There are such a low number of surrogacy births in Australia each year (somewhere between 50 and 70 in total), that it is no surprise that many hospitals will rarely come across a surrogacy birth. As a result, hospital surrogacy policies can be outdated or inflexible, and don’t apply to a surrogacy arrangement the way the parties envisaged.

For example, some hospital surrogacy policies will declare that only the birth mother can feed the baby, and not the intended parents. They may also refuse to allow the intended parents to remain in hospital with the baby, pressuring them to leave after visiting hours and leave the baby in the birth mother’s care.

If you are planning a surrogacy birth in a hospital, I encourage you to read about surrogacy birth planning, and also about milk and feeding a surrogacy baby.

There are a few things that are really important for a surrogacy pregnancy and birth, including that the surrogate maintains her bodily autonomy, and her privacy should be respected. Having a baby does not negate her own rights to privacy and autonomy, even where the baby is intended to be for other parents. Most teams will have agreements about the sharing of information and decision-making, which is great. As long as the care providers and the parties understand that she has not waived her rights to autonomy, agreements can allow for sharing information in accordance with her wishes.

If the hospital is looking for ways to accommodate a surrogacy pregnancy and birth, they may be interested in reading the Best Practice Guidelines for Surrogacy Births, which you can download and provide to the hospital if you wish.

Some hospitals will have their own lawyers review the agreement and advise about whether the intended parents can care for the baby and leave the hospital with the baby separately to the birth mother. Sometimes, the hospital will request a document with the birth parents’ consent to the intended parents caring for and leaving hospital with the baby. Such a document can be drafted yourself, and otherwise I can assist with drafting a document, as well as discussing the issue with the hospital staff if necessary,

If you are facing hurdles with your chosen care providers, request a meeting with the relevant staff (such as the Nurse Unit Manager, or hospital Social Worker), and get in touch if you need any assistance. You can read more about my Surrogacy Pregnancy and Birth Planning Package.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I advocate for positive, best practice surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.