A surrogate (and nurse) on planning for a baby during COVID-19

The situation here in the UK is evolving daily with new announcements from the government about Coronavirus and the ongoing impact this pandemic is having on our country, and in particular our NHS. I am a nurse and a surrogate so I wanted to share some of my thoughts and experience in the hope that it gives you some insight.

How my surrogate pregnancy plan has changed

As a nurse, I have had frontline experience of difficult situations within the NHS, and have cared for post-op patients and High Dependency Unit (HDU) cases. But first and foremost I am a surrogate currently 23 weeks pregnant with twins. I am also a high risk pregnancy with a weakened cervix which means that, before now, the plan was for me to be monitored every 2 weeks. 

Over the last few days my NHS hospital has been in touch with me to cancel my Consultant Clinic appointments (which are due to be rearranged by virtual appointments using FaceTime or Skype). At my next scan, I will be the only one able to attend and will not be able to have any support with me – my intended parents (IPs) even being told that they cannot enter the hospital and will need to stay in their car.

I completely understand having come from a medical background, and I do agree it’s the right thing to do, but I know the final 12 weeks of this pregnancy is going to be very different from what we all anticipated it would be. 

This is hard for surrogates and IPs, but being safe is critical

I have had contact with other surrogates and intended parents and most are hearing the same things as me, with some midwives pushing for IPs to be able to attend the scans with the surrogate. But in reality, is this the right thing to do? Although it is going to be tough for the surrogate being on her own, and the IPs missing out on these key moments, the ultimate goal for everyone is to give birth to a happy healthy baby, and regardless of how things are right now, this goal remains the same. And being safe is so critical at this time.

Communication between myself and my intended parents at the moment is no less vital, but it is all virtual too. I am anticipating that this is just the way it will need to be until their babies come into the world. We are in touch every day, and have started to use our Belly Buds – special speakers that gently adhere to your baby bump to safely play sound to your belly – which is lovely. They can read a story to their babies each night, I can play it to them before bed, and they can still hear their parents’ voices daily! 

Preparing for a minimal birth experience

As far as the actual birth goes, we aren’t sure about that right now.  In an ideal world I would have my birth partner, and my intended parents would also both be in the room for the birth of their babies, but right now we aren’t living in the ideal world, and we are preparing ourselves for a very minimal birth experience. That may mean only one person being allowed in the room with me whilst I am in labour. It will be a very personal decision for each surrogate on who she feels most comfortable with if it does come to that. 

I would encourage all the teams out there who are also in my position right now, to talk to each other! Have these conversations, talk to your labour ward, midwife or consultant, and keep actively checking for updates from your local NHS trust. You need to consider all eventualities here, and have them talked through with each other so you are all comfortable with the plan when that day finally arrives. 

Things may look a little different, the birth plan might be thrown out the window, but ultimately, the birth will happen, surrogates will go home to their own families, hug them tight, and the IPs will take their baby home to start their life as a new family; and that right there is what we all need to be focused on.  

By Laura Clarke, Client Manager & Brilliant Surrogate

Laura Clarke