When it comes to pregnancy and delivery plans, there seem to be two different types of people – those who prepare for every possible scenario and desires that may arise during delivery, and those who decide to cross the bridge when they reach it and make real-time decisions. Each approach has its advantages, but when it comes to surrogacy, planning is not only valuable but a necessity.
What’s a delivery plan?
A delivery plan is essentially an important setting of expectation of the birth process, decision-making, and agreements between you and the surrogate (and sometimes her partner) regarding how things should be handled, the atmosphere and the actions to take during the delivery. Drafting a birth plan is a crucial way to ensure that your wishes (and those of the surrogate mother) are respected while in the hospital.
What does a typical birth plan entail?
A typical birth plan includes a wide range of topics, such as (but not limited to):
- Medical preparations for childbirth
- When to seek out medical care
- Where the person carrying the pregnancy should give birth
- How they would like the baby’s health to be monitored during childbirth
- Eating and drinking during childbirth
- Whether the person giving birth is interested in utilizing painkillers or not
- Who should participate in the childbirth and in what role
- Delivery room arrangements including lighting and temperature
- How they would like to manage the newborn pushing phase (i.e. directed by a nurse or doctor or not)
- Birthing positions the person giving birth would like to use
- Who will be the one receiving the newborn baby
- Who will cut the umbilical cord
- Who will hold the baby for the first time
- When and where the baby’s vital measurements and signs will be taken immediately after birth
- How the baby will suckle
- Where the baby sleeps at night
Many of the topics that will appear in the birth plan are topics that you (the intended-parents) may have already discussed with your gestational carrier during the matching process or during the pregnancy. For the most part, writing a birth plan is a process where you write your wishes and expectations on paper. The only outstanding case is the paperwork concerning the birth certificate and custody of the baby – this is a matter regulated in accordance with local laws and the hospital policy.
Additional Considerations for Those Using Surrogacy
In cases of surrogacy, there are a host of other considerations to take into account in your birth plan, including the legal paperwork that may be required while you are in the hospital, or even before the birth. These laws and regulations vary from country to country, and may also differ depending on the country in which the surrogate (gestational carrier) lives, the country in which she is giving birth, and the country in which the intended parents live. That is why it is important to work with an attorney who specializes in laws that apply to your specific surrogacy arrangement.
With that said, since the baby theoretically has three parents (the woman who gave birth to the baby and both baby’s parents), it is important to establish legally, through HIPAA and other hospital papers, who can make decisions for the baby, and who will wear the hospital bracelet and thus be given access to the hospital’s nursery.
Birth Plan Topics
Your birth plan topics related to pregnancy and childbirth are:
- Where do you intend to give birth?
- Who will be present during the hospitalization and/or birth?
- Which pain relief options would you prefer if any?
- Special requests for music, pictures or other means for childbirth support.
- How the contractions phase will be managed (doctor/midwife or not).
- Who should receive the baby?
- Who will cut the umbilical cord?
- In the case of cesarean birth, who should enter the operating room.
- What pictures or videos will be taken and whether there are any uncomfortable angles?
- How will the baby feed after birth?
- Where will the intended parents stay while the baby is in the hospital?
- Who will bear the hospital bracelet, and be granted access to a nursery room?
Your birth plan topics related to legal paperwork are:
- Which documents may be required by the hospital before the delivery?
- Which documents should you bring with you for the delivery?
- Which documents are you to fill in during your stay at the hospital?
- Which identification documents do you need at the hospital?
- Which decisions and procedures will not take place at the hospital (e.g. registration of Social Security number, review the separate article on the subject)
- A power of attorney or hospital form, authorizing the baby’s parents to make decisions about their child after he is born.
- How will the baby be discharged from the hospital?
As a separate document, you may want to have a list of contacts and numbers for:
- Emergency contact of the surrogate mother’s family.
- Emergency contact of intended parents’ family.
- Contact details of the surrogate mother’s lawyer.
- Contact details of the intended parent’s lawyer.
- The surrogacy agency’s contact information, in case you were assisted by one.
Tips for Writing Your Birth Plan
You may have additional topics related to your unique situation or sections that you would like covered in the birth plan. We encourage you to add those and to be as clear as possible in these documents, without being aggressive. It’s important to list the necessary information without being overly complicated. Use clear, direct, and simple language to make it easier for the hospital staff to assist you.
Beyond the technical use for the hospital staff, especially in the case of surrogacy, writing a Delivery and Birth Plan is an opportunity to make sure you, your partner, and your surrogate discuss your preferences and come to agreements together. It’s crucial to discuss your needs as well as your surrogate’s in order to avoid unpleasant situations in the delivery room. For example, the surrogate may prefer her husband at her side or prefer little attendance in the delivery room, or after delivery, she may want privacy (or vice versa). The goal of developing the plan is to reduce stress and communication is key to an easy and embracing birth process.