You know what it’s like to be pregnant and to give birth. But surrogacy is an entirely new rodeo. Here are seven things that first-time surrogates should know before they start:
The Number of Appointments
As you’ll remember from previous pregnancies, there can be quite a few appointments involved in a standard, healthy pregnancy. With a gestational pregnancy, however, the number of appointments will be significantly increased.
Even after all the appointments and scheduled tests confirm that you’re physically healthy enough for surrogacy, you’ll need to attend appointments for fertility treatments and embryo transfers. This stage involves close monitoring of your uterine lining and hormone levels, as well as how your body is generally responding to the medication, so you’ll be in and out of the fertility clinic often. Once you’re confirmed pregnant, you’ll still be much more closely monitored than you would be in non-surrogate pregnancies. In IVF situations, doctors want to make sure the embryo “sticks!”
Throughout the pregnancy, even if things are stable and progressing normally, you’ll attend more appointments with your OBGYN than you typically would. It’s a major time commitment, and first-time surrogates are often surprised at just how many appointments there really are.
The Side Effects of the Medications
Not every surrogate will experience side effects from the fertility medications she’s prescribed, but it can definitely be irritating. There are quite a few medications you’ll be expected to take and at very specific times. Some you’ll need to inject, some are taken orally, and some may even be administered via a patch.
Side effects of all these medications can vary, but surrogates have commonly experienced headaches, nausea, vaginal discharge and hot flashes. The severity of the side effects can vary, too. But for those who do experience medication side effects, the discomfort can detract from the excitement.
How Slow the Early Steps Feel
So much of the pre-pregnancy surrogacy process feels like you’re hurrying to wait. And then you’ll wait some more. Completing the application, going through the screening process — all that feels painfully slow when you’re excited to meet your intended parents.
And, then once you’ve been matched, you go through the legal stage, which can also feel like it drags on. You’re excited to get pregnant! But the process of getting pregnant feels like it takes forever, too — months of medications, appointments and more waiting for the perfect time to transfer an embryo.
Don’t worry; you’ll get there eventually. You’ll just need to develop some patience along the way!
How Fast the Pregnancy Feels
Despite how long the pre-pregnancy part of surrogacy feels, the pregnancy will fly by in comparison. Maybe it feels that way because you won’t be busy with any of the baby preparations you’ve had to handle in the past. All you have to do is attend appointments and take care of yourself!
In many ways, this pregnancy may be more relaxing than your previous ones, because the intended parents are the ones doing all the pre-baby prep.
The Vetting Process
Like most professionals, American Surrogacy carefully selects surrogates. Many women have a heart generous enough to carry a child for someone else, but only a few women will meet the physical and emotional requirements to become a surrogate.
The vetting process is lengthy and can be pretty tedious. There’s plenty of paperwork to submit, questions to answer, medical exams you’ll need to complete and more. All of this can feel frustrating and, at times, a little invasive — but it’s important for your health and safety, as well as the baby’s, and for the legal protection of intended parents.
We (and you) need to be absolutely sure that you’re physically, mentally and emotionally ready for this. So the screening process is a surprisingly big, but necessary, hill to climb. Remember that we want you to meet the requirements, too!
How Long it Takes to Collect Medical Records
Don’t underestimate how long it’ll take to gather the necessary paperwork and records for your screening process. A doctor will need to review your medical records, including prenatal records and birth histories. These are to ensure that your body handles pregnancy well, that you’ve had no past complications, to review any current medications or potential health risks and more.
Your American Surrogacy specialist will walk you through all the records you’ll need to submit, but obtaining those can be a pain. You might have to reach out to different doctors at different locations, and they can take a while to get back to you. A word of advice: Start as early as possible and keep at it!
How Different This Hospital Experience Is
In comparison to past births, many first-time surrogates are surprised at how relaxing their time in the hospital is. Once the baby is born and the hard part is over, your job is pretty much done. In the past, you’ve had a newborn on your hands, but now you can just focus on resting and recovering.
At most, you’ll be pumping for the intended parents, and that’s only if you’ve agreed to do so in your surrogacy contract. No feedings in the middle of the night, no crying baby — just well-earned sleep and the satisfaction of seeing the family you helped unite.
First-time surrogates are often surprised at the ways in which this experience differs from their past pregnancies. What were some of the things that you were surprised by in your first surrogacy journey? Let us know in the comments!