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Surrogacy and Bonding After Birth

bonding be parent

What does bonding mean to you? This an important question to reflect on
as you journey towards meeting and connecting with your new baby at the
end of your surrogacy journey. Society’s portrayal of post-partum
parenthood can sometimes lead us to believe that bonding is automatic and
present from the moment a newborn takes it’s first breath. Although this
may be true for some, this is not the case for everyone.

Bonding, like all emotional attachments, is a uniquely personal experience
and is felt and expressed in a variety of ways, and according to a very
personal timeline. If you are having fears about bonding with your baby
after birth, you are not alone. Most expectant parents are curious or feel
some doubt as to how they will connect with their newborn and this worry
is even more poignant during a surrogacy experience.

Whether you have dwelled on this aspect or not, says nothing about your
ability to parent positively and has more to do with your tendency to be
introspective and self-evaluate. The very fact you feel this concern validates
the potential you do have to care and bond with your baby when the time
comes.

Will I be able to bond with a baby I didn’t carry? To set the record straight
you have, in so many ways, carried your baby born from surrogacy. From
inception to birth you have been there and carried him or her in your heart
for 9 long months in the same way as any other parent-to-be. You have
experienced all the very same feelings of impending joy, hope, fear and
longing any expectant parent has.

When a baby is born through surrogacy an emotional transfer takes place
as the newborn transitions from the care felt in the surrogate carrier’s
uterine environment to the hands-on, interactive care of the intended
parents. This transfer is very meaningful and is an exciting time for new
parents. These initial emotions , as well as the emotional output to follow,
are all part of the early bond-building process. Until your baby can process
language, there is intuitive communication taking place, whereby your
baby can sense your joy and your intention to care, support, provide and
protect. This isn’t to mean that bond formation is limited to the first few
days of life. There is a lot of time ahead for you to foster a connection
through your attentiveness to your baby’s needs and by your nurturing
responses.

After surrogacy, it is common to feel at the very beginning as though you
are ‘babysitting’. Despite all the hope and energy that has gone into a
surrogacy journey, an intended parent’s body has not been physically
prepared for birth, and with this comes hormonal influxes to assist with
attachment. Consistency and responsiveness to your baby’s cues for care
will reinforce your role as your child’s primary caregiver in no time.

Tips to boost bonding

• Learn about and practice “skin-to-skin kangaroo care”. “Skin-to-skin”
involves placing your newborn against your bare chest so as to feel
authentic body heat, sounds, and smells and to activate baby’s senses
as they are reminded of their environment in utero.

• Chat and smile! Babies enjoy the sound of your voice; they may not
understand your words just yet, but they feel the emotion from your
tone. Spending time engaging in this way, builds trust and security.
The more they hear, see and feel from you the more they get to know
you and rely on you as the source to fulfil their needs.

• Provide swift and consistent responses to your baby’s needs. Being
attentive to your baby’s need for soothing, food, warmth, rest, touch
and hygiene will teach your baby that the world is a comfortable and
great place to be and that you are an unwavering source of comfort
and fulfilment.

• Reach out for support. Being a new parent is a huge transition and
lack of sleep can be mood altering. You are the most important
person in your baby’s life and your emotional health is intertwined
with your child’s. Parents who feel mentally well provide better care
and comfort to their babies. If you feel incapable of bonding and/or
caring for your baby, seek outside help and receive support sooner
rather than later.

Words on bonding from our intended parents:
“Participating in the Doula preparation classes while our surrogate was
‘pregnant’ was really helpful, we were able to make a ‘plan’ and this helped us
feel connected before we even met our daughter. I worried a lot about
bonding with her but took it one day at time and feel really in-tune to her
now”

“My partner bonded faster than I did, it took me some time to understand my
own feelings, and I’m proud to admit I made a real effort to bond. Activities
like baby massage helped as I felt I was physically connecting with my baby”

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oto mekhashishvili