Prenatal attachment is the bonding between the parents and the growing fetus during the pregnancy. The unique bond that is established during and after the pregnancy is crucial as it lays the foundation for the child's mental and emotional development. No pressure intended parents, pause and take a deep breath here.
The number one question surrogates are asked is, "What if you get attached to the baby?" More often than not, surrogates admit that they do not become as attached to the surrogate baby as they did with their own. Surrogates understand that they are the oven that nurtures the bun, but the bun ultimately belongs to the intended parent or parents.
Here are five steps the intended parent or parents can take to ensure they are properly bonding with the baby during and after the pregnancy. Not only must a bond be established while the fetus is developing inside the surrogate's womb, but an emotional transfer must take place when the baby exits the womb and enters the world.
1. Grieve Your Losses
"“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore, trust the physician and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.” - Kahlil Gibran
Most intended parents arrive at the idea of surrogacy after experiencing many devastating rounds of IVF. It is vital to process the grief of all that was lost during your infertility battle. Processing your pain, suffering, and disappointment will help you to completely focus on bonding with the baby before and after they enter the world.
2. Involve Yourself in the Pregnancy
Involving yourself along the surrogacy journey is the most important step in bonding with the process. Consistent involvement will bring a sense of connectedness and excitement. There are steps you can take to ensure you are immersing yourself in the journey.
During the matching phase of the process, you will have the ability to set the tone for communication. How often do you wish to communicate with your surrogate? All surrogates appreciate open communication with their intended parent or parents. Communicating with your surrogate builds trust and understanding in your relationship.
If you are able to, attending the surrogates medical appointments is a way to be to stay up to date and bond with the developing baby. At about 18 weeks of pregnancy the baby beings to hear sounds. The baby's sensitivity to sound will intensify as they develop from this point on. If you are unable to physically make it to the surrogate's appointments it is important that you and the surrogate communicate either via facetime or a phonecall after the appointments.
The more you talk to the baby the more you will feel connected to them and they to you. Which is crucial to prepare for the moment the surrogate mother transfers your child to you. Another way you can communicate with your baby is to record yourself reading books, singing songs, and just simply having conversations with the baby. Send the voice recordings to the surrogate mother and she can play them for the baby so they develop a sense for you.
3. Physical Contact
Once the surrogate gives birth to your child it is important that the baby's senses are confirmed, so the transfer isn't abrupt and the baby feels safe in their environment. The best way to do this is the surrogate holds the baby to their chest so the senses are recognizable. There is a small chance that the surrogate mother is not emotionally prepared to hold the baby. In that case, they can simply touch their feet or hands so the baby recognizes their scent.
After the transfer, it is vital that you nourish your baby with as much skin to skin contact as you can. You will have a million chances to bond with your child for the remainder of their life, but constant physical touch is important to the attachment building process.
4. Provide a Transitional Item The surrogate mother can provide a transitional item for the baby's trip home, so they have a sense of familiarity. Surrogates can sleep with a stuffed animal or blanket throughout the pregnancy, so their scent is coated on the item.
Another unique idea is to ask your surrogate what their taste in music is. Music is an incredible conduit for establishing a sense of connection. Babies around the world have jammed out to the music their parents listen to from inside the womb. The surrogate mother can play their or the intended parent's favorite music, so when the baby goes home and hears the same music they will feel a sense of connection and attachment.
5. Patience Is A Virtue You have come so far on your journey already! Intended Parents are no strangers to being patient with time. Bonding isn't always immediate, it's a process. Good thing you have nine months to prepare for your child's arrival and plenty of opportunities to establish a connection. It's important to remain grounded and rooted in patience throughout the journey.
In Conclusion, we understand that bonding with a child that is not naturally conceived by you can be intimidating. We also understand the emotional toll that is placed on a surrogate when she bakes a bun that is not hers in her oven. Establishing open and honest communication between all parties is the keystone to building trust with each other. Talking about your feelings and channeling your emotions in a positive fashion is a tool that can keep anxiety and frustration at bay. The child's needs should be the number one priority for everyone involved. We know that becoming a surrogate and a parent is a monumentally selfless task. Patriot Conceptions is here to walk with you hand in hand along your journey.