In all the excitement leading up to the baby’s arrival, it can be easy to gloss over the details of how he or she will actually arrive. In a surrogate birth, these details are imperative - not only do the desires of the surrogate and the intended parents need to be considered, but the legal requirements must also be finalized in advance. A birth plan helps address your preferences as well as the necessary details in the exciting culmination of your surrogacy journey.
A birth plan is a clear and simple outline (roughly one page) of your ideal scenario before, during and just after the birth. In a surrogate delivery, it’s important to address these things at length before the delivery day to meet the needs of all parties involved – as closely as possible, anyway.
A plan is just that – a roadmap of the way you’d like the process to go. It’s equally important to understand that you may need to go with a backup plan in the event of an unforeseen circumstance.
While the ultimate goal is a healthy baby, the needs of the surrogate must also be met. It is a physically and emotionally taxing process, and the more prepared you can be about the possible scenarios, the better you’ll be able to handle the unexpected too.
This is one of the reasons it’s generally recommended that a birth plan be specific but short. That makes it easier for the birth team – nurses, midwives, doctors, doulas, and support people – to follow the plan as closely as circumstances allow.
You can benefit from creating a birth plan long before delivery day. Birth plans minimize the risk of the unknown, streamline the overall process, and create alternative actions in case of emergencies. Who will be present during the labor and birth? What are the desired potential medical interventions? Who will hold the baby first? Exploring important questions such as these encourage both the surrogate and the intended parents to learn more about their available options.
Every hospital is a little different, so this is also the time to inquire about pain relief options, visitors, and specific routines or protocol they may already have in place. It’s much better to be aware of these things going in – no one wants any unnecessary surprises when emotions are already running high during labor.
Consider details and requests before birth, during labor and delivery, and newborn care. A few specifics to keep in mind:
There are many birth plan samples available online, and a birth plan generator that helps you create an interactive document. Your doctor’s office or hospital may also provide a worksheet to get a discussion started.
A birth plan is especially important in a surrogacy match; because there are technically up to three people involved – the surrogate giving birth plus the intended parent(s) - legal paperwork must be confirmed well in advance of the delivery day.
It’s these legal details that are of primary concern in a surrogacy birth plan because of the impact they have on the new parents. It’s important to legally establish through HIPPA and other hospital documents that the parents are making medical decisions and have hospital wristbands for access to the baby.
This means you will want to establish identity – for the intended parents as well as the surrogate and her partner – right there on the birth plan. File these with hospital personnel in advance, but plan to have copies of necessary legal documents on hand as well.
Other details and preferences are addressed at the beginning of the process during matching, but they should be revisited as the birth gets closer. A 30-week birth discussion helps accomplish this.
“It’s either a virtual meeting or a phone conference where we get the gestational carrier and her partner as well as the intended parents together with the match manager,” explains Leah McFail, Match Manager at ConceiveAbilities. “We walk through pages of questions about how everyone would like to see the birth go; plans for before birth, during labor, a basic birth plan.”
Taking care to include everyone in the discussion prior to delivery day ensures that all voices and concerns are heard and taken into account. And all are reminded that the plan is just that – a plan. Leah points out, “As we all know, babies have their own plans anyway!”
If you’re ready to start your surrogacy journey, our team of experts is here to support you every step of the way. Learn more about becoming a surrogate mother or having a baby through surrogacy, or contact us for more information.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.