Surrogacy pregnancy experience in the UK

It is sensible for surrogates to let their GPs know about their plans before starting fertility treatment. Once a pregnancy has been confirmed, the surrogate’s care for the remainder of her pregnancy will revert to her local midwife team.

Healthcare during pregnancy


A surrogate will be allocated a midwife and offered the same usual appointments as any other pregnant woman under NHS care in their area, plus any additional medical care she needs as the pregnancy progresses.

Intended parents are encouraged to be as involved as possible in their surrogate’s antenatal care and to attend appointments such as ultrasound scans so they can see for themselves how their baby is growing. Intended parents are legally entitled to time off work to attend two antenatal appointments with their surrogate, but in practice employers may be more flexible or you may be able to use annual leave.

It is sensible for a surrogate to ensure that everyone involved in her care is aware she is a surrogate and to explain who the intended parents are.  You will need to be prepared to explain your circumstances (possibly repeatedly) and it is sensible to plan ahead so that accommodations can be made in good time if needed.  For example, if a hospital has a usual policy of allowing only one other person to attend a scan, you may need to have a discussion with the hospital before your scan about the special circumstances if both intended parents wish to attend.


Antenatal classes


Antenatal classes can help prospective parents feel more prepared for labour, birth and caring for their new-born.  This is no less important if you are an intended parent through surrogacy.  Even if you are not giving birth yourselves you will need to know what to expect when your surrogate goes into labour and be there to support your surrogate and your baby once he or she is born.  Not all surrogates feel they need to attend antenatal classes (particularly if they have had a few children of their own already) but some surrogacy teams attend together, or intended parents can attend on their own.  It is often also a great way to meet other local parents with babies due around the same time which can give you a social and support network after the birth.


Bonding with a surrogacy baby during pregnancy


Intended parents often worry about how they will bond with their baby during the pregnancy. Most surrogates want to do everything they can to help their intended parents feel connected to their baby.  This is an important part of early-stage discussions and your plans should be outlined in your surrogacy agreement. As well as attending scans and appointments, doing things such as using belly buds to play the baby recordings of their parents reading stories, for example, is a lovely way for the baby to become used to the sound of their parents’ voices. A surrogate keeping their intended parents updated with key moments such as first kicks and her growing bump can also help.


Telling your employer


It is sensible for both surrogates and intended parents to let their employers know about their plans at a time that feels right for them. Some people like to speak with them before commencing treatment, others like to wait until a pregnancy is achieved.  If you are claiming adoption leave as an intended parent or maternity leave as a surrogate you need to tell your employer at least 15 weeks before your due date.


Communication and relationships


Maintaining good communication between a surrogate and intended parents is crucial during a surrogate pregnancy. Intended parents will want to know how their surrogate is feeling and anything relevant to how their baby is developing. Equally, a surrogate will want her intended parents to know how things are going so they feel as involved in the pregnancy as possible. Some surrogates may shield minor pregnancy grumbles from their intended parents for fear of worrying them, so it is helpful if intended parents can be mindful that their surrogate may not be feeling quite as good as she says.

If it is not possible for you to meet up regularly, you should find a way to maintain regular communication that works for everyone such as video calls and messages. It is also really important to let as many people as you feel comfortable with knowing about your journey, so you have the best possible support from those you are close to.

What good communication in a surrogacy journey looks like is very personal so it is important to be honest with each other about your expectations at the outset as well as to deal with any issues which arise promptly and constructively.  The dynamics of the relationship can shift and change at the different stages of a surrogacy journey, which is why you should create a strong foundation by spending time getting to know each other at the outset and discussing all key issues in advance. This will help stand everyone in good stead to be able to navigate their relationship as they face ups and downs along the way. Having the support of an agency can also be invaluable, helping you manage any awkward issues that arise or get you all through any particularly emotional stages, as well as generally to help keep communication on an even track.


Dealing with complications


Sadly some pregnancies do involve complications, such as miscarriage, premature delivery, stillbirth or the need to make heart-breaking decisions if there is a problem with the baby.  This is always a very difficult time for everyone involved, and at Brilliant Beginnings we will do all we can to support you through it.  Our client managers can attend appointments with you to give practical and emotional support, help you communicate with each other and any professionals involved, help arrange other support as appropriate, and be a sounding board to help you work through what is happening.


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