Postpartum depression: it’s a source of anxiety for many new parents – and yes – it can happen even in surrogacy. But fear not, as there are ways you can be prepared to tackle postpartum depression head-on.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression happens when you feel a sense of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness that goes beyond the normal “baby blues.” Whether you are a surrogate or intended parent, postpartum depression can happen.
For some families, welcoming a new child into the world can come with a litany of emotions and complicated feelings; some completely unexpected. No matter how much you wanted to have a child, not everyone automatically connects to their newest editions, and not everyone adjusts to the new life of parenthood as easily as others.
You may think that families who opt for surrogacy are unlikely to experience postpartum depression.
While this may be true for some families, there are plenty of other families who, after wishing for a child for so long, find themselves in a state of emptiness, exhaustion, and sadness. Surrogates, too, can experience postpartum issues, often due to a combination of hormones and emotional factors, like the sudden change of life after giving birth.
That’s why it’s important to know the signs of postpartum depression, as well as to make sure that you have a support system in place to help you if you are struggling.
Postpartum Depression As A Surrogate
A common misconception about surrogacy is that surrogates will become connected to the baby they are carrying to the point where they don’t want to give the child up after delivery.
While it’s true that surrogates typically don’t develop feelings for the child they are carrying to this degree, leaving the hospital without a baby after being pregnant for nine months can be a source of sadness for some surrogates. Coupled with the crazy surge of hormones your body is battling after you deliver, you may be at risk for developing postpartum depression.
Postpartum Depression As An Intended Parent
Despite not having that same rush of hormones your surrogate experienced after delivery, you can still be susceptible to postpartum depression too. Postpartum depression can develop from things like stress, for example.
Finally meeting your new baby and bringing them home is something you’ve dreamed of for so long, and not feeling the way you think you should can be devastating. You may even feel angry, guilty, or frustrated with yourself for not feeling what you think you’re supposed to feel when you meet your new baby.
Additionally, new parents of surrogacy-born children can also have trouble bonding with their new baby. This is common for all new parents to experience, not just parents of surrogacy-born children. Children are hard, and they come with a ton of challenges – sleep woes, feeding schedules, crying for what seems like no reason at all… the list goes on.
Essentially, for intended parents, the journey to parenthood is often long and strenuous, and it can be difficult to return to a sense of normalcy once you finally bring your new baby home.
The bottom line is that postpartum depression can really affect both surrogates and new parents. Growing a baby and taking care of a newborn are both difficult, life-altering tasks that tons of people struggle to cope with. Know that you’re not alone if you’re experiencing this emotional journey.
What Are The Signs Of Postpartum Depression?
There are many symptoms of postpartum depression, some obvious and some not-so-obvious. Every person will experience things differently. However, here are some of the most common signs of postpartum depression for both surrogates and intended parents:
- Feelings of intense sadness
- Feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, or emptiness
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Loss of interest in activities
- Thoughts of harming yourself
- Increased irritability and mood swings
- Changes in eating habits
For intended parents, some more specific signs of postpartum depression may include these symptoms:
- Difficulty bonding with the baby
- Avoiding being around the baby
- Obsessively worrying over the baby
- Spending less time with friends and family members
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
How To Manage Postpartum Depression After Surrogacy
If you’re finding yourself experiencing postpartum depression after surrogacy, know that there are lots of options out there to help you deal with these intense life changes and to heal. Many former surrogates and new parents of surrogacy-born babies have improved their mental health by reaching out for help!
Here are a few ways you can get help after surrogacy:
Reach Out To Your Support System
Talk to your friends and family members. Be open with them about your struggles! Rely on them for emotional support, as well as support in helping you with everyday tasks, like tending to your home or bringing you meals.
Talk To A Professional
Talking about postpartum issues with your friends and family members may be comforting but not always healing. It may help to talk to a professional, like a licensed counselor, to help navigate your mind to a more positive state. There are many licensed professionals who specialize in postpartum care who can be there for you.
Consider Starting A Conversation With Your Doctor
For some, talking it out is just not enough. Medication, like antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, can be super helpful in getting your mind back up and running and back to where it should be. Even a very low dose can be beneficial for some.
Join A Support Group
In addition to talking to friends, family members, and mental health professionals, it may also be helpful to talk about your postpartum issues in a support group. Consider finding a support group for other former surrogates or parents of children born via surrogacy. Talking to people who have had similar experiences can help you feel less alone, and it can even help you find potential solutions that have helped other people who have been in your shoes.
Participate In Self-Care
It may not seem like it, but self-care is extremely important. The old saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” is more than just an expression. Drinking enough water and eating healthy, exercising, and taking time to relax your mind, such as by taking a warm bath, are all great ways to engage in self-care. These are small things you can do that can make a big impact on your mental health.
There Is No Shame In Seeking Help
If you are experiencing thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, dial the toll-free 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number, 988.
Understand that postpartum depression can happen to anyone, even surrogates and intended parents. You are not alone.
If you are in need of help with postpartum depression, contact us at Family Inceptions. We can refer you to resources that can help you.