7 Questions You May Get from Your Kids When You’re a Surrogate — And How to Answer Them

When you’re considering becoming a gestational carrier, you may be unsure of how your children will respond to your news. You may be hopeful that they will share your excitement to help bring a child into the world — but explaining to them that child is not their sibling can get a bit confusing.

Don’t worry, because American Surrogacy is here to help. When you work with our agency, our surrogacy specialists can help you prepare for this conversation with tips and suggestions. We know having the support of your entire immediate family is important — kids included.

Remember, you can always talk to your surrogacy specialist anytime by calling her at 1-800-875-BABY(2229). But, in the meantime, here are some common questions you might get from your child during your surrogacy journey — and how to respond to them in an age-appropriate way.

1. “What is surrogacy?”

This will likely be the first question you receive from your child as you inform them of your surrogacy decision. Your answer will vary based on your child’s understanding of the reproductive process and how much information you want to give them.

Our suggestion? Try something short and simple. Most children will accept complicated concepts easily; over-explaining might only make things worse.

“Surrogacy is a way that Mommy can help someone else become parents. The people who I’m working with really want to have a baby, but they can’t because the mom’s tummy is broken/the dad(s) can’t carry a baby like I can. So, they’re going to make the baby themselves, and put it in Mommy’s tummy until the baby is old enough to be born. Then, the baby will go home with his or her parents!”

2. “Why can’t the baby be in their mommy’s tummy?”

Infertility can be a tough conversation for any adult to have. Explaining it to children can be easier or harder, depending on your child’s level of understanding.

“Sometimes, some women’s tummies don’t work the way Mommy’s does. They want really badly to be pregnant with their baby, but sometimes they need a little help from people like me.”

On the other hand, if you are carrying for an LGBT couple or a single man, you can take this opportunity to explain to your child about alternative ways people build families, if they can’t conceive naturally:

“You know how I’ve told you how people who want a baby very much can have one together? They don’t have to be just a mom and a dad. I’m carrying for two men who really want to have a baby, but they don’t have a woman to be pregnant for their baby. So, I volunteered!”

Similarly, you can say: “Even though the dad I’m carrying for hasn’t found someone to have a baby with, he still wants to be a dad very badly. So, I’m stepping in to help him! The doctors take a little bit from him and from another woman to make the baby, and the baby will live in my tummy until they are strong enough to go home.”

3. “Will the baby be my brother/sister?”

It can be complicated to explain in vitro fertilization and genetics to young children. As awkward as it may be, keep in mind that openness with your children about the reproductive process is proven to be much better than using euphemisms. Try to explain this process in an age-appropriate way, like so:

“No, the baby will not be your sibling. See, in surrogacy, doctors take a little bit from the woman who wants to be a mom and a little bit from the man who wants to be a dad. They put it together to make a baby, and they put that tiny baby inside of me. I’m just a babysitter; I’ll carry them until they’re big and strong enough to go home with their parents!”

4. “Why can’t the baby stay with us?”

If you’ve done your proper work to educate your child, they will understand that the baby you’re carrying is not your sibling — and will go home with their parents after birth. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get some pushback from your child if they really want a sibling. So, be honest with them:

“Your mom/dad and I decided that our family is complete the way it is! We just want to give all of our love to you (and your siblings)! The baby’s parents are very excited for him/her to come home; I’m just helping out by babysitting for a little bit.”

5. “Will you give me up like you’re giving this baby up?”

Sometimes, the idea of surrogacy can make your older children jealous. Knowing that you are not keeping the baby you carry, they may wonder if the same will happen to them. Reassure them with love and empathy:

“Of course not! Your mom/dad and I love you very much. We wanted you just as badly as these parents want their baby. I’m just babysitting until this little one is ready to go home. While I love them, I love them like I love your friends. At the end of the day, you’re my child, and I’m going to always be your mom and love you very much.”

6. “Will I get to meet the baby?”

Before answering this question, it’s important that you talk with the intended parents. Most intended parents would be thrilled about letting your children meet their child; after all, it can be tough for a child to visualize the end of the surrogacy process without seeing it firsthand.

If it will be too complicated for your child to meet the baby you’re carrying, offer some alternatives:

“You know, I don’t know if that will be possible, but I’ll tell you what — why don’t you and I put together something for the baby when he/she goes home? How about drawing a picture, writing a letter or picking out a special toy?”

Following these steps can help your child work through their feelings and bring a sense of conclusion to the surrogacy process.

7. “I hate the baby! Why can’t they just go home with their parents now?”

While some children can get too attached to the child in their mother’s bellies, others go the other direction. It’s totally normal for children of surrogates to feel jealousy and other conflicting emotions about the intended parents’ baby. After all, they are likely seeing less of their mother as she attends to her surrogacy duties — and that can be jarring for a child who has never experienced that before.

If your child lashes out or expresses negative emotions about the intended parents’ baby, you need to quickly and seriously tell them their anger is not appropriate.

“Listen to me: Hate is a very strong word. Are you sure you mean that? Or are you just upset that the baby is taking up more of my time than you’re used to? Remember, as soon as the baby is strong enough, he/she will be going home with their parents, and I’ll be all yours again. In the meantime, remember that it’s our job to keep this baby safe and loved — and I will not tolerate any kind of comment like this again, do you understand?

At first, kids and surrogacy can seem complicated — but many of our gestational carriers have successfully navigated this journey with the support of all of their immediate family.

Have more questions about explaining surrogacy to your kids or the surrogacy process in general? Reach out to your specialist anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

What to Consider Before Using a Family Member’s Gametes

Thinking about using a family member’s sperm or egg to create your embryos? It may seem like an easy and obvious solution in a long and complex journey to become a parent.

There are a number of reasons you might be considering partnering with a family member as part of the surrogacy process. Maybe:

  • you’d rather talk to someone you know and trust about an intimate genetic donation.
  • you hope that by using gametes from within the family gene pool, the baby will look more like the intended parents.
  • you want to cut costs by not having to pay gamete donor fees.
  • you worry about working with a donor you don’t know.

However, this type of gamete donation requires more thought than an outside-the-family donation. The Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) advises that “programs that choose to participate in intra-familial arrangements should be prepared to spend additional time counseling participants and ensuring that they have made free, informed decisions.”

Fertility clinics and professionals such as American Surrogacy take extra care to educate people who are considering using a family member’s gametes as part of the surrogacy process. You can always contact our specialists anytime to learn more about this kind of surrogacy journey.

In the meantime, learn about a few unique aspects to this type of gamete donation.

Emotional Considerations

Gestational surrogacy and gamete donation within the family can be an intimate experience that brings family members closer together forever. But, despite the potential for benefits, these experiences can also be emotionally challenging and put strain on even the strongest family bonds.

Family members should be counseled about the ways in which gamete donation could affect their relationships, including how to prepare and work to preserve their bonds. The emotional implications of gamete donation should not be downplayed. Remember:

  • Your family relationships will be permanently changed.
  • The relationship of your child with some family members will change because of unique biological connections.
  • Existing insecurities, jealousies and tensions are often heightened, possibly permanently.

With proper counseling from a surrogacy professional, family members can decide if they’re ready for the benefits and challenges they may face with this specific type of gamete donation. They can also learn how to appropriately prepare themselves.

Financial Considerations

Using a family member’s donated gametes rather than selecting a donor from a cryobank, for example, may save you some time and money. This is one reason why intra-family gamete donation is often considered.

The costs of working with a donor through a gamete donor bank will vary, so ask your fertility clinic if they have an in-house gamete donor program or if they offer discounted rates when you work with a certain donor bank. Often, fertility clinics will have at least one donor bank that they frequently work with. They can provide advice about minimizing costs if you’re interested in that route.

If you do decide to work with a family member, remember that intended parents should cover the costs of the necessary procedures. This usually includes screening for health concerns, the cost of egg harvesting and the related fertility medications (if applicable), and more.

Legal Considerations

You already know and trust your family member, so why would you need to involve a lawyer?

The fact is many custody disputes in surrogacy occur when an extended family member is the biological parent of the child involved and the participants fail to receive proper legal counseling or contracts.

The ASRM recommends that “participants in these arrangements, including partners of donors and surrogates, should seek independent legal advice from attorneys with specific expertise in third-party reproduction to determine their legal rights and duties in entering into these relations.”

Surrogacy professionals, including American Surrogacy, also always encourage everyone involved in these arrangements to retain separate attorneys experienced in assisted reproduction law. Even when you’re entering into a donation agreement with a loved and trusted family member, it’s important that you establish a legally binding donor contract, just like you would with anyone else. This protects everyone involved (including the child) from future legal complications.

In family gamete donations, the donor is literally closer to home. Therefore, there should be additional discussions in the legal contract regarding inheritance, biology and the donor’s social role in the child’s life.

Always remember: Third-party reproduction laws vary by state and situation, so it’s even more necessary that you consult an experienced ART lawyer about this type of gamete donation, regardless of family ties.

The Takeaway

At first, using a family member’s gametes to create your embryos for surrogacy may seem like the obvious choice. But you should spend some time talking with an American Surrogacy professional about it to make sure that everyone involved is truly ready.

The ASRM agrees: “Providers should be prepared to spend more time screening and counseling participants compared to anonymous or unrelated known collaborative reproductive arrangements.” It goes on to say that, “Programs should strongly recommend that prospective participants, including partners of donors and surrogates, undergo psychological counseling by a professional experienced in surrogacy or gamete donation. These visits should focus attention on how participants will cope with the unique aspects of the proposed arrangement and on the consequences for the prospective child.”

American Surrogacy is equipped to talk to you and your family member about gamete donation, so you can mutually decide whether or not it’s right for you. If you decide against family member gamete donation, we can talk to you about finding a gamete donor from outside your family to help you complete your surrogacy journey.

Call us now at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to learn more.

5 Support Tips for Spouses of Surrogates

When your spouse first told you of her plans to be a gestational carrier, you may have felt a lot of emotions. Now that she’s in the middle of her journey, you likely share her excitement – and you’re proud of her selfless decision to help create a family.

But, being the spouse of a surrogate can sometimes seem like a passive job. After all, she’s the one doing all the work, and you might have no idea what you can do to help out as she brings a miracle into the world.

Fortunately, American Surrogacy is here to help. Below, we’ve gathered a few tips for spouses of surrogates like yourself. Next time you find yourself wanting to help out your spouse during her gestational pregnancy, remember these suggestions:

#1: Make a Game Plan Early On.

The worst thing a spouse of a surrogate can do is wait until she is in the middle of her pregnancy to start helping her out. While your spouse will be the one carrying the intended parents’ child, her surrogacy journey will affect your entire family. You must all make a plan for this journey before you even get started.

When your spouse first mentions her desire to be a surrogate, you should sit down with her and think hard about how this journey will go. She won’t be able to handle her usual responsibilities at certain points, so how will you cover those as her spouse? Who will take care of your children while she attends doctor’s appointments? What would you both do if she were put on bedrest during the end of her pregnancy?

Your spouse’s surrogacy specialists can always assist you in this conversation, but it’s important that you and your spouse can make a plan that works best for your family as early as possible. That will make the journey ahead that much easier.

#2: Don’t Wait to Be Asked.

When a woman is a gestational carrier, she has a lot on her mind: maintaining a healthy pregnancy, cultivating a relationship with her intended parents, and taking care of her everyday responsibilities. She shouldn’t have to make her spouse a chore list, too.

As a spouse, you need to identify the areas in which your wife or girlfriend may need help. Don’t wait for her to ask you to do the dishes or cook dinner; take initiative and be the first to step in to handle those responsibilities.

Offering to help her with certain things – “I’ll take the kids to baseball practice” – instead of asking her what she needs help with will relieve some of her stress. She’ll be grateful.

#3: Take On Her Everyday Duties.

What exactly can you help your spouse with? Think hard about the everyday responsibilities she has a mother. Whatever tasks you typically see her do, take those on for yourself.

Remember that pregnancy is hard work; your spouse will likely be physically and emotionally exhausted at certain times in her journey. Give her the chance to relax by taking care of her duties before she gets home or starts them herself. It will be a pleasant – and welcome – surprise.

Not sure what your spouse usually handles? Ask your children; they will likely know exactly what responsibilities their mom handles in their everyday lives.

#4: Be There for Emotional Support, Too.

Supporting your spouse means more than just handling the practical details of a household and family. Pregnancy and surrogacy can be emotionally draining, even in the best situations, and your spouse will likely want someone to talk (or vent) to when she’s feeling overwhelmed.

It can be tempting to try to fix the situation that is making her upset, but your spouse is likely looking for validation – not solutions. Let her know you are happy to listen to her at any time, and emphasize with her emotions, even if you can’t relate to them. She likely just needs someone to lean on in the hard times and, once she’s worked through her emotions, she’ll probably be ready to move forward with a positive attitude.

#5: Be a Distraction From the Journey.

As much as your spouse is excited for her journey as a surrogate, there will be certain times where she wants a distraction. As great as surrogacy is, it can be overwhelming – and all surrogates reach a point where they want to go about their everyday life without including a conversation about surrogacy into everything they do.

If you can tell your spouse is stressed or overwhelmed, plan something to take her mind off of her troubles. A date night with a nice dinner and movie may be just what she needs. Remind her that, even though she is carrying someone else’s baby, she is still your spouse – and her identity is more than just “someone’s surrogate.”

When she’s ready to get back to her relationship with the intended parents or her next doctor’s appointment, be there to support her. But don’t be afraid to take time for yourself as a couple – without her surrogate pregnancy hanging over your heads.

Want more advice on supporting your spouse through her gestational pregnancy? Her surrogacy specialist will always be here to help. Give our team a call anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for personal suggestions to get your spouse through the next nine months.

Can You Be a Surrogate if You’ve Smoked Marijuana?

With the recent legalization of marijuana across many states in the U.S., prospective surrogates are increasingly asking: Will a history of marijuana use impact my chances of becoming a surrogate?

It’s certainly a complicated question. Where recreational marijuana is legal, adults over 21 can indulge in this substance in very much the same way they can with alcohol. And women who have drunk alcohol aren’t disqualified from being a surrogate, so is it the same when it comes to using marijuana recreationally?

Not exactly. There is still some unknown when it comes to marijuana’s effect on pregnant women, and many physicians are hesitant to completely clear marijuana use during pregnancy. The previous use of marijuana before surrogacy, however, is a different story.

If you are curious how a history of marijuana use may impact your eligibility to be a surrogate, we encourage you to contact our surrogacy specialists today. We can evaluate your personal situation and help you start your medical screening process — which will be the ultimate decider of whether or not you can continue on your surrogacy journey.

In the meantime, there are some important things we want all prospective surrogates to know about this topic.

How Intended Parents’ Preferences Play a Role

Even if marijuana is legal in a surrogate’s state, that doesn’t mean that potential intended parents will be okay with a historical or current use of the substance. Ultimately, intended parents will have the right to choose what medical and personal history they are comfortable with in a surrogate candidate.

If you are a surrogate who currently uses marijuana, you will likely be hard-pressed to find intended parents who are comfortable with this — even if you plan to stop using during your pregnancy. If someone in your family uses marijuana, this could also disqualify you from the process. Remember that you will need to provide a safe home environment for the intended parents’ baby; marijuana odor or presence could make intended parents uncomfortable, and they can decline to work with you if this is detected during your home visit.

The time and frequency of your marijuana usage will likely be the deciding factor for intended parents. If you used marijuana once as a teenager, you’ll probably be able to proceed with the surrogacy process, no problem. Intended parents know that was a long time ago; as long as you are not using it at the moment, they should be comfortable with a short, distant history.

However, if you used marijuana frequently in the past, it will be the intended parents’ prerogative to decide their comfort. Some will be okay with moving forward with you; others will request another surrogate candidate.

Talking to your surrogacy specialist honestly about your substance use history will give you a better idea of how likely you will be to match with intended parents.

What About Prior Convictions?

During your application to be a surrogate, our surrogacy specialists will complete criminal background screenings. If you have a prior conviction for possession of marijuana, you may be worried that will prevent you from surrogacy.

However, surrogacy professionals and intended parents are increasingly forgiving of these kinds of convictions. With marijuana being legal in so many states now, previous marijuana convictions don’t hold the weight they used to. Some cities and states are even clearing previous convictions in the best interest of their citizens.

The bottom line? If you have a previous marijuana conviction on file, don’t let it dissuade you from applying to be a gestational carrier. In most situations, American Surrogacy will be able to work around this record and help you reach your surrogacy dreams.

Remember: You Will Be Medically Screened for Eligibility

If there’s one thing we want you to learn from this article, it’s that honesty is important. Marijuana can be a complicated subject, whether or not it’s legal in your state, but it should never be something you hide. Surrogacy is an intimate partnership based on trust. Being honest about your history is the first step.

After you have matched with intended parents, you will undergo medical screening at their fertility clinic. Drug tests will be inevitable, either at this step or before. Surrogates must refrain from substance use during this journey, and drug screenings are just a normal part of this process.

If you want to learn more about the process to become a surrogate, we encourage you to contact our surrogacy specialists anytime. We know determining eligibility can be a complicated conversation, especially when marijuana use is involved. We are happy to answer your questions and set you on the path that is right for you.

Call our specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) to learn more.

“Made in Boise” Explores the Ups and Downs of Gestational Surrogacy

Here at American Surrogacy, we know just how incredible gestational surrogacy can be for all involved. Now, thanks to a new documentary from PBS Independent Lens, more people than ever can get a close look into the beauty of this family-building process.

“Made in Boise,” a documentary film by Beth Aala, tells the surrogacy journeys of four gestational carriers and their intended parents. All of the surrogates worked through A Host of Possibilities, a local agency in Idaho run by CEO Nicole Williamson. But Williamson isn’t just the founder and CEO; she’s also a four-time gestational carrier, whose journey is also featured in the film.

The documentary explores the rewards and challenges of the process for all involved, and it’s an intimate look into the journeys of those who desperately want to be parents — and those who are generous enough to help them.

Made In Boise Trailer from beth aala on Vimeo.

“Made in Boise” is an educational film for not only those interested in surrogacy, but also those interested in learning more about the process. You can watch “Made in Boise” online here. In the meantime, we’ve recapped some of the most important lessons learned from this film below.

Why Smaller States like Idaho are Leading the Way

Williamson calls Boise, Idaho, the “unofficial” surrogacy capital of the U.S. While we at American Surrogacy are partial to our headquarters in Kansas City, we are in full agreement that it’s smaller states like ours that are quickly becoming the go-to destinations for safe, ethical gestational surrogacies.

According to the documentary, there are a few reasons why Boise is so popular for both gestational surrogates and intended parents:

  • A relatively healthy population and lifestyle, thanks to proximity to outdoor activities
  • A high population of Mormons and Catholics, who value large families
  • Surrogacy-friendly laws that allow for compensated surrogacy
  • Cheaper costs due to lower cost of living

And guess what? Our Kansas City headquarters provide many of the same advantages!

While most of the conversation about surrogacy revolves around large states like California and Florida, there are just as many intended parents and prospective surrogates in the smaller states in between the coasts. They may not be the first thought for those interested in this process but, with a little bit of research, you’ll find that these locations offer advantages that states with long-established, huge surrogacy agencies can’t match.

American Surrogacy is a prime example of this. Although we may be small, our size offers advantages you won’t find elsewhere. We rarely work with international intended parents, which means all of our clients are within the U.S. — and can easily create genuine relationships with each other through the pregnancy and after birth.

Many of the same advantages highlighted in Boise, Idaho, can be find right here in the heartland of the Midwest. And, if you’re interested in this journey, our specialists will be happy to help you out, wherever you’re from.

Why So Many Surrogates Choose to Do Second Journeys

Of the women highlighted in “Made in Boise,” the majority of them are repeat surrogates (and the one first-time surrogate reveals at the end that she plans to do another journey with her intended parents).

As we follow their stories through the documentary, it’s clear there’s one reason surrogates choose to do this again and again: their relationships with the intended parents.

Williamson and her staff take a great deal of time to match intended parents and surrogates who share the same preferences and goals. She takes it so seriously, in fact, that she chose to become a surrogate for one intended mother who had four previous matches fail. Even though A Host of Possibilities works with international intended parents, their surrogates are still able to create solid, genuine relationships with the intended parents they carry for, wherever they may be. These intended parents are shown attending doctor’s appointments, being a part of the birth, and visiting with the intended parents and their children as the months and years pass.

Good relationships between intended parents and gestational surrogates are just as important here at American Surrogacy. That’s why our team works hard to find the perfect partner for your journey and will support you through every step of the process. For the same reason, we find a great deal of our gestational carriers come back to do second journeys with our agency — and we welcome them back with open arms.

Whether you’re hoping to build a family through surrogacy or help someone else bring a child into the world, “Made in Boise” is a great way to learn more about all the ups and downs of the gestational surrogacy process. An even better way? Contacting our specialists at American Surrogacy. We will always be happy to answer any questions you have and get you the information you need to make the best decision for you.

Contact us online today or call us at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to start making your surrogacy dreams come true.

5 Tips for Choosing a Gamete Donation Bank

For various reasons, you may find yourself needing a sperm, egg or embryo donation for your gestational surrogacy journey. It can be hard enough to choose a surrogacy professional for your journey; how can you choose a sperm or egg donor for your future child?

It all starts with choosing the right gamete donation bank. There are a lot of options out there, but it’s important that you find the one that is best for your family’s needs.

Your surrogacy specialist will always be here to help. Whether you’ve found yourself needing a gamete donation in the middle of your surrogacy journey, or you’re just exploring your family-building options, our team will be happy to provide references to local gamete banks. When your embryos are ready to go, we will be ready to start you on your journey.

In the meantime, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you search for the right gamete donation bank:

1. Start With Your Fertility Clinic.

If you’ve been working with a fertility clinic for previous treatments, start by reaching out to them. Many fertility clinics have partnerships with certain gamete donation banks. You may receive a discount for using that bank, or it can make the back-and-forth process between the donation bank and your fertility clinic easier. Your fertility clinic may even have recommendations on what kind of donor you should be looking for, based on your previous fertility treatment results.

2. Look for Banks that Offer Identified Donations.

There are a lot of things you’ll consider as you decide which sperm or egg gamete to choose, but we recommend one thing, no matter what – that you choose an identified donor. While anonymous gamete donors were popular in the past (and are still an option today), research has shown that choosing an identified donor is the best choice for all involved.

As your child grows up, he or she will naturally have questions about the donor who gave them half of their genetics. These inquiries won’t be a reflection on you as a parent; it’s a natural curiosity that many children brought to families in non-traditional ways experience. It’s important that they can get the answers they need. Whether it is simple information about where they come from or more critical information in response to a health scare, it’s important to have that contact connection with a donor.

That’s not even mentioning how an identified donor can help your child connect with their biological half-siblings in the future, thanks to programs such as the Donor Sibling Registry.

3. Ask What Information a Bank Retains on its Donors.

The truth? Some donor banks are more thorough than others. As a parent, you want your child to have all the information they need as they grow up. That starts with ensuring a donor bank gathers detailed information on its donors – and updates it as time goes on.

Ask a potential donor bank these kinds of questions:

  • Do you keep a medical history on the donor?
  • How long do you keep these records?
  • Do you do genetic testing on donors?
  • Do you require donors to update their medical information on a regular basis?

4. Ask About Donor Medical Screening.

On the other hand, it’s important that a donor bank does its due diligence in protecting recipients’ interests. That means screening every donor properly before their samples can be released for public use.

Before you can trust your donor bank, you will probably want to ask these questions:

  • What kind of screening does each donor go through before being approved?
  • Do you screen for (sickle cell anemia, hepatitis B and C, HIV and AIDS, other sexually transmitted infections and genetic conditions)?
  • How often are screening tests repeated?
  • Do you follow ASRM recommendations for donor gamete screening?

Your reproductive endocrinologist and personal physician might provide a full list of medical questions to help you through this interview.

5. Go With Your Gut.

While every intended parent should do diligent research when choosing professionals to help them build their family, they must also pay attention to how a professional makes them feel. A gamete bank can answer all of your questions right, but if you are not comfortable with their specialists, it’s not the right fit for you. Choosing a gamete bank – and, therefore, a gamete donor – is a big deal. It’s a highly personal choice.

More than anything else, you must be satisfied with your choice. It’s one that will impact the rest of your life.

If you’re ready to start your search, here are a few professionals to choose from:

Want more information on how surrogacy works with an egg or sperm donation? Contact our specialists anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to learn more.

Why Doulas Aren’t Just for Surrogates

It makes sense that your gestational surrogate might be interested in working with a doula. After all, she’ll be the one going through the childbirth experience.

But, did you know that you, as an intended parent, can also benefit from a doula’s services?

Keep reading for more information on how a doula can help you, even if you’re not the one giving birth.

1. What Does a Doula Do?

A doula is not a nurse or midwife but rather a birth companion who has some level of training and experience in supporting women, babies and families through childbirth. That support is practical and physical, but it is frequently also emotional and mental.

Services that doulas provide include:

  • Pre-birth planning, coaching and support
  • Labor and delivery support (emotional and physical)
  • Postpartum care for everyone involved, including the new baby

Whether they’re massaging a woman to ease contraction pains or explaining the next steps to family members, doulas offer a wide range of services, with different types of doulas specializing in certain roles.

2. How Does a Doula Help a Woman Who is Giving Birth?

You probably have some knowledge of doulas — how they can coach, comfort, encourage and guide pregnant women and babies during pregnancy, labor and delivery. These are some of their more common and popular services.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of a birth doula’s role:

Doulas and similar birth professionals may start working with a woman (and often her spouse) during her second or third trimester. During that time, the doula may help the woman create a birth plan, offer pain management strategies to practice and give general advice on how to prepare for what’s ahead — physically, practically and emotionally.

During labor and delivery, birth doulas provide support and encouragement.

After delivery, postpartum doulas continue to offer support to the woman and her family and make sure everyone is recovering well, physically and emotionally.

Gestational surrogates — like all women experiencing pregnancy, labor and birth — can benefit from these services, if they feel it would be beneficial for their journey.

3. So, How Can a Doula Help Someone Who Isn’t Giving Birth?

It’s obvious why a pregnant woman might be interested in a doula, but why would anyone else?

Doulas are birth coaches, not nurses, so their services extend beyond physically helping your surrogate. They’re there to encourage you emotionally, too. Becoming a parent, no matter how you do it, requires plenty of emotional support and practical advice.

Just as a doula works with a woman giving birth, doulas can work with intended parents in surrogacy situations (and other family members) to prepare for this journey. With surrogacy, intended parents can talk to a doula about:

  • How you can help your gestational surrogate during her labor
  • What happens if there are unexpected medical issues
  • Who holds the baby and when, who cuts the cord and when, and other early-life decisions
  • Feeding plans for your baby
  • And more

Doulas emotionally and physically support gestational surrogates during birth, but they can also provide support to you as an intended parent. You will be going through a lot as you become a new parent; it can be helpful to have professional encouragement during an extremely emotional time.

After the baby is born, you can look to a postpartum doula for advice and continued support as you and your child settle in.

4. Where Can You Find a Doula, Birth Coach, or Similar Professional?

Your gestational surrogate’s doctor or preferred hospital may have a doula that they work with, so always ask for a referral.

You can also use these resources to find the type of birth assistance that you desire, whether that’s a birth doula, postpartum doula, or other professional:

Take your time when researching, interviewing and selecting a doula. This person will be your guide and source of support, so it’s important that you all feel comfortable with one another.

If you need help preparing for your surrogate’s upcoming due date, including deciding whether or not you’d like to work with a doula, you can always reach out to your American Surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for advice.

5 Things to Consider About Being a Surrogate as a Stay-at-Home Mom

Our gestational surrogates come from all kinds of backgrounds. Whether you work a 9-5 career job or you stay at home caring for your children, you may be a candidate for surrogacy.

However, there are some things to consider about each path. In this blog post, we’ll tackle being a surrogate when you’re also a stay-at-home mom. It’s certainly a possibility, and many of our gestational carriers have successfully followed this journey. That’s not to say there aren’t certain things to consider before getting started.

If you are interested in being a surrogate, we encourage you to speak with a surrogacy specialist for free anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229). Our staff is always willing to answer your questions and help you make the best decision for your family.

In the meantime, if you are considering surrogacy as a stay-at-home mom, we’d like you to think about these things first:

1. Childcare

As a mom, you are likely used to providing all the childcare in your home. Any errands that need to get done, your kids come with you. Unless you’re going on a date night with your spouse, you probably don’t have the need for additional childcare.

Things will change when you become a surrogate. As a gestational carrier, you will be responsible for attending all kinds of medical appointments. Your children won’t be able to come along. You’ll need to focus solely on your pregnancy at these appointments — not on corralling your children in the waiting room.

For many stay-at-home moms, the childcare that being a surrogate provides can be a nice break from their everyday responsibilities. However, it can also be complicated, especially if you’ve never had anyone care for your kids but you. Your surrogacy compensation will always cover the costs of childcare, but it will be up to you to find an appropriate childcare professional and ensure your children are under their care when you have to be somewhere for appointments.

2. Travel Requirements

You won’t just have to attend prenatal appointments at your local OBGYN. You will also need to travel to complete medical screening and the embryo transfer process of surrogacy.

Whether you are matched with a local intended parent or someone who lives in another state, there’s a high likelihood that their fertility clinic will be located far away from you. So, you will need to take time away from your children and home life for early medical appointments. Depending on the clinic’s location, your medical screening and embryo transfer may require overnight stays.

You will need to coordinate with your spouse and your childcare provider to ensure all of your everyday responsibilities are handled. Remember, your travel expenses will always be covered — but you must be organized enough to take care of your family well before you leave for these appointments.

3. Everyday Responsibilities

Speaking of everyday responsibilities involved in raising children, you will need to consider how your pregnancy might affect your ability to handle these tasks. If you have more than one child, you probably know what it’s like to be pregnant while also maintaining your child-raising duties. But, it’s a bit different when you’re a surrogate.

When you are carrying a baby for someone else, there is an added responsibility. Not only will you be expected to attend all of your medical appointments, you will need to maintain a relationship with your intended parents and follow whatever preferences they set in your surrogacy contract. This can sometimes start to interfere with your daily responsibilities, especially as you get further along in your pregnancy.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help with activities such as cooking and cleaning. You should talk with your spouse and other loved ones in your support system to create a schedule that works for all of you.

4. Bed Rest

Similarly, your everyday responsibilities will get much harder if you are put on bed rest during your pregnancy. While your surrogacy contract will always cover extra costs incurred during a bed rest requirement, there will be some extra emotional and practical stress in this situation.

Ask yourself: How will you and your spouse manage if you are on bed rest during the end of your pregnancy? How will you prepare your children?

Remember, your surrogacy specialist will always be there to support you during the hard parts of your surrogacy journey. Call her anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for more information on bed rest policies and how other surrogates have managed this development.

5. Your Family’s Feelings

Finally, if you are thinking about adding surrogacy to your stay-at-home-mom journey, you must always talk with your immediate family. While you will be the one carrying the intended parents’ baby, your entire family will be affected by your decision — and they must be prepared for the changes to come.

Before you even start the surrogacy journey, we encourage you to sit down with your spouse and your children. Ask them what they think of your interest in surrogacy. Explain what you might expect of them should you choose this path, and give them a chance to ask any questions they may have. Their cooperation and support will be crucial as you choose this journey, so you should have them on your side from the very beginning.

Need some guidance for this conversation? Your surrogacy specialist will always be there to help.

Being a surrogate as a stay-at-home mom can offer the best of both worlds. You’re spending time with your family like you always do, but you’re also helping to create another family and bringing in some extra income with your surrogate compensation.

Want to learn more about the journey of being a surrogate? Contact our specialists today to get started.

One Embryo Left: Is Surrogacy Right for You?

There are a lot of questions intended parents have to ask themselves when they’re considering gestational surrogacy. If you’ve spent months or years on other fertility treatments, you may have already exhausted a great store of your family-building savings along the way.

You might also have depleted another store — that of your previously created embryos.

If other infertility treatments have not worked for you and you have one embryo left, you may be considering surrogacy as your best chance of success. Transferring a healthy embryo into a woman who has proven her ability to carry pregnancies to term may be the last opportunity you have for a biological child.

However, there are a few things to consider before starting the surrogacy process. It’s a long journey, and it will require a great deal from you, your spouse (if applicable) and the surrogate you work with.

While gestational surrogacy with one embryo is certainly possible, certain aspects can also make it more difficult. We encourage any intended parent considering this path to call our specialists for free at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for answers to all of your questions.

In the meantime, it’s a good idea to think about the following:

The Time (and Expense) That Pre-Surrogacy Screening Takes

Surrogacy is not an easy process. It requires a long application journey, filled with background screening, medical and psychological screening, and matching with the perfect surrogacy candidate. It can take several months to get all of this done — and that’s before you even start the surrogacy medical process.

When most intended parents begin gestational surrogacy, they are committed to more than one embryo transfer. But, when you only have one embryo remaining, you may be limited to one transfer. This can make your surrogacy experience less economical; you will pay the same amount of fees and expenses as other intended parents but your journey may be a great deal shorter.

Here at American Surrogacy, a certain amount of our agency fees last as long as our partnership. You won’t need to pay those expenses again if your first embryo transfer fails; we will honor your payments until you are able to bring a healthy child home. It’s part of our commitment to an affordable surrogacy process.

If you are an intended parent with only one embryo, however, you will need to evaluate whether these expenses (and the pre-surrogacy time commitment) are worth it for you. If you only plan to complete one embryo transfer process, are you prepared for the commitment this process requires?

What happens if the embryo transfer fails? That will be time and money you cannot get back.

Wait Time for Appropriate Surrogates

Intended parents aren’t the only ones that go through a long approval process to start surrogacy; gestational carriers must undergo screening, too.

The women who choose to become surrogates are dedicated to helping someone else become a parent, whatever it takes. They want to create a genuine relationship with the intended parents they carry for, and they are committed to a long journey with those intended parents. Just like you, they want to make sure all the pre-screening and matching steps they go through are worth their time and effort.

That’s why many surrogates will only work with intended parents who are willing to complete two or more embryo transfers. If a surrogate partners with someone who only wants one embryo transfer, and that transfer fails, she will need to go through the screening and matching process all over again.

For this reason, you might expect a longer wait for a match if you are only interested in one embryo transfer. Your surrogacy specialist will do all she can to find you the perfect surrogate, but it must be a candidate who is comfortable with your anticipated timeline.

Your Plan if the Transfer Fails

Optimism is important in any fertility treatment. When you start the surrogacy process, you have to believe that your last embryo will take, and your surrogate will have a successful pregnancy.

But, what if this isn’t the case? What are your next steps?

Before you begin surrogacy with one embryo, you and your spouse (if applicable) need to think long and hard about your next steps. For women under 35, the success rate of an embryo transfer is only 53.9 percent. That means your transfer is just as likely to fail as it is to succeed — and you need to plan for what happens if a pregnancy does not occur.

You have a few options:

  • Create more embryos: If you wish to continue with surrogacy, you will need more embryos. You can either create these from donated egg and sperm, or complete the in vitro fertilization process with your own gametes. Both of these paths can take some time, so you may have to pause your surrogacy journey and eventually find another surrogate once your embryos are complete. Talk to your surrogacy specialist before starting to see what how this choice may impact your journey.
  • Pursue adoption: If your last embryo transfer fails, and you don’t want to create any more, you can always become a parent through adoption. There are several types of adoption to choose from, and you will need to research each to determine which is right for you. Our team can always connect you to our sister agency, American Adoptions, for more information on this process.

Having a set plan in case of a failed embryo transfer is crucial. That way, you won’t waste precious time trying to figure out your next steps when you could be actively working toward bringing a child into your family.

If you’re unsure of how to proceed with only one embryo, you can always contact a surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-BABY(2229). They can talk to you about your options for gestational surrogacy with our agency and help you make the best decision for your family, whatever it might be.

Are Women Choosing Surrogacy to Avoid Pregnancy? The Truth Behind the Myth

When it comes to discussions of the surrogacy process, we’ve heard it all before:

“Intended mothers pay someone else to carry their child for them because they don’t want to mess up their body. They’re so vain and materialistic.”

As all surrogacy professionals know, surrogacy is often a last resort for intended mothers who want a biological child. Yes, pregnancy is hard, and it can have dire effects on your body — but ask any intended mother, and she’ll be the first to tell you she would give anything to carry her child herself.

So, we’re here to clear the myth of intended mothers who use surrogacy to avoid pregnancy. Intended mothers aren’t celebrities paying someone for pregnancy so they can keep their own bodies in good shape; they are everyday people like you who, for one reason or another, cannot carry a biological child on their own.

What are those reasons? We’re glad you asked.

Fertility Struggles

The majority of intended mothers have attempted their own pregnancies before turning to surrogacy. In fact, many couples go through months and years of fertility treatments after unsuccessfully conceiving on their own. They may go through surgeries and other invasive treatments and procedures, all to no avail.

Some intended mothers receive a diagnosis explaining their fertility struggles. They may have a condition such as uterine fibroids or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Other women don’t even receive an answer; they go through many medical tests and treatments only to have unexplained infertility.

After experiencing so many miscarriages and failed transfers, an intended mother just wants a fertility treatment that can bring her a biological child. But, that’s not to say she completely forgets her desire to carry her own child. All intended mothers need to grieve the loss of the pregnancy experience before they can proceed with gestational surrogacy.

Dangerous Medical Conditions

Other intended mothers don’t even attempt pregnancy before choosing gestational surrogacy — but it’s not because they are lazy or want to avoid pregnancy for vanity reasons. Instead, they must avoid pregnancy to protect their health.

There are many chronic conditions that can be exacerbated by pregnancy and even put a woman in serious danger. For example, women who have type 1 diabetes put themselves at risk for preeclampsia, insulin resistance, hypoglycemia and other life-threatening conditions. Being pregnant can also exacerbate their diabetes complications for the rest of their life, not just during their pregnancy.

Many times, intended mothers with chronic conditions would love to carry their own children, but their doctors often recommend against it. It can be heartbreaking to give up this dream of pregnancy, but it’s more important for a child to have a healthy mother who can care for them throughout their life.

In other cases, women develop conditions during pregnancy that make carrying another child impossible. Take, for example, Kim Kardashian. After giving birth to two of her children, she developed placenta accreta, which made future labor and delivery difficult — and life-threatening. She was in the same position as many other intended mothers who choose surrogacy to protect their health and ensure they are around for their child’s future.

Tokophobia, or Fear of Pregnancy

It’s no secret that pregnancy and childbirth are strenuous and dangerous conditions. In fact, the majority of women in the world experience some degree of fear and anxiety about this experience, even when they are already pregnant.

Tokophobia, however, is the pathological fear of pregnancy and childbirth. Research indicates that 14 percent of women experience this fear, and it’s a rate that has been increasing in the last few decades.

Tokophobia can have serious effects on women. Like any phobia, it can be debilitating, and it can severely impact a woman’s mental health during a period where she should be as mentally and emotionally stable as possible. Tokophobia often involves feelings of dread, anxiety and depression, and it can cause women to have difficulty bonding with their children (both in utero and once they are born).

Some intended mothers experience this phobia, and it can actually be the reason they seek out surrogacy. They may be excited to become mothers but are not confident in their ability to safely and responsibly carry a child to term. Mental conditions such as phobias are not to be taken lightly, and an intended mother may pursue surrogacy to give herself the best chance at being the mother she wants to be.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s nothing to judge. Every person has the right to create their family in the way that is best for them. The only ones this decision should concern are the parents involved.

Here at American Surrogacy, we know intended mothers come to our program for many reasons. We never judge them. We are dedicated to helping parents build their family in their desired way, whatever their motivations for doing so. We are happy to work with intended parents — fathers and mothers — from many different circumstances, and we can help you, too.

If you are considering surrogacy for any reason, give our specialists a call at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact us online. We will be happy to answer your questions and help you get started with the process ahead.