Managing the Grief of Infertility: Tips for Intended Parents

An estimated 1 in 8 couples will be diagnosed with infertility. So, if you’re grieving after your diagnosis, you’re not alone.

Grief is the most common reaction to infertility. Some people grieve their original dream of having biological children, or they grieve their body’s inability to become pregnant or carry a child. Others may also be grieving pregnancy loss. There is often the feeling of loss of control and identity when a person is diagnosed with infertility, and the grieving process is an essential part of rediscovering yourself after infertility.

Wherever you are in your current family-building journey, here a few things to keep in mind and to help you through the infertility grieving process:

Everyone Grieves Differently

If you’re dealing with infertility alongside a partner, it can be difficult if they grieve differently than you do, or if they process their feelings at a different pace. Your friends and family may also grieve for you in their own way.

Be patient with them and with yourself.

It can be frustrating or lonely when everyone is hurting, but try to stay compassionate with one another. Continue to communicate how you’re feeling and what you need from others.

Responses to infertility can manifest in different ways for different people, including:

  • Anger or blame
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Sadness or depression
  • Numbness or emotional detachment
  • Disbelief or denial through seeking help from many different health professionals
  • Hyper-focusing on your infertility and having an inability to concentrate on anything else
  • Trying to ignore your infertility by focusing on everything else

After learning of their infertility, one partner may tend to bury themselves in their infertility diagnosis, while the other may avoid it as much as possible. Grieving differently can make a painful time even harder, but try to continue to support one another as you deal with your emotions on your own terms.

Ways to Help Heal from Infertility Grief

Not sure how to start making peace with what you’re feeling? Here are a few methods that can help you begin processing your infertility grief:

  • Create a representative space to honor lost pregnancies or lost dreams of having a child in the way you’d initially hoped for. This could be a space on a shelf where you put items you purchased for a child, or a garden that you plant and care for.
  • Write about your thoughts and feelings. Putting pen to paper through journaling or through letters to a lost child or a future baby can help you look at your emotional progress and see hope for a different path to parenthood someday.
  • Use creative outlets or hobbies to keep from falling into depression or hyper-focusing on your diagnosis. Keep hiking, running, making jewelry or whatever you like to do to help get back to feeling like yourself.
  • Talk to others. Join a local infertility support group, talk to your partner, friends or family members that you feel will listen the best. Consider talking to an infertility counselor.
  • Plan for things you can look forward to, such as concerts, taking a trip, visiting friends, or taking classes of something you’ve always been interested in, whether that’s cooking or boxing. This can help if you’ve felt like you’re not in control lately, and it also gives you a few fun things in the future to look forward to.

There’s no right or wrong way to tackle your infertility grief. As long as you’re acknowledging that grief and giving yourself the time you need to begin feeling at peace, then you’re doing great.

Move Forward When You’re Ready

Moving forward means that you may need to let go of painful things that can hold you back from living a full and happy life. That may be letting go of your dreams of having a child who is biologically related to you or carrying a pregnancy yourself, or letting go of miscarriages or children you’ve lost. This doesn’t mean that you’ll forget what you’ve experienced, but it does mean that you’re ready to take the next step in your life. Moving forward is a necessary step after the grieving process, and it looks different for everyone.

When you feel like you’re ready to move forward after experiencing infertility grief, there are different paths your life can take:

There is no right or wrong way to move on from infertility. There’s also no timeline for reaching the point where you feel ready to move forward. People reach that point at their own pace, so be patient with yourself and with loved ones. This is a process that’s personal and unique to everyone.

Some important things to remember:

  • You’re not alone — many people come to terms with infertility and understand what it’s like to grieve.
  • You’ll be happy again, and you’ll find a new path for your life and you can be a parent if you want to, even if it’s not in the way you’d originally planned.
  • Be kind with yourself and others, and don’t be afraid to seek infertility grief counseling if you need to.

Infertility grief is difficult but it is manageable with some work, and you will heal. Until then, take care of yourself. When you are ready to start discussing your family-building options, know that American Surrogacy is here to help.

IVF Refunds and Packages: How Does It Apply to Surrogacy?

If you’ve considered working with an IVF clinic to use in vitro fertilization (IVF) to become a parent — whether by carrying a child yourself or by using a gestational surrogate — you may have heard about IVF refund programs and IVF packages. IVF can be expensive; there’s no doubt about that. But can these programs really help you save money?

It’s always a good idea to speak at length with your fertility clinic and your surrogacy professional before deciding whether or not to utilize these programs in your surrogacy journey. Medical circumstances vary significantly in each person’s case, and what is right for one may not be right for another. Only your personal professionals can help you decide what is best for your family.

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about IVF clinic refund and package programs, and whether or not they can help you become a parent without spending more money than you should:

What is an IVF Refund Program?

With an IVF refund program or shared-risk program, you would pay an additional (usually flat-rate) fee that pledges to return some of your costs if you (or your gestational surrogate) are unable to get pregnant in a set number of IVF rounds. These are often paired with IVF packages.

Not everyone may qualify for IVF refund programs. If you have factors that may increase your likelihood of failing to get pregnant, many IVF clinics don’t want to take on that financial risk. Qualifying clients usually have to be under a certain age, have little to no previously failed IVF cycles and a low BMI. These qualifications will vary from one IVF clinic to another.

What is an IVF Package?

IVF clinics often offer deals on purchasing packages or bundles of IVF rounds. You would purchase a certain number of IVF rounds, and the cost of each of those rounds would be lower than if you were to buy them individually rather than in a package deal.

You might need all of those rounds of IVF to achieve a successful pregnancy. You might need more than the rounds you buy in that package. Or you (or your surrogate) might only need one round to get pregnant. However, you would not be refunded for any unused rounds of IVF purchased in a package deal.

What are the Benefits of IVF Refund and Package Programs?

If you or your surrogate fail to get pregnant in that set number of IVF rounds, an IVF refund package could return some (but not all) of those costs to you so that you could pursue other family-building options with that money, such as adoption.

The benefit of purchasing IVF packages is that each round of IVF in the package is at a lower rate than if you were to buy each round individually without the package deal.

So, you would be spending more money up front — but there’s a chance that you’d save money if you have a hard time conceiving through IVF and need a lot of rounds, or if you are unable to conceive through IVF at all.

What’s the Potential Catch?

IVF clinics may weigh the probabilities of you or your surrogate getting pregnant before beginning your medical treatment. If they think you’re more likely to get pregnant quickly through IVF, they’ll offer you packages and refund programs. This way, if they’re right and you do become pregnant relatively quickly, they’ll be able to keep any extra money you spent on unused rounds of IVF. If they think you’re less likely to get pregnant, you won’t qualify for those programs, because they don’t want to risk the chance of having to refund your money.

Some people wind up spending thousands more to get pregnant through IVF than if they had purchased individual rounds of IVF, even if the individual rounds were higher cost per round.

This often means that those people aren’t left with enough in their budget for surrogacy or adoption, and IVF is no longer an option for them, either.

Is It Still Worth It?

There is a chance that you’ll come out of purchasing an IVF refund or package program having saved some money. That depends on whether or not you needed the additional rounds of IVF to successfully have a baby.

If you or your surrogate ends up getting pregnant surprisingly quickly, you might have spent a lot more money than you needed to, even if you were spending more money on individual rounds of IVF. The clinic will keep any additional money you spent on the unused rounds of IVF in the IVF package you purchased. There’s no real way to tell how fast you might get pregnant when you start IVF, if at all.

So, if you do fail to get pregnant through IVF, paying that extra money for the refund program could be beneficial, as you could use that money towards adoption or surrogacy fees. Then again, if you paid more for a refund program and you wind up getting pregnant, you will have lost that money.

Essentially, it depends on you how want to gamble on potential success or failure of IVF. With IVF, there is simply the possibility of not getting pregnant.

Infertility is unfair and frustrating, to say the very least. But remember — you are not alone and even if it doesn’t seem like it now, there are always paths to parenthood. To learn more about the surrogacy options available to you (including using a gestational surrogate to ensure the best chances of IVF success), you can always contact American Surrogacy at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

Understanding Surrogacy Controversy: What’s the Big Deal?

Type the words “surrogacy controversy” into your web browser, and you’ll be inundated with sensationalized headlines about surrogacy scandals, scholarly articles detailing the social ramifications of this family-building process, and fierce arguments for and against surrogacy.

If you are considering surrogacy yourself, either as a hopeful parent or a prospective surrogate, this surrogacy debate can be alarming. You might be wondering, “Is surrogacy morally or socially wrong? What are the issues with surrogacy that I need to be aware of? Is it even possible to practice surrogacy ethically?”

At American Surrogacy, we are committed to completing every surrogacy to the highest ethical standards. When completed correctly, we believe that surrogacy can be an overwhelmingly positive experience that benefits everyone involved — the surrogate, intended parents and, most importantly, the child.

However, we also recognize that nothing is perfect, and there are some surrogacy issues worth considering. Here, we’re examining some of the common arguments for and against surrogacy so you can better understand this hotly debated topic.

Why is Surrogacy Controversial?

To understand the potential benefits and issues of surrogacy, it’s first important to have a basic understanding of the different types of surrogacy and the way this process actually works today.

There are two basic types of surrogacy:

  • Gestational surrogacy: The most common type of surrogacy today, in which the surrogate has no genetic relationship to the baby she carries.
  • Traditional surrogacy: A very rare form of surrogacy today, in which the surrogate’s own egg is fertilized using sperm from an intended father or donor via IVF or intrauterine insemination in the lab.

Surrogacy can also be categorized by the financial arrangements made between the intended parents and surrogate:

  • Compensated surrogacy: Surrogacy in which the surrogate is compensated for her time, energy, sacrifice and participation in the surrogacy process.
  • Altruistic surrogacy: Surrogacy in which the surrogate is not paid a base compensation beyond reimbursement of her medical and legal expenses.

Finally, surrogacy can further be categorized by where it takes place:

  • Domestic surrogacy: Surrogacy in which the intended parents work with a surrogate living within their own country. Because American Surrogacy is a U.S. surrogacy program, we define domestic surrogacy as a surrogacy completed within the United States.
  • International surrogacy: Surrogacy in which intended parents work with a surrogate living in a different country. Because the U.S. surrogacy process is well-regulated, foreign intended parents can complete an international surrogacy in the United States safely, ethically and legally. However, there are many ethical issues with surrogacy in some other parts of the world, especially in developing countries — and this is where much of the surrogacy controversy stems from.

So, why is there so much controversy surrounding surrogacy? Often, it’s because of misinformation. In fact, many anti-surrogacy arguments revolve around misconceptions about the modern-day gestational surrogacy process. Many people don’t know that today, the vast majority of surrogacies are gestational, not traditional. They may not understand why surrogates receive compensation or how that compensation is regulated. And they may assume that because of certain ethical dilemmas in international surrogacy, the same applies to surrogacy completed in the United States.

What are the Arguments Against Surrogacy?

There is no shortage of people ready to point out reasons why surrogacy is “bad” or “wrong.” However, when examining the arguments against surrogacy, it’s important to keep in mind the various types of surrogacy; not all of these arguments will apply to every type of surrogacy completed today.

  • Surrogacy commodifies the human body. A common anti-surrogacy argument is that the practice (particularly of commercial surrogacy and particularly in developing countries) commodifies babies and women’s bodies. Some have even gone so far as comparing surrogacy to prostitution, arguing that in both cases, women “sell” intimate, physical services.

  • Surrogacy exploits women. Critics of surrogacy argue that intended parents who “use” surrogates are interested only in their reproductive ability; they see this practice as “womb-renting,” especially when the woman carrying the pregnancy is in a financially disadvantageous position to the intended parents. This is especially true in international surrogacy, where women may be particularly vulnerable and surrogate compensation can be especially life-altering.
  • Surrogacy is risky. There are, of course, inherent risks involved in any pregnancy, and surrogacy critics sometimes point to these medical risks as a reason to be against surrogacy. They also argue that children born through assisted reproduction may be at greater risk for certain health conditions (though there is no evidence that this is true). Additionally, those against surrogacy may argue that the process is legally, emotionally and financially risky, citing highly publicized and sensationalized cases (like the “Baby M” case or the “Baby Gammy” case) as evidence — even though these cases are not at all representative of most surrogacies completed today.

  • Surrogacy goes against religion. Finally, some object to surrogacy on religious grounds. Many religions emphasize the importance of a husband and wife conceiving naturally on their own, and assisted reproduction is sometimes viewed as going against these religious beliefs.

What are Some Arguments for Surrogacy?

At the same time, just as many people will argue for reasons why surrogacy is good — not just for hopeful parents who desperately want to have a baby but also for the generous surrogates who help them to reach this goal. Advocates for surrogacy will tell you:

  • Surrogacy is mutually beneficial for the parties involved. For intended parents, surrogacy offers the chance to finally have the child they’ve always dreamed of. Surrogacy gives LGBT parents and couples struggling with infertility an opportunity for parenthood they may not have otherwise. Surrogacy also offers many benefits for surrogates, financially and emotionally.

  • Surrogates are compensated fairly for their services. Some argue that surrogate compensation commodifies human life, but it’s important to understand the reality of a surrogate’s commitment and the importance of paying her in exchange for these services and sacrifices. It’s also worth noting that there are protections in place to ensure vulnerable women are not forced into surrogacy in the United States; surrogacy professionals require women to be able to support themselves and their family without state assistance in order to be a surrogate.
  • Surrogacy professionals minimize risks. Through a careful screening and selection process, surrogacy professionals ensure all prospective surrogates and intended parents are truly prepared for the process ahead of them. This is done to minimize risks to everyone involved, especially the surrogate. Surrogacy attorneys also work closely with intended parents and surrogates to ensure their rights and interests are protected, eliminating legal risks, as well. And, contrary to popular belief, the emotional risks to surrogates are minimal; because most surrogates are not related to the children they carry, the vast majority report no emotional complications with the process.
  • Everyone has a voice in the surrogacy process. In domestic surrogacy, intended parents and surrogates enter into the process knowingly and willingly. Screening and counseling services are offered to ensure every prospective surrogate and intended parent is motivated to do surrogacy for the right reasons, and every party plays an active role in the process.

Should Surrogate Motherhood be Allowed?

So, after reviewing both sides of the argument, should surrogacy be allowed? We tend to think so. Should society regulate the practice of surrogacy? Absolutely.

At American Surrogacy, we are able to say with confidence that the surrogates, intended parents and children involved in our program all benefit from the process — and that’s largely because surrogacy issues in the United States are minimized by the well-defined laws and processes that are in place here.

By working with a trusted U.S. surrogacy professional like American Surrogacy, you can ensure that every step of your surrogacy process is legal, ethical and well-regulated, and that everyone involved in your journey is protected from start to finish.

To learn more about surrogacy, or to start your journey now, please contact our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-22299(BABY).

How to Explain Your Surrogacy Decision To Your Family

After months or even years of trying to grow your family and examining your options, you’ve finally decided to pursue surrogacy. At this point, you are probably ready to shout your news from the rooftops — but explaining your surrogacy decision to friends and relatives isn’t always that simple.

In fact, because surrogacy is still a commonly misunderstood practice, your exciting news may be met with blank stares, confusion, or even ignorant questions or comments. How do you explain your surrogacy decision to your family, especially if they’re not very familiar with the realities of this process?

Remember that your surrogacy specialist is always here to help you prepare for and navigate these conversations. In the meantime, the guidelines below can help you get started:

Introduce the concept.

Before you start sending out pregnancy announcements, you may want to go back to the basics. Start slow with an introduction of the surrogacy process; try mentioning the concept casually in conversation and see where it leads. The more you talk about surrogacy in a theoretical way, the less shocking your news will be when you do announce your plans.

Know your reasons.

Likely, your closest friends and family members already know about your desire to grow your family. They may have watched you struggle for a long time to become parents, and chances are, they will immediately understand your surrogacy decision and be thrilled for you.

But, because there are still so many misconceptions about surrogacy today, it never hurts to have your list of reasons prepared before you have this conversation. Explain that you’ve explored all of your family-building options and that you know surrogacy is the next step for you.

Correct any misinformation.

Often, any objections to surrogacy raised by family and friends come from a well-intentioned place. Your loved ones may not understand how the IVF and embryo transfer processes work, or they may worry that the surrogate will be pregnant with her own baby and try to take custody after the birth. Often, friends and family members have heard sensationalized stories in the media of surrogacy gone wrong, and they’re simply trying to save you from the same fate.

Take this as an opportunity to educate loved ones about how the surrogacy process really works. Explain that surrogates are thoroughly vetted, you’ll be present for the embryo transfer process at the lab, and the surrogate will have no genetic relationship or legal claim to your baby.

Ask for support.

Once your friends and family members are aware of your surrogacy decision, they’ll likely want to support you in any way they can — but they may not always know how to do that. When you’re not the one carrying the pregnancy, loved ones might not always think to ask how the process is going, and they might not realize that this journey comes with its own practical challenges and stressors.

It’s important to have a support system to lean on during the challenges of surrogacy — and with whom to celebrate the triumphs. Let your friends and family members know how much their support throughout this process will mean to you, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

If you’re struggling to talk with friends and family members about your surrogacy plans, you can always contact American Surrogacy at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) for additional support and advice.

4 Facts to Know for Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month

For many intended parents, the path to surrogacy is paved with grief, loss and seemingly insurmountable hurdles. For some, one of those hurdles is gynecologic cancer.

A cancer diagnosis can be devastating, and when a hopeful parent learns that their cancer or treatment could impact their ability to have children naturally, they must deal with the added emotional challenges of overcoming infertility. And, because infertility is sometimes still considered a taboo subject, many patients don’t get the support or understanding they need as they grieve this loss.

September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month and, at American Surrogacy, we want to take the time to acknowledge the struggles that many women experience when faced with this illness — especially when they’re trying to have children.

If you are considering surrogacy as a result of infertility due to cancer, know that our specialists are always here to support you and answer any questions you may have. Surrogacy is not right for everyone, but it has offered hope to many women like you.

In honor of Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, here are five things everyone should know about cancer, infertility and their family-building options.

1. There are many types of gynecologic cancer.

“Gynecologic cancer” is a broad term that refers to cancer of the reproductive organs in women. There are many types of gynecologic cancer, including cancer of the cervix, ovaries, uterus, vagina and vulva.

2. All women are at risk.

Cancer does not discriminate. While a woman’s risk may increase with age, genetics and certain lifestyle factors, any woman can develop gynecological cancer. More than 90,000 women are diagnosed each year — in America, that’s one woman diagnosed every six minutes.

3. Women are often unaware of the signs and symptoms.

The symptoms of gynecologic cancer vary based on the type and stage of cancer. Early detection is key to treatment, so it is important to be proactive about your health. Learn the signs and symptoms of different types of gynecologic cancers, and be sure to attend routine screening appointments to catch any problems early on.

4. Gynecologic cancer doesn’t mean you can’t have children.

Not all gynecologic cancer will result in the loss of fertility. Depending on the specific type of cancer and the stage at which it is diagnosed, fertility preservation is sometimes possible.

However, even when treatment will impact a woman’s fertility, it doesn’t necessarily mean she cannot add a child to her family. She may have the option to preserve her eggs for later use in gestational surrogacy, or she may choose to use donated eggs to complete the surrogacy process. Other times, survivors pursue adoption or other another family-building option.

Of course, in these scenarios, it’s always important for women to grieve the loss of having a biological child or carrying a pregnancy themselves — but once you do work through these struggles, know that motherhood can still be an option for you.

If you are ready to begin your family-building process today, or if you would like to know more about using surrogacy to have a child after gynecologic cancer, call a surrogacy specialist today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

7 Fun Bonding Activities for Surrogates and Intended Parents

In most surrogacies, intended parents and prospective surrogates are lucky enough to meet each other before the baby is born. Intended parents may travel to a surrogate’s state to get to know her before a match is solidified, before the embryo transfer takes place or to be present at one of her prenatal appointments. A surrogate, on the other hand, will travel to the intended parents’ clinic as the same time they do and likely spend a few days in the area.

All of these opportunities offer great chances for intended parents and surrogates to get to know each other better and create a solid relationship and partnership through their upcoming journey. But, what exactly should surrogates and intended parents do when they meet face-to-face? How do you approach building a relationship with someone who will be so important to you for the next year or more?

The answer is always whatever both parties are most comfortable with. Some surrogates and intended parents will jump into a friendship more easily than others, and that’s okay. It’s about doing what is right for your and your partner’s preferences to be as successful as possible while moving forward.

If your surrogacy partner is scheduled to be in your city soon, here are a few great bonding activities to consider:

1. A Family-Friendly Activity

Women who become surrogates with our agency are required to be raising at least one child in their own home — which means intended parents who are visiting should consider including their surrogate’s family in their bonding activities. After all, a surrogate’s family is just as impacted by her surrogacy decision as she is, and it will mean a great deal to her if all of her immediate family is able to get to know and build a relationship with the people she is carrying a baby for. It may even help her children understand the process ahead.

If a surrogate’s (or intended parent’s) family is able to participate in a bonding activity, consider a fun activity like going to the zoo, the museum or the park. Finding an activity where children can be occupied allows their parents to focus more on bonding with their surrogacy partner while also including the child in the process.

2. A Local Attraction

On the same train of thought, if you are looking for a unique activity to do while spending time with your surrogacy partner, think about the local attractions in your area. Whether it’s a museum, a park, or another kind of local feature, taking your surrogacy partner there allows you to “do something” while bonding and will give your partner a taste of the area that you live in.

3. A Spa Day

Spa days aren’t just for ladies; men can enjoy the benefits, too! Both intended parents and surrogates will likely go through their own set of stressors during surrogacy, and a spa day can help them relieve those feelings. Take time to get some massages, pedicures or whatever else floats your boat; your body, mind and relationship will thank you for it.

4. A Nice Dinner or Lunch

If you’re not comfortable enough to commit a full day to bonding quite yet, having lunch or dinner with your surrogacy partner can be a great way to start getting to know each other. It provides a great opportunity for conversation, and you get a meal out of it, to boot.

If you decide to take this route, think of a few conversation topics ahead of time. Odds are you have already talked about the logistics of the surrogacy journey before this point, so use this meal as a way to learn more about your surrogacy partner’s personal life and family.

5. A Concert or Other Live Show

If you and your surrogacy partner have similar interests, you might choose to add something fun like a concert to their visit. While you may not be able to talk to each other as much as you would with another activity, it can be a great bonding experience and help kick-start your relationship. It will also be a memory that you’ll be able to look back on for years to come.

6. An Outdoor Excursion

If you are both outdoorsy people, a hike, bike ride or similar outdoor activity can be a great way to get your blood pumping! Surrogates may not be able to continue their exercise regimen once they are far along in their pregnancy, so take advantage of the opportunities to explore the great outdoors — talking and encouraging each other every step of the way.

Always make sure that a surrogate is cleared for appropriate physical exercise before making plans for this activity.

7. A Tour of the Hometown

Finally, if your surrogacy partner is coming to you, offer to give him or her a tour of the town where you live. This gives intended parents an idea of what a surrogate’s community will be like during her pregnancy, and it gives surrogates an idea of what the parents’ child will be like as he or she grows up. It can be as detailed as you want; whatever you choose to share with your surrogacy partner will help them get to know you in a completely different way.

For more suggestions on how to build a strong relationship with your surrogacy partner, you can always talk to your surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-BABY (2229). She can discuss with you in more detail what she thinks is appropriate for your personal relationship.

Whatever you choose to do, remember this: The relationship that you have with your surrogacy partner will play a large role in the success of your journey moving forward — so always take the time to make it the best it can be.

What You Need to Know About Uterine Lining in Surrogacy

There are many different things involved in a successful embryo transfer, whether it’s a part of a surrogacy or in vitro fertilization process. Therefore, it’s important that all intended parents and surrogates talk in detail with their fertility specialist about the path ahead of them — everything that they should know before starting this complicated medical process.

If you are a surrogate, you may have come across a lot of information about uterine lining in your research. Many surrogates religiously track their uterine lining up until their embryo transfer process, which may make you wonder, “What is the big deal about uterine lining in surrogacy?”

As always, we recommend you speak with a fertility specialist or gynecologist for the most accurate information about what the thickness of uterine lining will mean in your situation. In the meantime, you can find the basic things you need to know below.

What Role Does Uterine Lining Play in IVF?

Every surrogacy (and every IVF) process requires the transfer and eventual implantation of an embryo to be successful. While the quality of the embryo plays a large role in whether it implants in the uterus, one of the other important factors in this process is the thickness of a woman’s uterine lining.

If a uterine lining is too thin, it can lead to failed implantation or even early pregnancy loss. A thick uterine lining provides a safe and welcoming environment for a transferred embryo, making it easier for the embryo to implant into the walls of the uterus. This thicker lining will provide nourishment to the embryo as it grows, making it more likely that a successful pregnancy can be carried to term.

Before you start your journey as a surrogate, your fertility specialist will likely conduct a few tests beforehand to ensure your uterus is ready for this process. These tests will also be completed again before an embryo is transferred to your uterus.

What Numbers Should You Look for in Your Uterine Lining?

Remember, every woman is different, and only your doctor can accurately explain what your uterine lining should look like before implantation. In general, studies have shown that a uterine lining should be 6 or more millimeters for successful implantation. An ideal lining is at least 7 to 8 millimeters thick.

The quality of a uterine lining refers to more than just thickness, however. In order for the correct thickness to be present in the first place, there must be the correct tissue structure, the right receptors within the uterus, and the right balance of hormones. This is why surrogates are often required to take estrogen and progesterone prior to embryo transfer — to regulate the proper hormone balance for a hospitable womb.

You may also hear the phrase “triple stripe” from others going through the IVF and surrogacy process. This refers to the structure of the lining in the uterus. A more receptive lining has a tri-laminar appearance, usually three lines right on top of each other. Again, your medical professional will look for this three-layer appearance before beginning the embryo transfer process.

How Can You Improve Your Uterine Lining?

In most cases, the thickness of a woman’s lining is out of her control. It’s something that is regulated by her own body and hormones prescribed by her doctor. Every body is different, which means that one woman may naturally have a better uterine lining than another.

Before you start researching ways to improve your uterine lining, we encourage you speak with your fertility specialist or medical professional. You should not take medical advice from anyone other than this professional.

That said, there are a few things that may help improve your uterine lining — and certainly won’t harm it:

  • Partake in regular, moderate exercise to get your blood flowing throughout your body.
  • Eliminate or limit substances that may restrict blood flow, such as caffeine, nicotine, seasonal allergy medications and cold remedies to stop nasal swelling.
  • Consider acupuncture.
  • Think about your body weight; extra weight and fat cells can promote pelvic blood flow and additional estrogen.
  • Look into nutritional supplements such as vitamin E and L-arginine.

Your doctor can give you the best idea of what steps might be helpful in your situation. At the end of the day, however, stressing out about the thickness of your uterine lining will do more harm than good. What will be will be — an important thing to learn early on in a surrogacy journey.

To learn more about the medical process of surrogacy, we encourage you to contact a local fertility specialist or one of our agency’s surrogacy specialists today.

5 Dangers of Online Surrogacy Support Groups

If you’re considering starting the surrogacy process, whether as a prospective surrogate or intended parent, you’ve probably come across websites and forums where members of the surrogacy journey share their stories, opinions and advice for others. These websites can be a great way for you to learn more about surrogacy from someone who has been where you are — but it’s important that you take the information presented here with a grain of salt.

When it comes to learning about the surrogacy process, there is no better source of information than the surrogacy specialists at American Surrogacy. When you call 1-800-875-BABY(2229), an experienced surrogacy professional is able to answer your personal questions and help you best determine whether surrogacy is the right path for you.

Proper research is important for every prospective surrogate and intended parent. While we are not discounting the helpful stories and information presented on sites and forums where anyone can share their experience, there are a few things you should know about these information sources.

  1. Not all information is accurate.

You know that not everything on the internet is true — and that is certainly correct when it comes to information shared about surrogacy and other IVF processes.

Surrogacy is still a new way of building a family, which means there are many people out there who do not fully understand how the process works. People who only mean well may be the people constantly sharing incorrect information in online support groups and forums, leading others astray. Don’t take everything you read on these support groups and websites to heart. You could easily be misled about how surrogacy actually works, putting your own surrogacy journey at risk.

For the most accurate information about the surrogacy process, you should speak with a surrogacy agency, a surrogacy attorney and a fertility clinic.

  1. Dramatic circumstances and stories are actually in the minority.

When people hear about surrogacy, their minds often go to the dramatic stories they hear on the news: of surrogates becoming pregnant with their own children, of surrogates taking custody of children, of intended parents refusing to take responsibility for their children, etc. While these stories are popular online, they are in the small minority in real life. The majority of surrogacy stories go well without any hiccups — but, because those are “boring” in comparison, people don’t talk about them as much.

The same applies to stories shared in surrogacy support groups and forums. Because dramatic stories get the most attention, you may see a disproportionate number of these in your feed. Don’t let these scare you away from surrogacy; make sure to speak with a surrogacy professional about how surrogacy actually works before making a decision for your family.

  1. Some support groups are formed with an agenda.

People on the internet always have an opinion, no matter how hard they may try to be objective. However, some people don’t try to be objective at all — and instead use the internet as a way to deliver biased information to sway people one way or another.

There is a very vocal anti-surrogacy community online. You may find yourself stumbling upon a support group or forum that claims to offer helpful information when it really just offers biased, non-factual information intended to dissuade people from surrogacy. For example, even though American surrogacy is very different from surrogacy elsewhere in the world, people use ethical breaches in international surrogacy as reasoning against surrogacy on U.S. soil.

Before you join any online support group or forum, take your time to investigate who is hosting the discussion and what personal affiliations they may have. Even if a support group itself is not biased, remember that certain people will want to promote their own ideas in the comments, as well.

  1. There is always a risk in finding surrogacy partners online.

More and more people are using online support groups and forums to help them find a surrogate or intended parent to share their journey with. A great number of these people use these sources because an agency will not help them match for a traditional surrogacy, or because the laws in their state or country disallow the kind of surrogacy they wish to pursue.

If you use these methods to help yourself find a surrogacy partner, be cautious. Not all intended parents and surrogates on online sites have been properly screened for the surrogacy process. “Matching” with one of these partners on your own can delay your surrogacy journey as they follow through with screening, especially if they are not approved for the surrogacy process.

Working with an experienced surrogacy agency like American Surrogacy is the best way to find a safe and approved surrogate or intended parent for your journey.

  1. Be prepared for “shaming” of surrogates and intended parents.

Online shaming: It’s something that you’ve probably seen in all aspects on the internet, and surrogacy is no different. People are able to say terrible things online that they would never say in a face-to-face conversation because they are emboldened by their anonymity and the lack of consequences.

If you join a surrogacy support group, be prepared for seeing (and receiving) some mean comments about your surrogacy choices. No matter which path you choose, there is always someone on the other side who might disparage your decision. Try not to take these comments to heart. If a surrogacy support group starts doing more harm than good in your surrogacy journey, it’s probably time to give it up and find your information from a local, experienced professional instead.

For more information about surrogacy support groups, including which ones to join and which ones to avoid, reach out to your surrogacy specialist. They can also answer whatever questions you may have about the personal surrogacy journey ahead of you.

5 Gift Ideas for Intended Parents from Surrogates

As a surrogate, you will be giving the greatest gift ever to your intended parents — the gift of parenthood. During your surrogacy process, you’ll likely create a strong personal relationship with the intended parents, and it may be one that lasts for a lifetime.

Because surrogacy is always a partnership, sometimes surrogates wish to honor that relationship with a little something extra. In these situations, a surrogate may ask, “Can I get the intended parents a gift?”

Of course you can! Like you would in any other close friendship, you may think about getting your intended parents presents for special occasions — including the delivery of their child. But, what is appropriate when it comes to giving your intended parents a gift?

If you are considering giving your intended parents a present or other commemorative item, we encourage you to contact your surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for suggestions. Your specialist is the one that knows your surrogacy situation best, which means she can provide the best guidance for moving forward on this issue.

In the meantime, here are a few ideas you may consider as you think about giving a gift to your intended parents.

1. Something for the Baby

You and your intended parents will forever be bonded by the precious life you bring into the world — which means that you both will have a great deal of love for this little bundle of joy. As you’re considering gift ideas, you may think about something that you can get for the baby. Many surrogates enjoy picking out a new outfit, a special toy or something else that the little one will enjoy. Giving this to the intended parents at a baby shower or after delivery can be a natural thing, which can eliminate some of the awkwardness of giving and receiving gifts during the surrogacy process.

2. Something for the New Parents

Many intended parents who choose surrogacy do so to have their first child. This means they will become parents for the first time and, therefore, be responsible for caring for a child for the first time ever. Because you are a parent yourself, you may choose to get them a “first-time parent” kit, or another useful item like a diaper bag, playpen, or more. Think about what you wish you had in advance when you had your first child, and consider gifting that to the intended parents to make their adjustment a bit easier.

3. Something Handmade

If you choose to give your intended parents something special, keep in mind that handmade, heartfelt gifts are often the best to give. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a gift for an intended parent, should you choose to give them a gift at all; they will appreciate anything that goes above and beyond the incredible gift of life you are already giving them.

A few wonderful handmade gifts include blankets, paintings, pictures, baked goods and more. Think about what some of your talents are, and find a way to incorporate them into a gift that your intended parents will enjoy!

4. Something to Commemorate the Process

When you complete a surrogacy journey with your intended parents, you are part of a partnership that you will remember for years to come. So, you might consider gifting the intended parents something that celebrates the journey you took together. While they will always have something to remind them of their surrogacy journey (their child), there are also some other great ideas for commemorating the partnership you made with them.

People choose to document and celebrate their surrogacy process in several ways. Consider creating a surrogacy memory book of your pregnancy for the intended parents and the child, buying a piece of jewelry or figurine representing surrogacy, or put together something as simple as a beautifully framed picture from your delivery. You’ll always have your surrogacy memories, and these kinds of gifts will help them stay strong forever.

5. Nothing — Just a Happy, Healthy Baby

As a surrogate, you are never under any obligation to get your intended parents any kinds of gifts. After all, you are already giving them the most priceless gift you can. You are choosing to sacrifice your time, body and energy to help bring a child into the world; you don’t have to do anything additional. The most important thing to do is to focus on having a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

If you aren’t sure about what kind of present is appropriate for intended parents, or whether to give your intended parents a present at all, remember that your surrogacy specialist is here to help. She can provide suggestions for what is best in your situation and make sure that all parties in the surrogacy process are comfortable as possible. No matter what you decide to do, your intended parents will forever be grateful for the surrogacy decision you have made.

5 Gift Ideas for Surrogates from Intended Parents

Surrogacy creates unique, strong and loving partnerships between intended parents and their surrogate. After all, their surrogate is someone who is generously and selflessly giving her time, body and energy to help them reach their parenthood dreams. It’s only natural that they want to make her feel appreciated for her efforts — which is why many intended parents ask, “Can we get our surrogate a gift?”

The answer is yes! It’s common for intended parents to gift their surrogate something upon the delivery of their child, just as she is giving them a perfect, healthy child. A gift can be a wonderful way to show appreciation and further express to a surrogate just how much she means to the intended parents.

But, there are a few things to keep in mind while selecting a gift for a surrogate. Perhaps the most important is surrogate compensation laws. Many states have regulations on what kind of compensation a surrogate receives for her services, and gifts can be counted among this “compensation,” even if they are worth more emotionally than financially.

Before giving a gift to your surrogate, reach out to your surrogacy specialist. She can explain which gifts are appropriate in your situation and even help you pick out one that best expresses your feelings. For more information about this topic, feel free to call 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

Below, you’ll find a few ideas to help you find the best gift for your surrogate.

1. Something for Her Pregnancy Journey

Not all surrogacy gifts have to come after the baby is delivered. In fact, showing your surrogate your appreciation while she is still pregnant will mean a lot to her. Once you have approval from your surrogacy specialist to do so, don’t be afraid to send your surrogate treats to make her pregnancy a little better. Consider things like spa kits, meal delivery services, movie tickets for a night out and more. She is expending a lot of energy while she grows your little baby, so give her the chance to take some time off and look after herself for a little bit.

2. Something Handmade

Many intended parents with to give their surrogate a gift after the baby is born, and this can be a great time to do so. Remember, your surrogate is likely receiving surrogate compensation already, so giving money or other kind of financial gifts is often not necessary — and may even go against your state’s surrogacy laws and your personal surrogacy contract. To avoid these complications, you can gift her something a bit more special.

Consider a handmade gift for your surrogate, like a painting, a blanket or some yummy treats to enjoy. The effort that you put into making these kinds of gifts will often mean much more than anything you could have bought her, which makes them the perfect gift for intended parents to pass along to their surrogate.

3. Something for Post-Delivery Recovery

Childbirth is a massive endeavor, and your surrogate will likely need weeks to recover from her experience. Therefore, even after the surrogacy process is finished, she will continue sacrificing her time and body to making your parenthood dreams come true.

You can make her recovery process a little easier with a gift that helps her heal and relax from her delivery process. You might create a personalized spa basket, with lotions, bath bombs and more to help her unwind from the stress of delivery and getting back to her everyday responsibilities.

4. Something for Her Family

Your surrogate isn’t the only one who has been giving up time and energy for your surrogacy; her family will have been doing so, as well. They may have had to postpone family vacations, give up some normal everyday activities and more to keep her safe and healthy during her pregnancy.

So, when you’re giving your surrogate a post-delivery gift, don’t forget about her family, too. Perhaps get small gifts (like stuffed animals or toys) for young children and put together a “date night in a basket” gift for herself and her spouse. If your surrogacy specialist allows it, you might even consider creating a gift like a day at the zoo for the whole family to enjoy once your surrogate has recovered.

5. Something to Commemorate the Journey

Remember that surrogacy is a life-changing journey that your surrogate will remember for years to come. Many intended parents choose to celebrate that journey and their new friendship with a gift commemorating this experience. You may give her a copy of the surrogacy memory book you’ve created for your child, a beautiful framed photo of you all, or a simple necklace or figurine representing motherhood and friendship. These can be some of the most beautiful gifts that surrogates receive and ones she will treasure forever.

Remember, whatever you decide to give your surrogate should always be up to you and always come from the heart. You do not need to get a surrogate something from every category above; talk with your surrogacy specialist to find out what she recommends and what is best in your situation before buying anything for your surrogate.