Preparing for the Emotional Handoff

2021-04-1

A parent’s bond with their child is like nothing else in the world. However, it’s common for many intended parents to wonder how difficult it will be to form this type of strong familial bond with their baby born via surrogacy.

As research shows, this “attachment” begins in utero—where the child learns the sound of his or her surrogate’s voice and gets familiar with her scent. These prenatal bonding experiences comfort the baby and inspire self-care practices during pregnancy, while also instilling a sense of nurture, security, and well-being for the baby after he or she is born.

While it may take more time for hopeful parents to bond with their newborn, a routine practice used in surrogacy is the “emotional transfer” where the baby is slowly eased into his or her intended parents’ lives at birth. Because the handoff from the surrogate to the intended parents can be quite jarring for a newborn, it’s important to remember that the needs of the baby come first.

This process gives your baby enough time to get to know you, while also comfortably adjusting to their new environment. With a little bit of patience and a lot of love and understanding, you can create a deep, affectionate bond with your baby—regardless of who carried or gave birth to your child. We recommend taking these crucial steps to help the baby have a smooth transition to his or her intended parents in surrogacy:

Be Involved in Your Surrogate’s Pregnancy

The emotional transfer is all about putting the needs of your baby first, so it’s important to be involved throughout the entire pregnancy to start forming a bond as soon as possible.

Get Excited

If possible, attend doctor’s appointments (virtually), throw a baby shower, and video chat with your surrogate. The more you connect with your surrogate, the more excitement and attachment you’ll feel to your baby.

Talk to Your Baby

As mentioned above, babies develop an attachment to the voices they hear outside of the womb. Send voice recordings or videos to your surrogate to play for your baby so he or she can become familiar with your voice, too.

Prepare Your Baby for a New Environment

Have your surrogate play sounds and transfer scents that can be carried over to your home after the baby is born. She can play your favorite music or sleep with a stuffed animal that will have her scent so that your child feels a sense of familiarity in his or her new environment.

The Emotional Transfer at the Hospital

As the long, exciting surrogacy journey comes to a close, it’s time to prepare for the emotional transfer. Your first instinct might be to hold your newborn, but it’s important to take a few steps before your first interactions.

Confirm Your Baby’s Sense of Smell & Touch

After your baby is born, he or she makes sense of the new world by confirming his or her sense of smell, touch, and hearing. Because your baby is most accustomed to these senses through your surrogate, he or she can be placed on her chest to feel, listen, and confirm the scents your baby is so familiar with.

Skin-to-Skin Contact

Our team at GSHC recommends that the surrogate (if she wishes) have no more than 1 hour of skin-to-skin contact with the baby in the hospital before the baby is taken for additional care by either the intended parents or hospital staff.

The Physical Transfer

Once the baby has had a little time to adjust to his or her new surroundings, the surrogate will ideally be the one to hand you your baby. This moment is the culmination of a long journey and seeing your family together gives the surrogate a sense of accomplishment for what she has done.

Connect with Your Baby Through Touch

After the physical transfer, it’s important to get as much skin-to-skin contact with your baby as possible to help facilitate the bonding process. Remember that while it most likely won’t happen overnight, your connection with your baby will develop over time. Holding, cuddling, and even breastfeeding can strengthen this process.

After the Emotional Transfer

The physical and emotional transfer at the hospital just barely begins to scratch the surface of the attachment intended parents will eventually build with their child. We suggest that you stay in touch with your surrogate after bringing your baby home.

Taking your baby to visit your surrogate after a couple of weeks will help him or her understand that they still have that familiar face around. And, this small reunion reaffirms that the surrogacy journey is complete and successful.

Even though as intended parents, you might not be present as often as you’d like to be during the surrogate pregnancy, with a little bit of time, effort, and using the above techniques, you can create a beautiful, deeply emotional attachment with your child.

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