Episode 41 – Education – The Fourth Trimester
The fourth trimester refers to the first three months after birth. This episode salutes one phenomenal resource which surrogacy teams should ALL use as their road map “Surrogate Post Birth Emotional Needs – A Guide for Intended Parents” by Psychologist Katrina Hale.
Pair this episode with episode 37 – The Third Trimester.
Katrina Hale’s podcast on the Fourth Trimester in the Resources section of her website.
This page is part of a series of surrogacy education episodes from Anna. On the main podcast page you will find recent episodes and links to other categories: surrogates, gay dads, straight mums and guest / theme.
Join Anna McKie in conversation with surrogates and parents who have navigated Australian altruistic surrogacy. Anna is a gestational surrogate, high school Math teacher and surrogacy educator working with Surrogacy Australia and running SASS (Surrogacy Australia’s Support Service).
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The fourth trimester refers to the three months after birth. It is an exciting time for everyone in the surrogacy team as the IPs, intended parents, who are now parents, meet their baby and establish their bond. The surrogate has fulfilled her dream and gets to see her family or friends navigate having a newborn. If you haven’t listened to my previous education episode on the third trimester, I encourage you to go back to that at episode 37.
I list three experienced psychologists in that episode that you might like to engage with for a Zoom session at any time. One of those counselors is Katrina Hale and she has written a guide and I’ll put a link in the show notes for that. You can also find it on her website under resources. This guide is to help IPs and surrogates know what needs to be provided to surrogates in the days, weeks and months post birth to help her transition hormonally and emotionally. She calls this transition Head Heart Hormones.
and she says, A surrogate knows in her head and heart that she has given birth to your baby, but at a hormonal, physical, instinctive, primal level. Her body only knows that she has just given birth and it believes that she is now responsible for the care of a newborn. Thus, we need to respect Mother Nature and make this a gentle transition.
It takes time and support for the surrogate’s hormones to come into alignment with her head and heart. A surrogate also needs to know that what she has done for you is recognized and appreciated, that she will not be forgotten, discarded and written out of the story, now you have your baby. Navigating post-birth relationships can also be complex. IPs are adjusting to parenting a newborn and your team needs to navigate their new roles, connections and boundaries now the intensity of pregnancy and birth is over.
The support described in this guide is different to the additional domestic, child care and practical support a surrogate might need post-birth. This type of support needs to be arranged and put in place prior to birth. As you can hear there from Katrina, it is a complex time, but it is amazing when the team gets it right. Katrina has recorded a podcast on the fourth trimester and that can be found on her website too under resources. A brief summary of what teams need to plan for. The first few days post-birth being a doorway apart.
The first two weeks post-birth, being only 15 minutes apart and daily visits. The first three months being a phone call away with regular visits and frequent contact and photos. Physical supports for the surrogate as she recovers from birth. Emotional support for the surrogate as she navigates hormones. Balancing the needs of the parents and the surrogate and recruiting friends and family to help. Well, that’s the fourth trimester in a snapshot. It’s one of the most vulnerable times for the surrogate and it can be a hard gig for the IPs.
It’s important for all team members to have ongoing counselling in this time, individually and as a team, and also to connect with the Surrogacy community, so both VIPs and Surrogate can talk to their peers who have been on this journey before them. If you’re looking for more support from me, one-on-one, for you individually and for your Surrogacy team, register for SAS at surrogacyaustralia.org and think of me as your Siri for Surrogacy. Until next time, welcome to the Village.
Looking to find a surrogate in Australia? Consider joining SASS.
Looking for an overview of surrogacy? Join us in a free, fortnightly Wednesday night webinar.
Looking to chat with other IPs and surrogates in a casual setting? Join us for a monthly Zoom catch up, one Friday of each month.