these things, usually doulas have an area they specialize in. 

Antepartum Doulas: Supports a pregnant person who is experiencing a particular high risk pregnancy.

As a gestational carrier you have a higher risk for complications. This is especially true if you are carrying twins. An Antepartum Doula can help you navigate and advocate for you and your family’s needs while also managing the risks of the pregnancy.  Antepartum doulas can come to your home if you are on bedrest to take care you and your children. They can help with food prep and taking care of the house. They can also support you in the struggle of having to stay inactive for an extended period of time.  If you have to be in the hospital they can support your family whirl you are gone and also provide help in navigating your time and care at the hospital.

Birth Doulas: Support families through the labor and delivery process. 

If you didn’t use a birth doula for your own deliveries, it may seem silly to think you will need more support for this birth, yet there are many more factors at play with surrogacy. There are your own desires for how you want to be supported and also the needs and concerns of the IPs. You may feel a lot more pressure to do things you're not actually comfortable doing.

A birth doula can help you navigate conversations with the IPs and doctors to make sure you don’t end up feeling your needs and body autonomy got lost in the process.

Postpartum doulas: Support families in the first 2-6 months of life with a new baby or babies.

You’re not taking this baby home, so why would you need a postpartum doula? Your body is still going to be in recovery and you won’t have the benefit of increased oxytocin from snuggling with a new baby. You also have your own children who will need support as you heal and get back to your life. A postpartum doula can help make meals, walk the dog and support you in the emotional transition of giving birth and saying goodbye to the baby you’ve carried for 9 months. If you’re going to be pumping for your IPs a postpartum doula can also support you in getting the right pump and pumping schedule to make the most of your time and milk supply.

Sibling Doulas: Support the siblings of the new baby either at the birth or in the early postpartum.

Your children may need some extra support at any or every part of this process. A sibling doula can support and care for your children in understanding what’s happening and how you are being taken care of. Sibling doulas understand the pregnancy and birth process as well as how to talk with children about birth. 

Bereavement Doulas: Support families who have experienced loss related to birth. This could be loss of baby or parent. 

While we hope that nothing goes wrong, it sometimes does. Having the support of a doula who is trained in the impact of loss can make a huge impact on your healing. Even if everything goes exactly as you want it to, you may have to grieve the ending of the journey. You may need support in navigating the saying goodbye to the baby. There may even be a need to process the change of relationship with the IPs as they may become distant while they transition to their new and busy role of taking care of their new baby.

Abortion Doulas: Supporting a pregnant person through the process of terminating a pregnancy. 

Not every surrogate agrees to termination during surrogacy, but for many this is something that could happen. If for some health reason there is a need or desire for the IPs to terminate the pregnancy, you may find yourself in need of an Abortion Doula. In surrogacy, a termination is such a hard decision. We all know how wanted this baby is. Even knowing that it is probably the right thing, termination is hard. Being supported by a professional though the process can help you find the right way to move through it in a way that feels best for you.

Need more information of ways you can feel supported through a surrogacy process? fill out our brief intake form and we would love to talk to you.

Need more information of ways you can feel supported through a surrogacy process?