How Skin-to-Skin Contact Works in Surrogacy

Parents of a baby born via surrogacy don’t have the opportunity to carry their baby in utero, which is how many parents emotionally and physically bond with their baby before he or she is born. But this certainly doesn’t mean that you’ll have a weaker bond with your child if they are born via surrogacy. It simply means that you might need to play catch-up and bond a little differently.

Like in any new relationship, you and your baby might need to spend some time working on your physical and emotional bond. Remember that families who come together through surrogacy love each other no more or less than any other family, and they’ll tell you that. It might be disappointing if you don’t feel that magical instant bond with your child right now, but don’t worry — it’ll happen!

This is where these surrogacy-specific bonding tactics come in.

The Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Contact

There have been many studies on the physical, emotional and mental benefits of skin-to-skin contact for babies and their parents. Here are some of the findings:

  • Healthy infants were shown to have reduced responses to painful stimuli like vaccinations, blood sampling, or cord cutting during skin-to-skin contact.
  • Babies cried less, were calmer and went to sleep more quickly when on their parents’ chests.
  • Newborns that had immediate skin-to-skin contact experienced physiological benefits that included improved thermoregulation, cardiopulmonary stabilization, blood glucose levels, enhanced oxygen saturation levels, breathing and sleep patterns.
  • For preterm infants who spend time in the NICU, skin-to-skin contact is even more important for brain development.
  • Skin-to-skin contact has been linked to decreased separation anxiety.
  • Reduced risks of hospital-acquired infection were shown in babies who received skin-to-skin contact, as they acclimated to the surrogate’s and intended parents’ bacteria and received the protective benefits of that bacteria.
  • The salivary cortisol levels (a biochemical marker for stress) were significantly decreased in all babies when the length of skin-to-skin increased beyond an hour. The levels continued to decrease with longer contact periods.

You can learn more about the research on skin-to-skin contact through these sources:

How to Do Skin-to-Skin Contact with Your Baby

Skin-to-skin contact is simple. When the baby is born, parents often like to place the naked baby on their bare chests as quickly as possible, for as long as possible, sometimes even while the baby is being cleaned and the cord is being cut. This is recommended for a minimum of an hour, if possible. You may have also heard this method called “Kangaroo Care.” Some parents will delay routine medical steps until after this bonding time if their baby is healthy and stable.

If you’re unable to have skin-to-skin contact with your child moments after he or she is born, don’t worry. Bonding through physical touch with your child is something that will continue to be beneficial to both of you as they grow up. Physical contact between a parent and their child is a good way to strengthen bonds, no matter when it starts.

If you do plan on trying to initiate skin-to-skin bonding with your baby at his or her birth, here are a few tips:

  • When packing to meet your baby at the hospital for the first time, include shirts that can be unbuttoned to allow quick access for skin-to-skin contact with your baby on your bare skin while preserving your modesty and comfort.
  • You and your surrogate will need to talk to your hospital nursing staff in advance about your wishes for skin-to-skin contact, and explain that you’re the intended parents in this birth plan. You’ll likely need to remind the hospital staff of these details in the busy aftermath of birth, but this way they’ll know not to swaddle the baby immediately, to avoid placing the baby into an incubator right away, or to hold off on some of the routine medical procedures like weighing your baby until after you’ve had time to hold him or her.
  • There are some studies that show that having skin-to-skin contact with the surrogate first may be beneficial for the baby, as a newborn is able to colonize her bacteria (maternal flora vs hospital flora) faster. This may reduce the chances of your child forming allergies and getting an infection. If everyone is comfortable with this, your baby’s health can benefit from this step, and then you would be able to have skin-to-skin contact with him or her next. This is another transitional step for your baby; remember that they’ve become attached to your surrogate in the previous nine months of development.

Remember to follow the advice of the hospital staff at your baby’s birth! Sometimes even carefully planned births don’t go exactly as we envisioned, so you may not be able to have that early skin-to-skin contact with your baby for whatever reason. Again, don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to bond with your child soon.

Other Ways to Bond with Your Baby

Bonding with a baby born through surrogacy doesn’t start and end at birth or is achieved solely through skin-to-skin contact. Here are a few ways you can bond with your baby before he or she is even born:

  • Talk to your baby in your surrogate’s womb. Try giving your surrogate a recording of your voice reading books to play to your baby through headphones on her belly so your child can hear your voice.
  • Give your surrogate a “transitional item.” This could be a teddy bear that your surrogate sleeps with that will later go home with you after the baby is born, so that your baby has the familiar scent of your surrogate to help her or him transition. This can help with “emotional transference.”
  • Stay active in the pregnancy process as much as your surrogate feels comfortable with. This is more for your sake than for your baby’s, but participating in your surrogate’s pregnancy and staying in touch with her can help you feel more like your baby is “yours” and facilitate your own emotional attachment.
  • If you want and are able to, you can try to breastfeed your baby. This is not a necessity for bonding with your child, but it can be a wonderful experience for both of you. Breastfeeding is possible for many intended parents with preparation.

On the other hand, there are some ways you can bond with your child after he or she is born. These are applicable not just to parents of children born via surrogacy but also for families who come together through adoption, “traditional” methods or any other way. Try these bonding tactics:

  • Give lots of gentle touch and physical affection. Hugs, baths, play time, holding hands, brushing hair, carrying your baby in a sling or just holding and cuddling your child is important for newborns as well as for young children.
  • Talk to your child. Studies have shown that talking to your children at any age vastly improves their language skills in addition to promoting bonding. Tell them the story of how they were born, sing to them, read them lots of books, give them verbal praise and affection or even just tell them again how much you love them.
  • Prioritize routines. Getting into a regular feeding and sleeping schedule can sometimes be tricky, particularly with newborns. However, the ritual of those routines will not only make your life a little easier, but your child may also benefit from the bonding time during those daily rituals. Bath times, getting dressed, feeding times, reading a book together in your arms before their nap, singing the bedtime song — whatever you do for your daily routines, try to use it as an opportunity to spend some quality time together and focus solely on your child.

With time, you’ll likely find ways of bonding that work best for you and your baby, because every family is different. In the meantime, don’t stress too much. The parent-child bond may or may not be immediate for you, but it’ll happen, and when it does, it’ll be just as strong as it is with any parent and child.

You can always contact an American Surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-BABY (2229) if you need additional post-surrogacy resources.

Thank You to Our Staff During National Social Work Month!

Social workers play a huge role in many different aspects of life. For those who build their family in a non-traditional way, social workers are the ones who ease them on their path and guide them through the complicated and emotional steps of adding to their family. Whether it’s through adoption or assisted reproduction, the help of social workers can be invaluable to those who have been dreaming of welcoming a child into their homes.

At American Surrogacy, we are so proud of the work that our amazing social workers do within our agency. Our team is headed by director Angie Newkirk, LBSW, who leads a group of social workers in daily activities aimed to make your surrogacy journey easier. We know how complicated surrogacy can be — for both intended parents and gestational carriers — and we are proud to be here to help in whatever way we can.

Our social workers are an implemental part of the surrogacy journey from start to finish. They work tirelessly day-in and day-out tackling the biggest responsibilities of managing a surrogacy journey:

  • Answering questions and explaining the process to prospective surrogates and intended parents
  • Screening intended parents and surrogates to make sure they are physically, mentally and emotionally ready for surrogacy
  • Finding the perfect surrogacy matches for intended parents and surrogates based on their personal preferences
  • Offering references for fertility clinics, gamete banks, surrogacy attorneys and other necessary professionals
  • Mediating contact between gestational carriers and their intended parents
  • Coordinating case details like medical coverage, insurance and other important details
  • Providing emotional support and counseling from start to finish of the surrogacy process
  • Advocating for intended parents and gestational carriers every step of the way
  • Creating a hospital and birth plan with intended parents and gestational carriers
  • Managing financial details such as surrogate compensation
  • And more

It’s a lot of work, but our social work team loves what they do. More importantly, they love being a part of your surrogacy journey and helping your surrogacy dreams come true.

So, for this year’s National Social Work Month, we’re sending our thanks out to our tireless team of social workers who have helped many intended parents and gestational carriers reach their personal surrogacy dreams. Want to get to know our social workers better, or start your own surrogacy journey today? Don’t be afraid to reach out by calling 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

What Diet Rules Can I Make for My Surrogate?

As an intended parent, you want what is best for your future child. This involves a crucial step: selecting the woman who will carry your child for the first nine months of their existence. You know that every gestational carrier has to meet certain requirements before being matched with you — but what if you have other requirements you want your surrogate to meet?

It’s completely normal for intended parents to have preferences when it comes to their gestational carrier. In many cases, your surrogacy specialist will work closely with you to match you with the perfect surrogate for your situation. Did you know that you will actively be involved in this search? That’s right — you will play a key role in finding the woman to carry your child.

Intended parents have a lot of questions when it comes to what they can specify in their gestational carrier, but one request seems to be trending in the recent years.

Can I set specific diet restrictions for my surrogate?

In the article below, we’ve delved a little more into this topic. However, the best person to talk to about your particular surrogate preferences will always be your surrogacy specialist. Don’t hesitate to reach out today to learn more.

Can I Request a Vegetarian or Vegan Surrogate?

There are a variety of trending diets today: keto, Whole30, carb-free, and more. Two of the most popular are vegetarian and vegan diets. For various reasons — including ethical and health — an increasing amount of people commit to eating no meat or animal products in their daily diet.

If you’re an intended parent who commits to one of these diets, you likely have plans to raise your child on the same diet as they grow up. It may also be important to you that you hire a surrogate who shares your diet preferences. Know this: It is certainly possible to find a vegetarian or vegan surrogate, but it may require extra work and patience on your part.

As “trendy” as they may be, vegetarian and vegan diets are still fairly rare — only 5 percent of Americans are vegetarian, while 3 percent are vegan. For this reason, it will likely take longer to find a surrogate who already has this kind of diet restriction, as the percentage of women who choose to become surrogates is already low among the population.

In terms of finding a vegan or vegetarian surrogate, it’s much more likely for you to be matched with a woman who already practices this diet than for you to matched with someone and then request they change their diet. A diet change such as veganism or vegetarianism is a big commitment; remember that many surrogates have children and spouses who may or may not be able to share those diet restrictions, and it can make her life much harder if she is required to completely change her diet when she is already giving up a great deal to be your gestational carrier.

One of the best ways to find a surrogate who meets your diet preferences will be searching for one on your own. Working with an agency is possible, but it may take longer for your surrogacy specialist to find a surrogate who shares all of your other preferences, too.

For more information on how many vegan or vegetarian gestational carriers work with American Surrogacy, please contact a surrogacy specialist today.

What Diet Rules Can I Make for My Surrogate?

This topic brings up another relevant issue: a surrogate’s overall diet. When you are an intended parent, you don’t have the degree of control over your baby’s development as you would if you were carrying your child yourself. It’s normal to be frustrated and want to make sure your surrogate is having the healthiest pregnancy possible — which is why you may wonder what kind of diet and lifestyle rules you can have your surrogate abide by.

When it comes to diet, there is one important rule that every gestational carrier must follow: Eat a healthy diet that promotes the growth of the child inside of her. This includes getting her daily servings of fruits and vegetables and necessary vitamins and minerals. It also includes her required prenatal medication. All of this is part of her “healthy pregnancy” and will likely be detailed in the contract she signs with her intended parents.

Any additional dietary needs or restrictions will also need to be highlighted in the contract, as well — but the contract shouldn’t be the first time these issues are brought up. While they may seem small, these topics play an important part in the matching process. Your surrogacy specialist will make sure your match conversation with a potential surrogate includes your desires for her diet during pregnancy, which means a surrogate must be on board with these dietary changes before a match is even made. Then, the details will be solidified with your surrogacy contract.

It can be stressful for intended parents to think about their surrogate’s diet and lifestyle. Often, it can be stressful enough that they wish to detail every “can” and “can’t” in a surrogate’s contract. However, remember that the woman who carries your baby is just as dedicated to your child’s health as you are. She likely will already have plans for a healthy diet and lifestyle during her pregnancy, which means you will need to have a certain degree of trust and faith for her decision-making as your surrogate. Micromanaging her life may put you at more ease, but it can also negatively affect your developing relationship.

So, if you have any questions or concerns about your future surrogate’s diet and lifestyle, your first point of contact will always be your surrogacy specialist. They will always be the best person to explain their policy on these details and can help you find the surrogate that is perfect for your family-building journey, whatever your preferences may be.

What to Expect at the First OB Visit in Your Surrogacy

Prior to your surrogate’s first visit with her obstetrician (OB), she and you will have primarily worked with your fertility clinic, which will be very familiar with the surrogacy process. But your surrogate’s OB may have never experienced a surrogate pregnancy before and may not know what to expect. You and your surrogate may not know what to expect, either!

We know how confusing this time can be, which is why we’ve answered some of your biggest questions about prenatal appointments in gestational surrogacy journeys below.

What the Average OB Experience Is Like

The first OB visit generally occurs between 8 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. The surrogacy process won’t affect this first OB visit much, although the doctor may ask a few questions about gamete donors, if applicable.

If you’ve never experienced one before, a prenatal visit can be a little scary. Here’s what happens in the standard first trip to an OB for surrogates, depending on the week of pregnancy and the doctor’s recommendations:

  • The surrogate’s health and vitals will be checked, and she’ll be asked a lot of questions to make sure her first trimester is going well so far.
  • Your surrogate may receive a full physical, so you’ll need to step out and give her some privacy.
  • Your surrogate will have her blood drawn to test for fetal abnormalities.
  • There may also be a urine test, a pap smear, or other tests to check fetal and maternal health.
  • A transvaginal ultrasound may be performed to evaluate early development.
  • You may be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
  • The doctor will review the next steps and schedule the next routine appointment.
  • You and your surrogate will sign a lot of paperwork, usually HIPPA consent forms to release medical information. Most of this paperwork will be completed by your gestational carrier.

The first visit to the OB consists mostly of the doctor asking questions, some of which may be rendered inapplicable as a result of the surrogacy process. This is usually an exciting time for surrogates and intended parents alike, so enjoy the moment together!

How to Prepare for Your Surrogate’s First OB Appointment

These five steps may help you navigate your first visit together at the OB:

Step 1: Jointly Decide How Much You’ll Participate in Your Surrogate’s Pregnancy

You’ve probably already talked about this when you created your surrogacy contract together, but you’ll need to have an honest conversation with your surrogate about how much of your involvement she feels comfortable with during the pregnancy and about how much you’d like to participate, if possible.

Not all intended parents accompany their surrogate to her first OB visit — maybe they’re unable to due to distance, or maybe the surrogate feels more comfortable going to this appointment without them. Regardless, you’ll have the rest of your child’s life to participate in important milestones, so missing the first OB visit certainly isn’t the end of the world.

Step 2: Talk to the OB Before the Visit

This may require leaving multiple messages, talking to several nurses and playing phone tag, but it’s important that everyone involved (especially the doctor who’ll be overseeing the surrogate’s care) knows about your surrogacy partnership, and is aware of everyone that will be attending the appointment. The OB may need to talk to the patient (your surrogate), as well as you, prior to this visit.

If they’re prepared for intended parents and the surrogate, plus her spouse (or whoever might be attending the doctor’s visit), then they’ll be better prepared to do their own job of walking you through what comes next in your surrogate’s pregnancy.

Step 3: Be Prepared for Some Insensitivity

Not everyone at the OB’s office will be aware of your surrogacy partnership. Even those who are aware may slip up and say things that are insensitive. Try to be patient and understand that out of the many pregnancies this office sees daily, surrogate pregnancies are rare.

Remember that you’re in this together with your surrogate. People may congratulate her on “her” baby or ask her unwelcome questions about surrogacy. Remember that both of you will likely be subject to uncomfortable moments, but that you’ll get through those moments together.

Step 4: Remember that Conflicting Feelings Aren’t Unusual for IPs

It’s not uncommon for intended parents to have complicated feelings throughout a surrogate pregnancy, and these feelings may be especially heightened at your first OB visit. You may:

  • Feel jealous that your surrogate is the one experiencing this visit with the doctor.
  • Grieve that you’re unable to carry your baby.
  • Be hurt or feel awkward when office staff ask questions or make assumptions about the baby’s genetic background.
  • Feel frustrated that you’re not in control of the pregnancy and your baby’s health and protection.
  • Be scared that you’ll lose the baby, especially if you have experienced previous pregnancy loss.

These types of emotions are usually coupled with the excitement, joy and nervousness that is typical of parents in an OB’s office. If you need to talk to someone, remember that you can always turn to your American Surrogacy specialist for support.

Step 5: Your Surrogate May Look to You

Surrogates have their own emotional support systems, but they’re doing this to complete your family. They want to make sure that you enjoy this appointment at the OB, too.

This appointment is a good opportunity for you to grow closer together and to remind your surrogate of how much you appreciate her and how much you’re looking forward to meeting your baby. Some ways to affirm your excitement to your surrogate can include:

  • Going out to lunch before or after your appointment together
  • Bringing her a little gift, like a card or a pregnancy pampering kit you put together
  • Giving her a hug
  • Taking a photo together to mark the occasion
  • Showing her something you plan to give to the baby, or telling her about name options
  • Or simply telling her how excited you are and how happy you are to have her in your life.

Seeing that you’re excited is what makes surrogacy worthwhile to surrogates!

Remember that if you have any questions about the medical processes of surrogacy, including the upcoming OB appointments, you can always call American Surrogacy at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

Someone You Know Offered to Be Your Surrogate: How Do You Tell Them ‘No’?

“I’d be honored to carry your baby!” “I’d be your surrogate for free.” “Why would you go to a surrogacy agency when I could just do it for you?”

When someone you know says something like this to you, it comes from a place of love. Becoming a surrogate for someone is one of the most loving things a person can do. But identified surrogacy, — where you partner with someone you know, like a friend or family member — can come with some emotional complications and can sometimes make the process riskier for those involved.

So, how do you convey to this woman that although you’re grateful for her expression of love, you have to decline her generous offer? Here’s how:

Step 1: Thank Her!

She may be a little hurt that you’re declining, but growing your family is a big deal, and you need to do this your way.

Start by thanking her (a lot) and letting her know how much her offer means to you. Understanding where her offer to carry your child comes from can help her to feel more heard. She probably loves you, sees how much you want to have a baby and wants to help.

Your relationship with this woman is unique, so you’ll probably know best how to approach this delicate topic. Just a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Trust your instincts and your knowledge of your relationship.
  • Make sure she knows how you feel about her offering such an incredible gift to you.
  • Let her know how much you love and appreciate her.
  • Maybe offer other ways in which she can help in your journey to grow your family.

Step 2: Explain Why You Need to Decline

She may feel better if she understands the complexity of surrogacy and your reasons for declining her offer. Sometimes over-explaining can feel like a cop-out, so use your best judgment and your instincts of your relationship with this person.

There are a number of reasons why you might be turning down her offer to be your surrogate. Some of the reasons you might have, and feel the need to explain to her, can include:

  • You don’t want to jeopardize your relationship with her. The surrogacy process is an emotional one. Jealousy isn’t uncommon, finances are something that needs to be worked out in detail, things like pregnancy complications or selective termination are difficult topics you’d need to talk about, and more. All of this can put strain on even the strongest relationship.
  • She doesn’t meet the requirements. There are strict health, emotional and legal requirements for prospective surrogates, and not every woman is going to meet them. You may have greater knowledge of these requirements, so you already know she won’t be eligible for surrogacy.
  • She doesn’t have much knowledge of the surrogacy process.Becoming a surrogate, although rewarding, can be demanding, and the women who do so go into the agreement knowing what they’re in for. They’ve carefully researched the process, and they’ve signed on with an agency after being thoroughly screened and proving their commitment. Offering to become a surrogate is a kind thought, but actually committing to do so after seeking out the process is another matter.
  • You don’t want to have your surrogate present in your everyday post-surrogacy life. Feeling constantly indebted to this woman — who is likely a friend, family member or peer — would become too much if you see her on a regular basis after the baby is born. However, when you work with a surrogate that you only see occasionally, you don’t have the same kind of pressure on a relationship.
  • You know you would worry about the baby and pregnancy more often if you saw her more. Sometimes, a little distance is good in a surrogacy relationship. There’s a lot that’s out of your control in surrogacy, and if you see your surrogate regularly, it can be tempting to micromanage her pregnancy or obsess about her health. A surrogate who you see a little less can be equally stressful, but you wouldn’t have the constant visual reminder stirring up anxieties.

Step 3: Avoid Identified Surrogacy, Avoid More Hurt Feelings

If you agree to any identified surrogacy situation, you’ll have a potential for legal, financial and emotional issues. You may damage your relationship with the person who offered to be your surrogate. For these reasons and more, it’s generally recommended to avoid partnering with someone you personally know — unless you and she have discussed the process of surrogacy and your personal expectations for a long time and in detail.

While surrogacy partnerships often lead to close emotional bonds and friendships, in some ways, the process is often a little business-like. You wouldn’t think that a group of people who are excitedly joining together to have a baby would ever want to avoid emotions, but due to the by-the-book nature of surrogacy, sometimes having a surrogacy partner to whom you’re not already close can help those clinical moments feel less awkward. When you enter into a surrogacy journey with a woman you already know, your relationship will change forever — for good or for bad — and there will be no going back to the relationship you had before. Are you and your loved one prepared for that?

Turning down an identified surrogacy offer can be uncomfortable, but hopefully the woman who offered will understand that building a family is a deeply personal path and that you need to do it in your own way.

If you’re ready to match with a surrogate who shares your surrogacy goals and whom you feel a connection with, contact an American Surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

5 Steps to Take When Something Unexpected Happens in Your Surrogacy

In an ideal surrogacy, everything would go according to plan. The surrogacy plan set by intended parents and their gestational carrier would outline everything to expect in the months ahead, and both parties would follow their step-by-step process to successfully bring a new child into the world, with little to no stress for either party.

However, not all surrogacy journeys go this way. In fact, it’s more likely than not that something unexpected will happen during your surrogacy journey. Surrogacy is a process with many moving parts and complex factors, and it’s highly likely that something may not go as planned in the many steps along the way. This is completely normal — but it can be stressful, whether you are an intended parent or gestational carrier.

Remember, your surrogacy specialist at American Surrogacy will be there to guide you through every step of this process. They will be there to answer any questions you have and help alleviate any concerns that come up along the way.

That said, if you find yourself facing an unexpected development in your surrogacy journey, what should you do?

Step 1: Take a deep breath.

When something doesn’t go according to plan in life, it’s normal to be frustrated or even panicked. This is even truer in a surrogacy journey; adding to a family is an incredibly important journey, and feeling like something is going “wrong” is incredibly stressful for both intended parents and gestational carriers.

That’s why the most important thing to do when something doesn’t go according to plan is to first take a deep breath. It’s important to have a clear head when your journey goes off-book; otherwise, you can easily say and do things in the heat of the moment that you will later regret. Before doing anything else, sit down and take a deep breath (as long as there is no immediate medical risk to you or your surrogacy partner).

Step 2: Contact your surrogacy professional.

The first person you should always contact if something unexpected occurs should be your surrogacy professional. Your surrogacy specialist is trained to handle many kinds of difficult situations, and they will be able to guide you step-by-step through this situation that you find yourself in.

Believe us: We are always here for you, no matter what. As your full-service surrogacy agency, American Surrogacy is prepared to help you through every step of your surrogacy journey, even those which pop up unexpectedly. Some situations may require professional intervention, while others may not. Either way, we want to know about everything that happens in your surrogacy journey.

Step 3: Calmly think about your options.

As mentioned above, panicking or stressing about an unexpected development in your surrogacy journey is often counterproductive. When something unexpected occurs, it’s important to calmly think about the paths available to you. Obviously, they will vary based on your situation — but many surrogacy participants automatically jump to the most extreme, worst-case-scenario paths when there are so many gentler ways to address the situation.

This is where our surrogacy specialists can be so helpful. Because they have experience in these situations, they can calmly offer you the paths you may wish to take, as well as the pros and cons of each. Rather than jumping into the first option presented, take the time to evaluate what’s best for your family. For example, if your gestational carrier is having contractions earlier than expected, you may be tempted to book a flight and hop on a plane to her right away. However, she may be simply having Braxton-Hicks pre-contractions, and waiting for more information from a doctor can save you lots of time and money.

Step 4: Keep your surrogacy partner informed.

Just as you will want to inform your surrogacy professional of any unexpected developments along the way, your surrogacy partner should be your second call. Surrogacy is a partnership, and the process only works when both partners trust and respect each other. Keeping each other informed is an important part of maintaining that mutual trust and respect.

Of course, there may be certain unexpected situations that arise because of your relationship with your surrogacy partner, and those situations may be best solved with the mediation of your surrogacy professional. In all other cases, we recommend that you make sure your surrogacy partner is aware of your situation as soon as you can describe it calmly and clearly. They will appreciate being in the know, especially because your surrogacy plan is their surrogacy plan, too. Any changes you have to make will impact their upcoming journey.

Step 5: Remember that unexpected developments are normal.

Finally, it’s important to remember that, should something unplanned happen, it’s completely normal. In most cases, it won’t mean the end for your surrogacy journey. Because surrogacy involves so many complicated steps, it’s completely natural for something to occur in a more complicated way than expected. Instead of panicking, try to see this as a special part of your unique surrogacy journey. You’ll likely find that, once everything is complete and a baby is born, the things that caused you the most anxiety during your surrogacy journey will only be little blips on your radar — or even something that you laugh about later on!

Remember, if you ever have any questions about what is and isn’t normal during your surrogacy journey, don’t hesitate to reach out to American Surrogacy today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

How Strict Are Surrogacy BMI Requirements?

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement of body fat based on your height and weight, taking into account whether the two are proportional. In surrogacy, almost all professionals will require that you fall within a certain BMI range in order to become a surrogate. This may seem like an insensitive requirement, but, like most rules, they’re there for an important reason.

Here’s what you should know about the BMI requirements for surrogates:

Why is a Surrogate’s BMI Important?

There are a number of reasons why a woman’s BMI is important to her eligibility as a surrogate.

  • A higher BMI has been associated with preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, pregnancy hypertension, an increased rate of cesarean section, postpartum hemorrhage and other pregnancy complications.
  • A higher BMI has been linked to complications with the baby after the birth.
  • A too-low BMI has been associated with an increased risk for preterm delivery and small-for-gestational-age (SGA) babies.
  • A too-high or too-low BMI takes longer for you to become pregnant — about twice as long if you have a higher BMI versus a healthy BMI. With surrogacy, time is literally money for the intended parents, because it means more embryo transfers.

These requirements can be frustrating for healthy women who don’t seem themselves as “malnourished” or “obese,” as the BMI index may label them, or who fall outside the required range for surrogates.

However, your BMI when you’re trying to become pregnant can directly affect your health and safety, the baby’s safety and the legal safety of the intended parents you’re hoping to help. By applying to become a surrogate, it can be assumed that you’re an incredibly loving and generous person who wants to help others. If you don’t meet the health requirements, you could put yourself and others at physical, emotional, financial or legal risk. So, to minimize the possibility of these risks as much as they can, surrogacy professionals establish rigorous health requirements for surrogates, like BMI.

What is the Typical BMI Requirement that a Surrogate Must Meet?

These can vary slightly from one surrogacy professional to the next. At American Surrogacy, we work with women who have a BMI of 19 to 32, based on the fertility clinic’s recommendations. This is what health professionals have determined to be a healthy BMI range for adults, so most surrogacy professionals stay within that range fairly closely.

Remember that the BMI requirement is just one of many requirements that prospective surrogates must meet. There are also emotional, legal and other health requirements that you’ll need to complete, which can vary slightly depending on the state you live in and the surrogacy professional you work with.

If you’re not sure if you meet the BMI requirements to become a surrogate, ask your surrogacy professional.

What Happens if a Surrogate Doesn’t Quite Meet the BMI Requirement?

While most of the health requirements are pretty strict for a very good reason, the BMI requirements may be a little more flexible, depending on the clinic you’re working with and your individual situation.

Many surrogacy agencies are adamant about their BMI requirements, but if you’re close to the target range, we tend to evaluate things on a case-by-case basis and will simply prioritize overall health.

American Surrogacy may work with women who have a BMI as high as 35, as long as the surrogate is in good health, meets the other requirements and her fertility clinic approves her. If her BMI is high, we usually ask that the surrogate start working to safely bring down her weight before she becomes pregnant, so that we can minimize health risks wherever possible.

So, if you’re close to the required BMI range for surrogacy but aren’t quite in the target range, don’t panic. Talk to an American Surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-2229 to see if you’d still qualify to become a surrogate, and talk to your doctor about creating a health plan to help get you closer to the ideal BMI range.

What You Need to Know Endometriosis Awareness Month

Throughout the month of March, a spotlight is placed on the biggest cause of infertility in women: endometriosis. Not only does endometriosis affect a woman’s ability to carry a child, it’s an extremely painful disease that can be debilitating in many ways. Endometriosis, however, is still widely misunderstood and dismissed by many.

Join American Surrogacy in taking part in Endometriosis Awareness Month!

What You Need to Know About Endometriosis

If you know someone who deals with this condition, or if you think you may have endometriosis, here’s what you should know:

  • Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory condition that can affect the uterus, pelvic peritoneum, ovaries, recto-vaginal septum, bladder and bowel.
  • Symptoms are usually very painful, and can include pain during periods, ovulation, during or after sex; persistent pelvic pain; chronic fatigue; heavy bleeding; and infertility.
  • This condition affects about 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years (approximately 176 million worldwide).
  • Endometriosis symptoms can occur as early as a first period, but menopause may not end the symptoms, especially if scar tissue or adhesions have accumulated as a result of the disease.
  • Surgery is the only option for removing endometriosis lesions and scar tissue, although success rates can vary.
  • There are treatments to help with endometriosis, but there is no known cure.
  • There is no known cause for endometriosis, although genetic predisposition currently seems to be the most consistent factor.

Who Endometriosis Affects and How it Affects Them

Because this is an unfortunately common condition, you or someone you love is likely directly affected. Here’s how lives are changed by endometriosis:

  • Intimate relationships can be a source of physical pain for women who suffer from endometriosis, which can be frustrating and emotionally alienating for both partners.
  • Some women who suffer from endometriosis may grieve aspects of their femininity, as a woman’s menstrual cycle, sexual health and ability to carry children is often part of her self-formed identity.
  • Sufferers often have to spend a lot of time at home, missing work, school or important events due to painful symptoms.
  • In some cases, endometriosis can cause infertility, which primarily affects the woman with the condition but can also affect her spouse or partner and her family.
  • Many people don’t understand the condition, believing endometriosis to be merely “a difficult period,” and women who suffer from the disease are left feeling belittled and having their symptoms dismissed by friends, family, doctors or employers.

How You Can Help Raise Awareness This March (and All Year Long)

Whether you suffer from endometriosis yourself or you want to help raise awareness on behalf of someone you love, Endometriosis Awareness Month is a great time to start. Here’s what you can do this March to spread the word:

Even just sharing facts about endometriosis with others throughout the month of March on social media can reach a surprising number of people. Here are the social media accounts of a few good resources to use (be sure to check out their full websites, too):

What Surrogacy Has to Do With Endometriosis

So, what does American Surrogacy have to do with endometriosis? A number of intended parents choose surrogacy as their way to have a family following a struggle with endometriosis and/or infertility as a result of the disease. For those who are ready to pursue different family-building methods after receiving a diagnosis of infertility, surrogacy can be an amazing way to have the family that they’d always dreamed of. Other families choose to pursue adoption through our sister agency, American Adoptions.

However you decide to have a family, American Surrogacy and American Adoptions supports those who are affected by this condition and joins you in your mission to improve public knowledge throughout Endometriosis Awareness Month and beyond.

Being a Surrogate While Your Spouse is Away

As long as you meet the requirements, you can choose to be a surrogate regardless of your marital status. You can also be a surrogate while your spouse or partner is away for deployment, work, school or for any other reason.

There are a lot of reasons why you might be considering becoming a surrogate and why becoming a surrogate now feels right for you and your family. But, you probably also have quite a few questions and some uncertainties. We can always help you there.

Here are some of the most common questions that women who are considering becoming surrogates while their spouses or partners are away have asked:

Who Might Be a Surrogate With an Absent Spouse?

Women who aren’t married can certainly become surrogates as long as they meet the necessary requirements, but there are also many married women who choose to become surrogates while their spouse or partner is away for an extended period of time. These prospective surrogates have included women whose spouses or partners:

  • are in the military and are away for deployment or basic training
  • travel often as part of their job
  • are incarcerated
  • are away for school or studying abroad
  • or are otherwise gone for part of, or the duration of, the surrogate pregnancy.

As long as you meet the requirements to become a surrogate established by your state and American Surrogacy, becoming a surrogate may be an option for you.

Why is This a Common Trend for Surrogates?

Becoming a surrogate when your spouse is away for deployment is a fairly common occurrence. Why?

A woman’s reasons for becoming a surrogate are unique and vary from one person to the next. Similarly, every couple’s situation is different when one of them is away. But, there may be a few reasons why this is such a popular option for committed couples:

  • If you and your spouse move around a lot, it can be hard to put down roots in the community, but surrogacy gives you an opportunity to feel like you’re giving back regardless of where you live.
  • Compensation for surrogacy is legal in most states, so for many women and their families, it can be a nice financial boost while one provider is away.
  • If you and your spouse travel but you don’t have a career outside the home, surrogacy gives you a fulfilling way to spend your time doing something that’s your own, in addition to being meaningful to you and someone else.
  • The surrogacy process for most surrogates takes roughly a year, which is a short enough commitment that you wouldn’t be locked into something that you couldn’t move away from but is long enough to keep your mind occupied if you worry about your spouse while they’re away, such as if they’re deployed.

There are plenty of reasons why you might be inspired to be a surrogate for someone and plenty of reasons why you might decide to begin this process while your spouse is away. American Surrogacy will support you through that process.

What’s Different About the Surrogacy Process without the Surrogate’s Spouse/Partner?

Very little is different. There are really only three differences of note that may affect you.

Legally, a surrogate’s spouse or partner must sign their consent to her surrogacy decision in some states. Not because you need your spouse’s permission, but because they would need to acknowledge that they have no legal parental rights to the intended parents’ baby; in some states the surrogate and her husband would be legally presumed to be the parents even if they’re not biologically related to the baby. Your surrogacy attorney would be able to tell you whether or not this step would be applicable in your situation, as every legal case is different.

Emotionally, becoming a surrogate without your spouse or partner can be difficult. As you know, pregnancy can be mentally and emotionally exhausting in addition to the physical strain. Not having your primary source of emotional support there with you during a pregnancy, even though it’s not your own baby, can be tough. However, you won’t be alone. In addition to the support system that you have with family and friends, you’ll also have the intended parents and your American Surrogacy specialist to lean on.

Financially, health care coverage is a concern for some women whose spouses are away, particular for women who are part of a military family. This is because some military insurance providers won’t cover the medical costs of a surrogate pregnancy if they find out that you’re pregnant for someone else rather than for yourself. This is something that you’d need to consult with an American Surrogacy specialist about. While our specialists make sure surrogates are never left with any medical costs, insurance policies can complicate matters, and it’s important to be aware of them as early as possible.

Would I Be a Good Surrogate?

Ultimately, that’s up to you. If you meet the requirements of your state as well as your surrogacy professional, then you’re certainly eligible. Of course, that’s not the only consideration you’re probably taking into account.

Ask yourself a few more questions that might be specific to your situation, like:

  • Am I ready for a surrogate pregnancy without my spouse/partner present?
  • Do I have some friends or family who can help me out as my surrogate pregnancy progresses if I need them (emotionally or for practical everyday things)?
  • Can I handle raising kids alone, as well as the commitment of being a surrogate?

It’s not only possible for a woman to become a surrogate while her spouse or partner is away, it’s actually quite common. If you think you might be interested in being a surrogate, you may find talking to other women who have been surrogates while their spouses were gone a helpful resource. You can also talk to a specialist at American Surrogacy for free if you have any questions or if you’d like to begin the process. Call 1-800-875-BABY(2229) today to get started.

How to Get Excited About a Surrogate Pregnancy

When you’re an intended parent, the confirmation that your surrogate is pregnant should be exciting news. This is, after all, your baby — the ultimate goal of the whole process. You may, however, find it difficult to fully take joy in the pregnancy. Sometimes it can be difficult to identify why you’re having a hard time getting excited about such an exciting thing.

Here are four steps to getting you on the path to greater emotional investment in your surrogate pregnancy and to being able to enjoy the experience:

Step 1: Address Infertility-Related Grief

If you’ve experienced infertility, miscarriage, or pregnancy loss, you’ll need to fully grieve those losses before starting your family-building process. Even then, those old emotions can pop back up throughout your surrogate pregnancy, making it hard for you to get excited. Some of the common grief-related experiences that you may have include:

  • Wanting to emotionally distance yourself from your surrogate or the pregnancy for fear of the pain of another pregnancy loss
  • Constantly worrying about what your surrogate is doing that could trigger a miscarriage or other harmful development
  • Re-experiencing grief that you were physically unable to conceive or carry your baby as you watch your surrogate’s pregnancy progress
  • Fearing that you won’t love a surrogacy-born baby as much as a baby you carried yourself

Grief is never easy to shake, and we tend to re-experience it when we least want to. If your emotions about infertility or pregnancy loss are standing in the way of you enjoying your surrogate pregnancy, you owe it to yourself and your surrogate to try to address those emotions so you can experience the excitement you deserve. Talking to a counselor or therapist, your spouse, religious advisor and/or surrogacy professional may help.

Step 2: Let Go of the Need to Control

When so much is out of your hands, feeling in control of even small things can bring a sense of comfort. The feeling of a lack of control can make it hard for you to get excited about a surrogate pregnancy. Some common experiences that waiting parents have are:

  • Worrying about what their surrogate is eating, what medications she’s taking or other factors beyond their control instead of enjoying their surrogate’s pregnancy
  • Trying to micromanage their surrogacy professionals rather than connecting with their surrogate and getting excited about their baby
  • Overburdening themselves with planning baby showers, designing the nursery, or throwing themselves into work instead of acknowledging the emotional realities of the pregnancy

Sometimes it can be helpful to control whatever small things we can, especially when major things are not under our control. In other situations, trying to control details can be harmful. For example, micromanaging your surrogate or your surrogacy professional won’t help anyone, and it’ll only emotionally distance yourself from truly enjoying the experience of a surrogate pregnancy.

Do your best to relax and to embrace the unknown as much as you can. Talking to former intended parents may help soothe some of your anxieties about this.

Step 3: Connect with Your Surrogate

There are a lot of emotions at play that can leave you feeling a little reluctant or nervous to talk to your surrogate about her pregnancy. Some common irritations that intended parents have that may hinder excitement about the pregnancy include:

  • Jealousy toward the surrogate for being able to carry their baby
  • Not being able to experience her physical sensations of pregnancy and feeling a sense of disconnect
  • Physical distance in a long-distance surrogacy match that makes it hard for them to feel emotionally connected to their surrogate and their baby
  • Fearing that they’re bothering their surrogate

It’s important to prioritize your relationship with your surrogate. Not every surrogate and her intended parents are going to be best friends, and that’s perfectly fine. But getting to know your surrogate as a person and not just as “your surrogate” will help you feel more invested if you’re feeling a little disconnected right now.

Try to spend some time together, when she’s available. Even if you have a long-distance surrogacy match, try to talk on the phone or video chat. Talking to her about her pregnancy is a great way to build your own excitement about her experiences, but talking to her about her family, her interests and more will help you to build an overall stronger connection.

Step 4: Spend Time with Your Loved Ones

The surrogacy process is time-consuming and can be emotionally exhausting. Sometimes relationships can feel the strain of this. But the people you’re closest to aren’t just your best source of emotional support — they’ll also help you to get excited about your surrogate pregnancy.

Some of these common feelings that waiting parents experience might make it hard for you to get excited about the pregnancy:

  • Feeling out-of-sync with your spouse or partner, who may be more (or less) excited than you are about the pregnancy
  • Frustrations with friends or family who have very different emotional responses to the pregnancy than your own current feelings
  • Emotional exhaustion from talking about the pregnancy and surrogacy process so often with well-meaning friends, family or coworkers

This can be a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your spouse or partner, as well as your older kids, if you have children. After all, these are the last few months you’ll have together before the welcome chaos of a new family member. Take some time to go on a small weekend trip together, go to the movies, or even just spend time doing the normal, non-surrogacy-related things you love doing.

The surrogacy experience can be an emotional time, and spouses can process their feelings in different ways. Spending time together to talk, reconnect and focus on your relationship will benefit everyone, and you can get one another more excited about your baby’s upcoming arrival in the process.

If you’re having a hard time getting excited about your surrogate pregnancy, try not to feel frustrated. Instead, try to identify why you might be struggling to enjoy the pregnancy and work to build an emotional connection to the experience. Pregnancy is an exciting time, and surrogacy is uniquely wonderful. You deserve to enjoy all the emotions that come with it.