Postpartum is a health and wellness term that refers to the time after childbirth. This is a critical time for pregnant mothers, marked by a steep adjustment in getting used to the feeling of not being pregnant anymore.
Health professionals note that most women typically experience “baby blues” after giving birth and that they subside in between 3 to 5 days.
This term is associated with symptoms like severe mood swings, excessive sadness, insomnia, panic attacks, severe anxiety, intense irritability, hopelessness, recurrent thoughts of death, and feelings of shame, inadequacy, and guilt.
When these symptoms do not abate in a few days, a woman can be said to have postpartum depression.
Untreated, postpartum depression may last for months and even evolve into postpartum psychosis. This condition is marked by confusion and disorientation, paranoia, obsessive thoughts about the baby, and hallucinations and delusions.
Do surrogates get postpartum?
Surrogacy becomes a significant part of one’s life even before fertility treatments begin. When getting medical evaluations and meeting intended parents, some sense of anticipation begins to build up in readiness of the critical time.
When surrogacy comes to an end and the baby is transferred to its parents, surrogates may feel empty and lost.
While a traditional pregnancy can feel and look the same as a surrogacy pregnancy, the similarities end at birth. This is because the biggest difference between surrogacy and conventional pregnancy is that the surrogate does not keep the child after birth.
This is an experience that can make the baby blues much worse, owing to a general feeling within the surrogate mother that she is missing an important part of herself.
Experts indicate that it is not uncommon for surrogates to experience postpartum, with these experiences being comparable to how the women had previous experiences with their children.
This experience is more jarring because of the sharp shift in responsibility that may take some more time to come to terms with.
There are many psychological issues evaluated and addressed during the initial screening that potential surrogates undergo before starting the process.
Clinical interviewers review surrogacy candidates’ history to identify women who previously experienced traumatic outcomes from which unresolved feelings may arise during the stressful period of pregnancy.
This is an important part of screening which ensures the minimal possibility of adverse psychological tendencies and conditions that can negatively affect pregnancy. This is done to gauge how well an inquiring surrogate can handle the surrogacy
Clinical evaluations for surrogates also include standardized personality tests, MMPI-2, and evaluation with an agency psychologist.
However, maternal health experts indicate that there are no definitive tests that can identify issues that predict postpartum depression. Symptoms that magnify postpartum depression can be aggravated by surrogacy agreements.
How do surrogates recover from postpartum depression?
Recovering from postpartum without a baby can be challenging. Surrogates can begin preparing for postpartum by setting realistic goals and expectations for the surrogacy journey.
An effective way of preparing for birth is for a surrogate mother to surround herself with supportive family members and friends.
A surrogate mother also ought to talk to other experienced surrogates and ask about how they dealt with their unique situations. This grounded opinion can help surrogates relate to their experience and begin to figure out how they may address the issue in their context.
Surrogates cope with postpartum by focusing on the positive. In typical pregnancies, there is the excitement of setting up a nursery, choosing baby names, and making other preparations for the baby’s imminent arrival.
In surrogacy, there is the honor and joy of gifting a couple with a priceless addition to their families. Surrogates are urged to focus on the look on the faces of parents as they get to hold their precious gift for the first time.
Another means of postpartum recovery after surrogacy is getting back to an active and healthy lifestyle. One upside of not having a newborn to care for round the clock is having some freedom to heal and lose the baby weight.
Moving around, eating healthy, and being active once surrogates feel ready greatly aids their healing process and is a good psychological remedy to depressive thoughts and sadness.
Postpartum can be extreme for many, and therefore maternal health experts recommend seeking treatment if the signs of depression are prolonged.
Surrogates are urged to be open with others about how they are feeling, and to attend counseling and therapy if they are still having trouble. There are effective medical treatments for extreme symptoms of postpartum symptoms.
Accessories that help to heal
Pregnancy in general is very stressful for the human body and there are a few accessories that can help recovering women feel better. These include;
Perineal pain is an unfortunate side effect of childbirth that makes it comfortable when sitting down, lying down, or even walking. Sitting on a donut-shaped pillow can alleviate pressure typically caused by a seat, couch, or bed.
Even after delivery, women continue to feel contraction-like pains and abdominal pressure. This is attributed to the stomach and uterine shrinking, and any gas that may be trapped, all of which are more common in people who have undergone c-sections.
Belly bands are shaped like girdles and can speed up uterine shrinking and alleviate abdominal pains.
Postpartum depression occurs in between 10-20% of women and is recognized within the first few months of delivery. Some of the risk factors include previous depression, inadequate social support, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Postpartum depression is a serious affliction that can affect a woman’s ability to cater to herself, her family members, and others around her.
It rarely matters whether a woman is carrying a baby for another person or whether she is carrying her pregnancy. Experts have repeatedly indicated that the root causes for postpartum depression are typically the same.Generally, surrogates should try to give themselves time to recover and heal both physically and mentally. To find out how other surrogate mothers go through the postpartum recovery process, engage with members of our surrogacy community to learn more.