When entering a surrogacy arrangement, it is important that the parties spend some time setting expectations between them, to provide clarity and avoid stumbling blocks ahead.

If you are new to surrogacy as an intended parent, you might like to start with this post. If you are a potential future surrogate, this post provides some information.

I’ve written a book, More Than Just a Baby: A Guide to Surrogacy for Intended Parents and Surrogates, the only guide to surrogacy in Australia.

When travelling down the surrogacy path, setting expectations is the most important part in the relationship between the surrogate (and her partner, if she has one) and the intended parents. It is important that we spend time setting expectations before going on our surrogacy journey.  Rather than just hoping, or ‘feeling’ that everyone is on the same page, it is much better to commit some time and energy to setting expectations and building the relationship and trust between you.  The list of issues that you need to discuss when setting expectations is endless – but arguably fall into five main categories. The categories are –

  1. Before Conception
  2. During Pregnancy
  3. Labour and Birth
  4. Fourth Trimester & Beyond
  5. Financial Arrangements

At the Surrogacy Sisterhood Day, we spend some time workshopping those expectations, so that we know what topics we need to discuss with our intended parents. Some of the things we come up with are listed below – remember these lists are no exhaustive, but might assist in developing your own list and start conversations in your own team.

Expectations – Before Conception

  • Communication – frequency, methods
  • Time frames
  • Legals – which lawyers, when
  • Counselling – clinic or private, when
  • Childcare arrangements for surrogacy appointments
  • Meeting up and spending time together
  • When to tell others of the plans
  • Social media sharing and tagging
  • Number of pregnancy attempts
  • Embryo creation and quality
  • Geographical logistics
  • Political views
  • Taking time out (“Annual Leave”)
  • Mental Health support

Expectations – During Pregnancy

Expectations – Labour and Birth

  • Birth plans – hospital, home
  • Type of birth, pain relief
  • Support persons, doula/private midwife
  • C-section arrangements – who will be in theatre
  • When surrogate will tell the intended parents she is in labour
  • Childcare arrangements
  • Travel to hospital
  • Birth photographer
  • Who ‘catches’ baby
  • Skin-to-skin
  • Cord Clamping
  • Colostrum, Milk and feeding
  • Rooms and arrangements at hospital
  • Leaving hospital
  • Surrogate’s family to visit
  • Placenta
  • Announcing the birth to others
  • Social Media sharing and tagging

Expectations – Fourth Trimester and Beyond

  • Vaccinations
  • Medical treatment
  • Cuddle time with surrogate
  • Contact arrangements – visits, frequency, logistics
  • Photographs
  • Social media sharing and tagging
  • Timeframe for intended parents to return home (if not local)
  • Milk and feeding
  • Paperwork for birth registration and Parentage Order
  • Counselling and mental health support
  • Ongoing future contact
  • Language and roles – Aunty, Birth Mother, Tummy Mummy…?
  • Asking for help

Expectations – Financial Arrangements

  • Intended parents capacity to fund the surrogacy
  • List of expected expenses
  • Surrogate and partner’s time off for appointments
  • Payment arrangements – reimbursement, EFT, bank card access for surrogate
  • Communication – appointing ‘spokespersons’ for each couple

If you are looking to write your own lists of expectations, you can use this template.

Extra special thanks to Carla Pincombe and her intended parents for the template, and to the Sisterhood women who contributed to the above lists.

You can find more information about surrogacy and donor conception in the free Surrogacy Handbook, reading articles in the Blog, by listening to more episodes of the Surrogacy Podcast. You can also book in for a consult with me below, and check out the legal services I provide.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford (she/her). I’m a family creation lawyer, practising in surrogacy and donor conception arrangements. I’m 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.

more than just a baby