Post-birth care for UK surrogates

The weeks and months after a baby is born can be a delicate time for everyone involved.  It is important for surrogates and intended parents to look after themselves and each other.

Surrogate recovery


Every delivery is unique and what a surrogate needs to help her recover after a surrogacy birth is very personal.  As well as appropriate medical care and support from your partner or family as you recover physically, it is important that your emotional and psychological health is cared for.  For many surrogates, seeing the baby in the arms of their parents is the ultimate goal.  You may feel elated to see the love and happiness in their faces and a feeling of euphoria like nothing else before.  However the birth may not have given you what you envisaged, particularly if there were complications in the delivery, and you may need to process that.  A rush of confusing hormones can follow the birth too – your body telling you to nurture the child you have just given birth to, while your mind is saying the opposite.

You should be kind to yourself and focus on your mental as well as physical recovery, with the support of health professionals and those in your support system as well as your intended parents. You will be visited by a health worker for a period of time, but he or she may not have experience of surrogacy and may not know the best way to approach some of the sensitive feelings you may be experiencing. This may be a time when you may benefit from some additional support from an experienced surrogacy counsellor (which is something we routinely provide for our surrogates at Brilliant Beginnings).

You are entitled to full maternity leave, although many surrogates choose to take just a couple of months before returning to work. This is a key time for you to reconnect with your family, who will have also been on the journey with you, and it is important to take the time you need.

Intended parents can help by checking in regularly, visiting, sending photos and updates about baby and asking open questions about how their surrogate is feeling. Again, discussing the post-birth period in your surrogacy agreement gives everyone a guide to navigating this time, but you also need to respond to how your relationship has evolved since those early days. For many teams who are not already friends or family members, surrogacy creates a lifelong bond between your families, and maintaining a strong connection after the birth can be a lovely product of the surrogacy process.


Leave from work after surrogacy


You should review your company’s policies with regards to time off work after the birth but as a minimum, you are entitled to full maternity leave and statutory maternity pay in the same way as if you had given birth to your own child.  You can claim up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave, and maternity pay at the current statutory rate assuming you qualify. 

A surrogate’s partner is not currently entitled to paternity leave and pay because paternity leave only applies where you are caring for a baby.


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