In January I posted about all of the key parties that work together to execute a surrogacy arrangement. Even for a simple surrogacy experience, it’s no short list! Your initial surrogacy team of professionals are the ones who work together to meet your basic medical and legal needs – they include the staff of your fertility center and the lawyers you need to execute the surrogacy agreement prior to your cycle, during the pregnancy, and then after the birth.
But this list does not include the wide variety of others who might also support you through your surrogacy. There’s another group of professionals, in keeping with the team analogy, might be called your “second string team.” And I don’t mean to imply that they’re less valuable to your surrogacy experience; I mean that they’re not required, medically or legally, to execute a surrogacy. They’re “nice-to-have” rather than “need-to-have.”
That said, you may find that you rely on some of these professionals even more than your nurse or your doctor. Every fertility journey is highly individual and each person has his or her own unique needs and ways of meeting those needs. So let’s look at this next round of folks and how they might fit into your own fertility and/or surrogacy experience:
Whether you’re cycling to produce the highest quality eggs or sperm possible, or your gestational carrier is currently pregnant with your baby, some people find it’s helpful to consult with a nutritionist. Some nutrition professionals specialize in fertility, pre-conception and pregnancy – ask your fertility center for recommendations. A word of advice, though (and this is based on personal experience!) – tread lightly if you’re asking your gestational carrier to consult with a nutritionist. You chose her to carry for you because you trust her and her successful pregnancy history and good judgment. She could feel that you’ve lost your faith in her if you offer the services to a nutritionist, so be sensitive to this possibility.
IVF is time consuming and stressful, plain and simple! The more you can relax through the process (easier said than done, I know), the more you can handle any bumps in the road (there are always some). A good massage therapist can help you stay relaxed while you’re cycling and can help keep your gestational carrier comfortable during her pregnancy, not to mention keep you calm and relaxed in the weeks leading up to your baby’s birth.
Acupuncture has been offered as a complimentary treatment for IVF for many years. Some fertility clinics offer it, while others work with local acupuncture practitioners or they can refer to you practitioners. Acupuncture is process-oriented, meaning that the best results are obtained over many months of treatment, though it can be done post-transfer and early in pregnancy to minimize the risk of miscarriage.
Yoga, in addition to helping build muscle strength and flexibility, can also help improve blood flow to your reproductive organs. It also helps with relaxation and stress management and can provide a much-needed diversion from cycling and fertility treatments. Like acupuncture, some fertility centers offer yoga classes for their patients, while others can refer you to local yoga studios that offer fertility-centered classes. Or consider taking a generic class that lets you escape for an hour or so on the yoga mat – many find that experience to be helpful and refreshing as well.
Infertility Support Group
There are plenty of infertility or even surrogacy-specific support groups around, if not in person (clearly more common the closer you live to a big city), then online. RESOLVE, the national association dedicated to infertility, has many chapters across the country with in-person support groups that regularly. And you can find virtual support for your journey with kindred spirits on one of the many websites dedicated to infertility or surrogacy.
Coping with the emotions of your fertility treatments and surrogacy journey can feel like a heavy load at times. When chatting with support groups, whether online or in person, doesn’t fully relieve you of your stress, a therapist who specializes in fertility issues can help you process through your thoughts. Your fertility center either has a social worker on staff or coordinates with one (and you may have already met them when you started), so don’t be afraid to get in touch with them. Just having a knowledgeable, yet uninvolved person (unlike friends or family who mean well but may not know how to be helpful) to talk with can help you sort out and relieve the concerns that weigh on you.
While some people enjoy the gentle ease of yoga classes, others like to get a good sweat going to relieve their stresses. If you’re not a regular exerciser already, it’s valuable to spend at least a few sessions with a personal trainer to design a workout routine that will help you toward your fertility goals, whether it’s weight loss or just improving your fitness. For exercise to be most beneficial, it’s important that you maintain the proper intensity level – not so easy that it’s a waste of time, but not so difficult that it depletes your energy stores. Plus getting into a healthy exercise routine now will help you stay in the groove once your baby arrives, when you’ll need all the energy you can muster!
Although you aren’t the one giving birth to your baby, this is still your birth. A doula typically helps the pregnant woman prepare for the birth and supports her through labor, delivery, and in some cases, the first few days or weeks after baby’s arrival. In a surrogacy arrangement, a doula can support your gestational carrier through her labor and delivery, or she can help the intended mother through the birth preparations and in the initial days/weeks after her baby’s arrival, or she can do both. Many doulas are experienced working with entire families so don’t be afraid to ask for what you need for your own unique surrogacy situation.
In addition to taking photos of the birth (when you will undoubtedly be wrapped up in the details of your baby’s arrival), a photographer can also work with you during your surrogate’s pregnancy to record the special time. You may want belly shots of your gestational carrier, but don’t forget to include yourself and your partner during this special time, too.
Meal Delivery Service
Your surrogate may enjoy not having to cook once in a while during those exhausting last months of pregnancy, and the same applies to after she gives birth and is recovering. Meal delivery is a thoughtful and welcome gift for this time. But don’t forget yourself and your needs – you’re going to be taking care of a newborn 24/7 for a while, which is exhausting in itself. By planning ahead and ordering a few extra meals to be delivered during the first month or so of your baby’s arrival, you’re giving a much-deserved gift to yourself while you focus on getting to know your new little one.
Are there any others you would include? If so, please share in the comments below!