Pregnant woman touching belly

Those on the surrogate journey often wonder if maternity leave for surrogates or maternity leave for intended parents is possible. Although surrogacy is a beautiful and celebrated way of beginning or growing a family, many don’t quite know how to talk about it with their employers. Do the same rules that apply to most pregnant women apply to a surrogate mother? Do intended parents get time off to take care of their new bundle of joy before returning to the workforce? How long is maternity leave and how is it compensated? 

If you have these questions or more, read on and prepare to put your mind at ease when it comes to maternity leave for surrogates and those in the surrogacy process. 

What Is Maternity Leave? 

Maternity leave is an important employment benefit designed to support and accommodate the needs of pregnant employees before and after childbirth. It is a period of authorized time off from work granted to expectant mothers, allowing them to focus on their health, the well-being of their unborn child, and the initial stages of parenting without the physical or mental stress of work responsibilities. Maternity leave is typically a combination of paid and unpaid time off. The duration varies widely depending on where you live and who you work for. 

During maternity leave, women have the opportunity to recover from childbirth, establish a bond with their newborn, and adapt to the challenges of parenthood, such as a change in sleep schedule. Maternity leave not only promotes the physical and mental health of mothers but also contributes to fostering a family-friendly workplace, recognizing the importance of work-life balance for its employees.

Do Surrogates Get Maternity Leave?

For surrogate mothers, it’s common to question whether or not you are entitled to maternity leave. While you may not be bringing a baby home, it’s important to note that you are eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as long as you meet standard eligibility criteria. 

Under FMLA, gestational carriers can take up to 12 weeks of maternity leave, despite it being unpaid, to address the “serious medical condition” associated with pregnancy. Although the focus is not on childcare, this time off is crucial for the physical recovery process, and it ensures job protection for the duration of the 12-week period.

Can You Work While Being a Surrogate?

Yes, you can work while being a surrogate. However, if you typically work on weekdays, you might need to take time off for various medical and psychological screenings, doctors’ appointments, the embryo transfer day, and OBGYN appointments. Proactively informing your employer about these obligations allows them to better plan for this time. 

Depending on the nature of your job, you may need to modify your responsibilities at work to accommodate your new role as a surrogate. These adjustments could include adding in more frequent restroom breaks and the flexibility to sit down more often. No heavy lifting will be allowed while pregnant. Open communication with your employer ensures a smoother balance between your professional commitments and surrogate responsibilities.

How to Qualify for Maternity Leave for Surrogate Mothers

If you’re curious about whether you qualify for maternity leave as a surrogate under FMLA, know that specific requirements must be met. 

To be eligible for FMLA, you need to be employed by a covered employer, have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the 12 months preceding maternity leave, work at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius, and have completed 12 months of employment with the current employer.

How to Talk To Your Employer About Maternity Leave for a Surrogate

Starting a conversation with your employer about surrogate maternity leave is crucial in ensuring a smooth transition during and after your surrogate pregnancy. Transparency is key, and sharing pertinent details about your surrogacy journey, as much as you feel comfortable, is important. While your job is protected, notifying your employer enables proper handling of responsibilities during your maternity leave as a surrogate.

To prepare for this discussion, you might want to speak with your surrogacy attorney beforehand. They can provide insights into local labor laws and eligible compensation policies. Create a list of talking points and questions to articulate your intentions clearly. 

Here are some tips to guide you through the preparation:

  • Wait to tell your employer about the pregnancy until you reach the 20-week mark, allowing time for crucial developments in the surrogacy process.
  • As the surrogate, decide whether you wish to disclose that you are carrying a gestational pregnancy.
  • Avoid committing to a fixed timeframe for your absence from work; surrogates may recover at varying rates, and it’s crucial to prioritize your well-being during maternity leave.
  • Consider what information you want to share with your co-workers about the pregnancy, providing insights into the surrogacy process if you choose to do so.

Parental Leave For Intended Parents

Parental leave for intended parents is important to consider and acknowledges that there are diverse paths to parenthood. As more individuals and couples turn to surrogacy, adoption, or other assisted reproductive technologies to build their families, the concept of parental leave extends beyond traditional maternity and paternity scenarios. 

Recognizing the importance of bonding and adjusting to new family dynamics, the FMLA does not discriminate when it comes to parental leave for anyone welcoming a child into their home. Companies are trying to match this with weeks of paid parental leave to acknowledge the unique challenges and joys associated with the journey to parenthood. These weeks provide the necessary flexibility and time for intended parents to actively participate in the early stages of their child’s life. So don’t be afraid to advocate for inclusive parental leave policies in your workplace. It is an important step in ensuring that all parents can fully take part in this life-changing moment. 

Do You Get Maternity Leave If You Use A Surrogate? 

Yes, you can take maternity leave if you use a surrogate. The availability and duration of such leave might vary depending on where you live and who you work for. But under the FMLA, any new parent can take 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave if they are welcoming a new child into their home. The key here is that this time is unpaid. You are guaranteed your job when you return, but only you can decide if you can afford 12 weeks without income. 

Do Fathers Get Parental Leave If They Used A Surrogate? 

Yes, fathers may have 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave under FMLA. Paid parental leave, however, is a topic that you might have to discuss with your employer. 

Parental leave for fathers is gaining more and more attention in the workplace. Numerous companies are adding in a few weeks of paid parental leave for fathers as a benefit. These policies aim to acknowledge the shared responsibilities and joys of parenting. However, the availability and duration of parental leave for fathers in surrogacy situations can vary depending on specific workplace policies and regulations. It often involves open communication with employers to understand the extent of support available. As conversations around families continue to evolve, advocating for inclusive parental leave policies that encompass the unique dynamics of surrogacy becomes essential, ensuring that fathers, too, can actively participate in the early stages of their child’s life.

How To Talk To Your Employer If You Are Intended Parents

Talking to your employer as intended parents requires thoughtful preparation and effective communication. Here are some ways to prepare: 

  • Begin by familiarizing yourself with company policies regarding parental leave, as well as any legal framework that may be applicable.
  • Consider timing. It’s best to disclose your plans to your employer around the 20-week mark, allowing for developments in the surrogacy process. 
  • Be transparent about your intentions and provide relevant details, assuring your employer that you have considered the impact on your workload and have a plan in place. 
  • Prepare a list of talking points and questions, seeking guidance on the company’s stance on parental leave for intended parents. 
  • Discuss the flexibility you may need during crucial stages of the surrogacy journey. 


By having open lines of communication, you can foster understanding and collaboration for a smoother transition into your parental leave. 

Talk To The Experts At Surrogacy By Faith

Are you ready to take the next step in the surrogacy journey? Contact us at Surrogacy By Faith where we can answer your questions about maternity leave and so much more. 

Starting out with the right agency will make your journey much more rewarding and fulfilling. Surrogacy By Faith is a California-based agency that prides itself on providing the most supportive and nurturing environment to our surrogates. We take the extra time to match you with the perfect intended parents so that the interpersonal connections run deeper than at other surrogacy agencies.  

If you’re interested in becoming a surrogate with us, please be sure to fill out our Surrogate Initial Inquiry form. There’s no need to wait another day! 

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