Surrogacy relationships require excellent communication and empathy on both sides. The intended parents need empathy for the woman entering surrogate motherhood, but naturally have a lot of worries and questions regarding the pregnancy.
The traditional or gestational surrogate has to understand that the intended parents have no direct control over the pregnancy and are naturally concerned. Yet, the surrogate has to insist upon healthy boundaries and maintain her own right to live her life and be happy.
There is a lot of trust involved in these surrogacy relationships, and things can get complicated when problems arise. If you are considering surrogate motherhood or want to use a surrogate to bring your own baby into the world, keep reading to learn more about surrogacy relationships and how to prevent many common problems from arising.
The best way to maintain communication throughout a surrogate relationship is to agree on a schedule for updates throughout the pregnancy. This simply establishes a schedule for communication so some boundaries can be established in the relationship.
It does not mean communication cannot occur more frequently if needed. It just means there are times that intended parents are guaranteed to get updates on the pregnancy without intruding upon the surrogate mother.
Intended Parents and Control
One of the biggest causes for conflict in a surrogate relationship is the issue of control during the pregnancy. Surrogate pregnancy naturally gives the surrogate much control, even when the baby was not formed using the surrogate’s egg. Since the baby is growing in her body, she is directly responsible for doing everything required to ensure a healthy baby at the end of the pregnancy. Even if she does everything right, there is no guarantee of a perfect baby in the end. This has the ability to turn many well-meaning intended parents into micro-managers, causing the surrogate mother unnecessary stress.
Open and consistent communication can solve a lot of the problems in this aspect of surrogacy relationships, but empathy is needed from the surrogate. It is important for the surrogate to acknowledge the natural anxiety in the intended parents and to understand that their questions come from a place of concern for their unborn child. The surrogate that keeps the intended parents updated on everything happening with the pregnancy and answers questions patiently will have a much better relationship with the intended parents.
Yet, intended parents must also acknowledge the rights of the surrogate to have a life while pregnant, which includes some amount of privacy. If an update schedule is determined in the beginning, surrogacy relationships should naturally develop boundaries in this aspect.
Making the Big Decisions
No matter what type of agreement was made at the beginning of the pregnancy, things can get complicated when major pregnancy decisions arise. Does the surrogate mother have to go through amniocentesis? What about screening for potential birth defects? What about situations that put the surrogate mother’s health at risk? These are risky decisions that can bring conflict to a surrogate relationship, but there are two rules that always apply:
- The surrogate mother does not have to do anything that puts her body or health at risk.
- The intended parents should have the right to make the big decisions if they do not affect the health of the surrogate mother.
In most cases, big decisions such as abortion for genetic defects and selective reduction in case of multiples will be determined in the contracting phase of the relationship. This means the decisions are made before the pregnancy is even achieved and both surrogate and intended parents are on the same page about major issues.
While this can help when making serious decisions, it does not eliminate the potential for conflict in surrogacy relationships. No one knows when complications may occur in a pregnancy or when unexpected decisions may need to be made. Everyone involved in these surrogacy relationships will need to show compassion to the others involved when it comes down to serious decisions.
Traveling the Rocky Road
Not all pregnancies are smooth and easy. Sometimes, surrogate motherhood means complications that may leave a surrogate bedridden for part of the pregnancy. Intended parents are naturally concerned for the welfare of their babies when the surrogate faces health problems, but the surrogate is naturally concerned with their own health. This can lead to tension between everyone involved.
This is when empathy really comes into play. The surrogate must remember that the health of the baby is also on the line, while the intended parents remember that the health of the surrogate is just as important as the baby.
In the event that a pregnancy is lost or aborted due to health or genetic problems, the surrogacy relationship can become so strained that it breaks. The normal emotions involved with the loss of a pregnancy are intensified by the added dimension of guilt and potential blame. Even when the surrogate was a friend of the intended parents before entering the pregnancy, the relationship will often end as a result of this tragic event.
Open communication and empathy will increase the chances of a successful surrogacy relationship, but nothing can take away all risk of conflict. The best you can do is be aware of potential problems that may arise and plan accordingly in the very beginning of your relationship.
What advice would you give a first time surrogate?
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