DOULAS: BRIDGING THE GAP OF SUPPORT BETWEEN SURROGATES AND INTENDED PARENTS
By Renà Koerner and Darla Burns, Co-Founders of Doulas for Surrogacy
The surrogacy process is an amazing time of joy, anticipation, and excitement. This time is also met with normal feelings that require additional understanding and support for all parties traveling this journey. The surrogacy process requires a lot of patience and open communication between the birthing woman and the intended parents. Having trained, knowledgeable professionals, such as birth and postpartum doulas, as part of the surrogacy team, can help provide a whole new level of support, communication, and education which leads to better outcomes for everyone.
Typically, after the birthing woman delivers, she is left with little to no support. Her job is complete, while the job is just beginning for the Intended Parents. Birth doulas can be an invaluable asset to the birth team. For example, the birth doula can help to create dialogue between the Birthing Woman and the Intended Parents about birth expectations, who is expected to be present during the birth, and the types of interventions that are available and agreeable to all parties. The birth doula will be available to answer questions and provide physical, emotional, and informational support to the Birthing Woman throughout labor and birth. She may also add support to the Intended Parents, if they are present for the birth, however, her main focus is on the birthing woman.
As in traditional birth scenarios, the birth doula will also remain with the Birthing Woman for up to two hours after the baby is born to provide continued emotional and physical support and may assist with helping her pump breast milk, if she will be providing that milk to the new baby or to donate to a milk bank. She may also provide some immediate assistance to the Intended Parents if induced lactation was achieved or to support them with immediate bonding options. Additionally, the birth doula will do a follow-up visit to the Birthing Woman approximately 1 week after giving birth, to check on her physical and emotional healing as well as provide suggestions for further comfort.
For many Intended Parents, they have hoped for years to have a baby of their own. Many times, they have been let down and may be reluctant to actually “plan” to have a newborn (or newborns!) in their home. They don’t have adequate support to help them understand their new roles as parents and are often sent home with their baby feeling ill-equipped. Postpartum Doulas, are sometimes referred to as “the baby manual the hospital doesn’t give new parents”. They are the hands-on trainers in the home, helping the parents to understand their baby’s cues, how to calm them, bond with them and care for them as they find their new rhythm as an extended family.
Doulas truly do bridge the gap of support between the Birthing Woman and Intended Parents. They are a valuable asset to the Surrogacy process.
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