Oftentimes a parent’s biggest concerns are how they will bond with their IVF baby. In the case of egg donation, a recipient mom undergoes the In Vitro Fertilization process to become pregnant with the help of an ovum donor. With surrogacy, the baby is carried by a surrogate mother for her intended parents who may or may not be using their own eggs and/or sperm. With either method, parents wonder if their bonding process might be impacted by either not sharing a genetic tie, or by not carrying the pregnancy themselves. Bonding is a special process, and it is important for intended parents to understand that it is not always the instantaneous connection seen in movies; bonding can be fast or it can be a journey and neither way is wrong. Even moms who birth their own biological children sometimes find that bonding isn’t automatic, and these unrealistic expectations may lead to baby blues or postpartum depression. There are many way for a parent to bond with their IVF baby. Here are a few suggestions:
Naming Your IVF Baby– Deciding on your baby’s name is a way to connect to the child you will be raising before they are born. If a surrogate mother is carrying your IVF baby you can also share this name with her and ask her to use it when talking to the baby (once they are able to hear voices from in the womb).
Decorating Your IVF Baby’s Nursery– Creating the space you will bring your IVF baby home to can make the pregnancy more tangible, especially if you are not able to carry yourself. This will be the space you will share special moments in once your baby arrives.
Talking to Your IVF Baby in the Womb- If you’re carrying then you can start talking to your baby from about the sixth month of pregnancy and on. Babiess even sometimes show a liking for a song they heard often in the womb. A surrogate mother can also help bridge this gap by playing recordings of your voice for your IVF baby. You might choose to record songs or stories for her to play for your baby.
Skin-to-Skin– As soon as your IVF baby is born, barring unforeseen complications, you can hold your baby and spend time skin to skin almost immediately post-birth. Skin to Skin time is beneficial for baby and parents alike, whether you’re a single parent, same sex couple, or heterosexual couple, you can bond with your baby through frequent contact.
Babywearing– You might also choose to wear your baby in a sling or baby carrier after they arrive, with a pediatrician’s approval. This is especially bonding for parents who were not able to carry their IVF baby, and for your baby being carried simulates their time in the womb and can be very soothing.
Remember that it is okay to feel instantly bonded to your baby even before the birth, or immediately after the birth and many IVF parents finding bonding very easy and natural. But if bonding takes time be patient with yourself and your IVF baby, you are getting to know each other. Every parenting journey is unique, and with time you will find your own natural rhythm. If you’re considering embarking on your path to parenthood through egg donation and/or surrogacy you can read more about getting started here.