When deciding to resort to surrogacy, the participants of the surrogacy program think first of all about its medical, legal and financial stages and aspects. They do not always pay proper attention to its psychological aspects.
But each of the participants in the surrogacy program will live through their own “psychological dramas” and difficult periods in life, which need attention and time.
There may be less stress during the surrogacy program if both intended parents are the genetic parents of the child. But this is not always the case. Anyway, one cannot count on complete “psychological painlessness” of this process.
Worries arise already at the first stage, when a couple undergoes many medical procedures, which are quite painful, embarrassing, and unpleasant. The couple constantly “lets” the medical staff into their intimate life; they experience their female or male “failure” in front of other people – lawyers, doctors, psychologists, etc. Therefore, donor’s participation in the program can significantly aggravate all these psychological worries of the couple. For some potential parents, the use of a donor biomaterial is like “lost hope”, “defeat” in the fight against infertility.
Then comes another difficult stage – choosing a surrogate mother (and a donor, if necessary), which is a test of feelings for a couple. And again – waiting, worries, hopes. Will it work or should we start all over again? If it works out, then the anxiety may slightly lessen – the joy of a successful procedure will overshadow some of the psychological tension for a certain period.
Also, the surrogate program is a serious challenge for a woman who volunteered to carry a child for the couple. And it is not easy for the husband of a surrogate mother to realize that his wife is carrying someone else’s child for someone else’s family – this can traumatize him.
With proper preparation at the initial stage, surrogate mothers may not have significant psychological problems. But even when potential parents choose a surrogate mother from several “candidates”, the surrogates may experience the so-called “what is wrong with me” state.
As a rule, a part of surrogate mothers experience worries and anxiety during pregnancy regarding the baby they are carrying. They want not only to successfully carry a child, to give birth to a healthy baby, but they also worry about the baby’s future life. They are wondering whether genetic parents can give the necessary care and attention to the born child.
In general, after the birth of a child, most often all participants in the surrogacy program may be disturbed by the following psychological experiences:
– Possible psychological instability of a surrogate mother after the childbirth. Even knowing that this child is “not hers”, it is not difficult to understand the surrogate mother, as it is impossible to believe that a surrogate mother does not develop any feelings for the child at all. When the time comes to give the baby to the intended parents, for many surrogates it turns out to be a difficult psychological situation. Here, not only a feeling of uncertainty in the reliability of the intended parents can arise, but also the maternal instinct of care, which cannot be completely neutralized (turned off). These psychological experiences can be difficult to live through. It is good for the surrogate mother to quickly switch to her own children, who may also be psychologically impacted by their mother’s participation in the program. She needs supportive people around her, who would fill her life with pleasant concerns, return her to her usual rhythm and way of life.
– An intended mother may develop self-disappointment syndrome. After the birth of a child, some intended mothers experience a new bout of disappointment, because they never became the mother who gave birth. After all, they did not go through the whole series of stages of the conception and growth of a new life, they did not live with the baby through the process of gestation and childbirth. It would be nice for intended parents to actively participate in the process of gestation as often as possible – to ask the surrogate mother how she feels, to stay in touch, to know about the health of the surrogate mother and the baby. Being present at the delivery or immediately after the birth helps to forge a bond with the baby. Physical contact and active baby care is of utmost importance.
An intended father may develop “too much care” for a surrogate mother. During the surrogate mother’s pregnancy, future fathers can get used to her, since they already know almost everything about her health and problems. After a baby is born, feelings of gratitude can be mixed with feelings of caring. During this period, fathers may not be able to immediately switch only to their child and spouse, even though their spouse really needs it now. For her feminine and maternal perception, the excessive care of her husband about the surrogate mother during such a period, and even talking about her condition, can be psychologically traumatic. In these times, you need to “unite the efforts” of the family. Mutual care, attention to each other’s feelings, joint childcare will help to tune in to a completely new stage in the family – now you are the parents of your baby.
– Psychological problems of the intended parents in connection with the need to answer other people’s questions about the origin of their child. “Public opinion” is also important – the attitude of society to these issues, which is often prejudiced against surrogacy. Returning to “society” can be uncomfortable for all program participants. It is necessary to take care of all possible explanations for the “uncomfortable” questions in advance. While “publicity” can be avoided simply by hiding the fact of participation in the program, it is almost impossible to hide it from your family and your loved ones. The surrogate mother may also have problems with her husband or children in connection with the participation in the Program. It is good if there is an opportunity to get help from a psychologist, support of the loved ones, so that the family can go through a difficult stage together and preserve its integrity.
Of course, surrogacy often causes various fears, concerns, and anxieties in the intended parents. And in many cases they can become an obstacle to the realization of the dream – to be parents and have a family with children. Each case is individual and requires a special approach and understanding. It is necessary to understand all the points and to get the necessary information and expert advice, weigh the pros and cons, listen to your attitude towards this issue. And, perhaps, this will help you not to be afraid and to make this important step in the life of the intended parents.