When you’re an expectant intended parent, you’ll probably do a lot worrying about your surrogate mother and baby—but that’s to be expected. One of the biggest concerns among intended parents, however, is how the surrogate is going to react once the baby is born.  What is her bond with the baby going to be like after birth? Is she going to feel attached to the baby in any way? These questions are completely valid and you have every right to feel ask them.

In the initial Surrogate Parenting Services surrogate screening, it is crucial that the candidate already have at least one child that she has given birth to and parented. If she has not had a pregnancy and parenting experience, it would be impossible for her to give any level of informed consent and it may be difficult for her to empathize with the parent and the child. In addition to that, it is a risky endeavor for a doctor to endorse a women without any such obstetrical histories.

One of the reasons it’s great to work with a surrogacy agency like SPS is the screening process. When surrogates apply through us, they are interviewed by a skilled, licensed psychiatrist for about 3-4 hours. This psychological evaluation occurs before any medications are administered or any embryo transfers take place. This evaluation allows the potential carrier the chance to really think about these issues. At SPS, we feel that psychological stability is one of the most essential requirements for being a surrogate mother.

The clinical interviewer reviews the candidates’ history in an attempt to screen out women who have traumatic histories from which unresolved feelings may surface during stressful conditions. The interviewer also addresses the candidate’s motivation. It is crucial that the candidate obtain something for herself beyond financial remuneration. If she cannot focus on the greater good of the service she is performing, then traits such as low self-esteem, low intelligence and martyr patterns should be evaluated.

What’s Behind A Surrogate Mother’s Postpartum Depression?

Although many psychological issues are addressed during the screening, no test can determine issues regarded postpartum depression, which can be magnified by the surrogacy arrangement. A surrogate may not be worried about feeling detached from the baby, but instead may feel lonely for her intended parents. The reason for this sometimes stems from the relationship each party has built up over the course of the nine month pregnancy. It should be understood that the relationship between the surrogate and her Intended Parents is more than just phone calls and emails. In reality, personal details and intimate experiences may have been shared. Can you think of anything more intimate than carrying a baby for someone else?

Let’s take a look at some of the signs of postpartum depression:

-Postpartum depression occurs in about 10-20% of women, usually within a few months of delivery.
-Risk factors include previous major depression, psychosocial stress, inadequate social support, and previous premenstrual dysphoric disorder. (If the surrogate has had previous bouts with depression she may not make a good candidate in the first place)
-Symptoms include depressed mood, tearfulness, inability to enjoy pleasurable activities, trouble sleeping, fatigue, appetite problems, suicidal thoughts, feelings of inadequacy or rejection, and impaired concentration.
-Postpartum depression can interfere with a woman’s ability to care for herself or her family.

It really doesn’t matter if it is a surrogate mother or a woman carrying her own pregnancy, the root causes for postpartum depression are essentially the same: hormones. Hormones play a huge role with fluctuating levels of cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone, all decreasing rapidly within 48 hours after giving birth.

Surrogate Mother Postpartum Depression Recovery

The responsibility of recovery is mainly on the surrogate herself. She should start by setting realistic expectations for the surrogacy and how to recover post-birth. A good strategy is to try and avoid isolation by surrounding herself with supportive friends and family, and making time to talk to other surrogates about how they dealt with the situation. If her postpartum depression lasts for more than 2 weeks, then she should talk to her midwife or doctor. They may recommend that she take tests and medications to deal with her more severe form of postpartum depression.

It should be noted that just because postpartum depression is a possibility for a surrogate, it does not mean that the surrogacy was not a success. As mentioned above, postpartum depression can happen to anyone in a birthing situation. Being concerned and aware of this possibility is not only wise, but shows caring and respect for someone who has offered the greatest gift to her intended parents, the gift of life.