Navigating surrogacy and birth in the UK during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges to maternity care and birth in the UK. Navigating pregnancy with the added complexity of surrogacy through this time can be difficult, therefore the aim of this document is to bring together all of the current advice for surrogates, intended parents (IPs) and healthcare professionals.

The NHS has pandemic and surrogacy guidelines – though surrogacy may be new to your healthcare team

The number of UK surrogacy cases seen in NHS hospitals is increasing year on year, but still only accounts for less than 0.1% of all births in total. Therefore, the reality of having a healthcare team that have actually had first hand experience of a surrogate birth is fairly slim. Which is why BB endeavour to help guide the process for all involved, in the hope that everyone has a positive birth experience.

Additionally, given the current pandemic, NHS England have given hospitals temporary clinical guidance on intrapartum maternity care during COVID-19, along with the more recently published guidance from The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists on caring for COVID-19 positive patients, whether they are symptomatic or not.

Surrogacy guidelines also remain in place and should be used in conjunction with the above in order for an individualised plan of care to be reached with the IP and surrogate team and the healthcare providers.

Advice to surrogates and intended parents

As part of your preparation for a surrogate to give birth, we advise doing the following:

● Make contact with your healthcare provider, as soon as possible, and open a dialogue with them about your situation. It is important that as many people as possible know who you all are and are expecting you in order to be fully prepared on your arrival for labour and birth.

● If a healthcare provider has little experience of surrogacy, and even if they have a ‘Surrogacy Policy’, please do direct them to this document or to the documents within in order to support your journey.

● It is important for IPs to be physically close to their surrogate around the due date, so do make arrangements to be geographically nearby, allowing time to self-isolate for up to 14 days before the birth if necessary.

● Talk to the healthcare provider about aftercare for the newborn(s), ensuring that the surrogate is not put in a position where she would be caring for the child. Even during the pandemic, it is important for babies to be cared for by their parents and for them to have that bonding time, in a separate room from their surrogate while she recovers from birth.

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