What to Expect When Testing for a Surrogate Pregnancy

Everyone knows: The surrogacy medical process is long and can seem to take forever. After months of testing and measuring cycles in preparation for the embryo transfer process, waiting for a positive pregnancy result after the transfer can seem like an impossible feat, no matter whether you’re the surrogate or the intended parent.

When you’re in the middle of the surrogacy medical process, your fertility specialist will explain in detail what to expect. But, what if you haven’t started the process or want more information on exactly what to expect when testing for a positive surrogate pregnancy?

You can read more below about what happens during the testing process for a surrogate pregnancy. As always, we recommend speaking to your surrogacy specialist and fertility specialist for more detailed information about what your personal medical process will look like.

The Clinical Process

After a surrogate’s embryo transfer process is complete, her fertility clinic will eventually test for her pregnancy with an hCG level blood test. hCG levels are the hormone levels that determine if a woman is pregnant or not. How high a surrogate’s level needs to be, however, will depend upon her individual situation, including when the embryos were transferred during the incubation period and how many days have passed since the transfer was completed.

But, how long before you can expect a result?

How long a surrogate needs to wait before a beta blood test will depend on the fertility specialist’s instructions, but the first testing process usually occurs anywhere between eight to 12 days after transfer. If hCG levels indicate a surrogate might be pregnant, she’ll return a couple of days later for another blood test to see if the levels keep rising. Ideally, hCG levels should double every 48 to 72 hours.

If her levels rise enough, the fertility specialist will likely confirm the pregnancy. This is usually confirmed after the third beta appointment.

Home Pregnancy Tests: Are They Worth It?

If you’re a surrogate who is part of online support groups, you may see other surrogates post pictures of multiple home pregnancy tests from different testing times. But, if all surrogates know for sure at a fertility clinic testing whether their pregnancy is positive or not, why do they do this?

Taking home pregnancy tests is just another way for surrogates to track their increasing hCG levels. Typically, women will wait three days after an embryo transfer to take a pregnancy test — although it can take at least five days after transfer for a positive pregnancy test to show up. From there, surrogates may take a test twice a day to compare the results; if a pregnancy line is getting darker, it’s usually a sign that their hCG level is rising and they are, indeed, pregnant.

While some surrogates will wait until their clinic beta testing just to be safe, other surrogates are anxious to see whether the embryo transfer worked. This comes from the desire and hope riding on their pregnancy, so it make sense that they want that validation, even if they wait to tell intended parents until a medical confirmation.

However, it’s important to note that just because a home pregnancy test comes back positive does not mean a pregnancy is in the clear. You may receive a false positive reading, or there may be other medical issues that arise later on. So, while home pregnancy tests are a good way to relieve anxiety after an embryo transfer, it’s always a good idea to rely on your fertility clinic for a secure medical result.

If you ever have any questions about testing for your surrogate pregnancy and the process involved, we encourage you to reach out to your fertility specialist for accurate, personalized information.

3 Ways to Find Positivity in an Infertility Anniversary

Whether you’re currently in the surrogacy process or still deciding if it’s right for you, the path to where you are today has likely been a long one filled with many emotional ups and downs. In addition to the small successes you’ve achieved, you may also have experienced heartbreak.

Despite the sadness these days may bring, many intended parents choose to mark the anniversaries of some of these heartbreaks, like past miscarriages, the moment they realized they couldn’t carry a child themselves and the beginning of their surrogacy journey (especially when the process hasn’t yet produced a child of their own).

While it can be a day full of grief and sadness, it’s important that you acknowledge this day and what it means to you. Ignoring the importance of this day can have dire effects for your mental health, especially as you’re also going through the emotionally trying process of surrogacy. The best thing that you can do is embrace the feelings and memory of this day — and take certain steps to help yourself get through this emotionally difficult time.

1. Communicate What You’re Feeling.

A big part of acknowledging this sad anniversary is sharing your feelings with others. Keeping what you’re feeling inside will only elevate those difficult feelings, while letting them out one way or another can be extremely cathartic. It can be comforting to turn to a trusted friend or family member (or your partner if you are going through the surrogacy process with them) to talk about your feelings. Having someone to share your feelings with can help immensely with the loss and loneliness you may be experiencing on this day.

If you don’t feel like sharing your emotions with someone else, that’s okay. Instead of ignoring your feelings, however, try to let them out through journaling or another emotive activity.

2. Commemorate the Anniversary with Something Positive.

While this day will be a sad day, you can take steps to make something good out of it. It can help to symbolically let your negative feelings go; perhaps write down your thoughts on paper inside a balloon and release it into the air, or bury your feelings in a box. To leave a positive impact on a negative day, perhaps plant a tree or donate to a charity that means something special to you. Whatever you can do to make yourself feel a little better, make that effort to add some positivity to this day.

3. Seek Out Support.

No one should go through these difficult times alone, so we encourage all intended parents coping with a sad anniversary to reach out to their surrogacy specialist for support. Our specialists can provide emotional support, as well as refer you to trained counselors if that’s something you need. Most of the time, though, you may just need a sympathetic ear — and your surrogacy specialist is well experienced in the feelings that intended parents like you go through during these difficult times.

You may also wish to seek out support groups for intended parents like yourself. You may find comfort in talking to people who have been through the same situations as you. You can search support groups by state here, or look online for other internet support groups.

Everyone is different, and the way you decide to address this sad anniversary will ultimately be up to you. However, we highly encourage that you do take steps to acknowledge and honor this day; it’s an important part of your parenthood journey and who you are today. Remember, this sad day is just one stop on your road to becoming parents and eventually holding that special little bundle of joy in your arms.

How You Can Still Breastfeed Your Baby as an Intended Mother

As an intended mother, you may not be able to be pregnant yourself and carry your baby to term — but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on one of the most intimate parts of caring for an infant. In this case, we’re talking about breastfeeding.

You may not know that, even if you don’t carry a baby yourself, you can still breastfeed them by taking certain medical steps. Just like any other mother breastfeeding, it may be a long process with its ups and downs — but know that you can succeed in breastfeeding your baby and giving him or her all of the subsequent health benefits of doing so.

Your doctor can best explain how to proceed with induced lactation based on your individual circumstances, but here are some of the basics of the process:

How it Works

Like other pregnancy-related side effects, lactation is induced by pregnancy hormones. That’s why it’s so important to work closely with your doctor if you wish to breastfeed as an intended mother; they can help you proceed safely and effectively with inducing lactation.

Each intended mother’s situation is different but, typically, here are the steps you will take:

1. Take initial hormones.

Typically, these will be birth control pills that will “trick” your body into thinking that you’re pregnant, the first step to producing milk.

2. Replace these hormones with supplements and medication.

To promote your milk production, your doctor will give you medications and other herbal supplements after stopping the birth control pills.

3. Start pumping for milk.

To induce lactation, you’ll need to start pumping before your baby is born. By increasing the duration and frequency that you pump, your milk will hopefully come in by the time your baby is born.

4. Start nursing, but don’t be afraid to supplement.

Even women who carry their own babies have difficulties with breastfeeding, and that may be the case with you as an intended mother. If your milk supply is not substantial to feed your baby the nutrients he or she needs, don’t be afraid to use a supplemental nursing system. These are more common than you think and provide mothers a way to breastfeed their baby with their own milk and a milk supplement (like the surrogate’s milk, donated breastmilk, etc.) at the same time.

What to Consider About Breastfeeding

For many intended mothers, the opportunity to breastfeed their baby allows them to experience one of the most intimate parts of the post-partum baby-raising process. Even though they could not carry their baby to full term themselves, they are able to have that bonding experience through the intimate process of breastfeeding.

Many intended mothers also consider breastfeeding their child (with their own milk or donated milk) because of the health benefits involved. Studies have shown that breastmilk and breastfeeding may reduce the risk of many health issues for newborns, like asthma and allergies, and has also been linked to reduced risks of breast cancer and ovarian cancer for mothers.

However, breastfeeding for any mother requires time and commitment — and even more so for intended mothers. In addition to nursing a child 10 or 12 times a day, intended mothers must pump for weeks or months before their baby is born in order to successfully breastfeed their child. There is also a learning curve for breastfeeding no matter whether you’re an intended mother or gave birth to the baby yourself; it may not be right for everyone. If you decide to try breastfeeding, it’s important to recognize that you may not always get the results you want — and don’t see it as a negative reflection upon your ability to “be a mother.” Ultimately, the decision will be up to you depending on what you think is right for you and your baby.

If you’re interested in breastfeeding your baby (whether through your own breastmilk, the surrogate’s breastmilk or donated breastmilk), we encourage you to speak with your doctor to learn more about what options are available to you. At American Surrogacy, we can also help coordinate this in your surrogacy contract, should you wish to have your surrogate pump and donate her breastmilk to you.

To learn more today about our other services for intended parents, please call 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

What A Doula Does and Why You May Want One

As a surrogate, you have the right to be as comfortable as possible during your labor, including having all the support you need before, during and after your hospital stay. While you will receive much of that support from your surrogacy agency and your intended parents, you may also wish to consider hiring a doula for your surrogacy process.

A doula is a trained professional who typically helps pregnant mothers and expectant fathers through the delivery process. In surrogacy, a doula provides services to both the intended parents and their surrogate. There are generally two different kinds of doulas: a birth doula and a postpartum doula. Some doulas act as both.

What a Doula Does

While every doula’s specialties are different, their main purpose in surrogacy is to provide more specialized support for intended parents and surrogates, in addition to the general support you will receive from your surrogacy agency. You will have the chance to decide with your doula what kind of support you want, but it typically includes:

  • For Surrogates: Prenatal support and education, birth preparation, support and guidance throughout labor, counseling during postpartum emotions and issues like pumping breastmilk and post-birth recovery
  • For Intended Parents: Childcare education (like classes for newborn care, hygiene, safety and for parent preparation) and postpartum, in-home support for childcare and induced lactation

Doulas who specifically deal with the surrogacy process also provide support for the relationship between the surrogate and the intended parents. Beyond coordinating birthing preferences and preparing both for the labor process, a doula takes certain steps to help involve the intended parents in the labor process. They understand that surrogacy is a partnership and that the partnership does not end during the hospital stay. In fact, some doulas are so touched by the surrogacy process that they become surrogates themselves. When you hire an experienced doula for your surrogacy, you will know you’re in good hands.

Deciding if a Doula is Right for You

Doulas have many advantages for both intended parents and surrogates, but it’s usually surrogates who suggest hiring a doula for the labor process. However, the inclusion of a doula in the labor and postpartum processes of your surrogacy is a decision that must be made by both the intended parents and the surrogate. After all, surrogacy is an intimate process, and including a doula must only be done if both parties are comfortable.

If you’re considering including a doula in your surrogacy process, your surrogacy specialist can help mediate this conversation between you and the intended parents. It’s important to do diligent research on why you think a doula is right for you if you’ve never used one before, and your specialist can also help you understand the pros and cons of using this professional. Intended parents may be more comfortable if you seek out a doula that is specifically trained in surrogacy services to maximize the benefits for both parties.

Another thing to consider is the cost of a doula. Even with a doula who specifically works with surrogacy cases, the majority of her services are tailored to the surrogate during the labor process. Therefore, not all intended parents may be comfortable paying for this extra service if they’re not familiar with the benefits. If having a doula be a part of your labor process is important to you, talk with your surrogacy specialist about how to bring up the costs of this service with the intended parents.

How to Find the Doula that’s Right for You

When you want to include a doula in your labor process, it’s important to do your research before presenting this idea to your intended parents. This means finding a professional that meets your preferences for services provided and the associated cost. Typically, a birth doula costs between $1,000 and $2,000, and a postpartum doula can cost anywhere from $35 to $60 an hour.

Many surrogates work with surrogacy-specific doulas to receive labor and postpartum care that’s tailored to their situation. These doulas should be willing to speak to you about their services before you commit to hiring them. Some professionals to consider include:

In addition, your surrogacy specialist may be able to help you find a local doula who meets your needs.

Including a doula in your surrogacy process is a personal decision to make, and it will not be right for everyone. However, if you’re interested in these services, start your research and let your surrogacy specialist know as early as possible — to best coordinate the inclusion of this professional in your surrogacy process.

5 Ways to Stay in Contact with Your Long-Distance IPs

When you choose to become a surrogate, you will play an integral part in the matching process. You’ll decide what you want in an intended parent, and your surrogacy specialist will help you find the intended parents that meet your surrogacy expectations.

However, there’s a good chance that the intended parents that you’re matched with may not be located close to you. So, if your intended parents live too far away for easy contact, how can you still build a healthy, strong relationship during the surrogacy process?

Your surrogacy specialist will always be available to help make your communication with the intended parents easier, whether that’s through offering suggestions or mediating the contact herself. Many of our surrogates who work with long-distance IPs use these methods:

1. Email and Text Communication

One of the most convenient ways for you to stay in contact with your intended parents is through sending emails or text messages. While you can certainly utilize phone conversations for urgent contact, it may be best to stick with these methods instead for sending little updates throughout your surrogate pregnancy. This way, you both can send and receive communication back and forth at your own convenience and in a way that is more casual than scheduled phone calls or visits. Texts and emails also make it easy for you to attach photos of sonograms and your growing stomach — which the intended parents will likely appreciate if they cannot be there to experience the growth of their unborn baby themselves. You and they may choose to even send updates about your own lives during this time in quick texts that, again, don’t take any time out of your days.

2. Video-Calling

When intended parents cannot be present for important milestones during your pregnancy, it can be disappointing for them. So, if your intended parents cannot make it to your doctor’s appointments, see if you can video-call them during the visit. That way, they not only get the chance to hear what your doctor has to say and ask them questions, but they can also feel like they’re physically there for important events like sonograms.

3. Phone Calling

Like video calling, having frequent phone calls is important to building a relationship with your intended parents. This is certainly an option for updating intended parents on your pregnancy journey and just for learning more about them. However, in a long-distance surrogacy, it’s important to consider time zones and each other’s daily schedule to make sure that a phone call is possible. Sometimes, if you call unexpectedly, an intended parent may automatically worry that something is wrong.

4. In-Person Visits

Generally, you will meet the intended parents in-person several times during your surrogacy process: at the beginning to meet you and solidify a match, during the embryo transfer process and when the baby is born. However, some intended parents may want to visit you outside of these settings, perhaps to be present for a doctor’s appointment or just to get to know you better. They will usually be the ones that come to you (if you want to visit them, they may be able to help cover your travel expenses). You should welcome these visits; they’re a great way to build a solid relationship with the intended parents and make the rest of the surrogacy process more comfortable for all of you.

5. Sending Them Special Gifts

Although you are in no way obligated to do so, a surrogate may want the intended parents to know a little more about her and the community where she lives while pregnant. You may wish to send your intended parents meaningful gifts from your state so they can feel more connected to you — perhaps a memento from the first time you felt the baby kick or a picture of your stomach at a state landmark. These will be useful to the intended parents as they develop a surrogacy story for their child to know as they grow up. We encourage you to speak to your surrogacy specialist to find out whether a gift you’re considering is appropriate for your relationship.

Ultimately, the kind of communication that you have with your intended parents will depend upon your personal relationship. When you first solidify your match and complete the surrogacy contract, your surrogacy specialist will help you both set expectations for communication moving forward. Of course, from there, your communication frequency may change as you become more comfortable with each other.

Long-distance surrogacies are common, and American Surrogacy is prepared to give you the support you need throughout this process. To learn more about how our surrogacy process works and what your long-distance surrogacy may look like, please call us today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

5 Facts You Need to Know for PCOS Awareness Month

When it comes to women who are dealing with infertility, some of them may have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), one of the most common ovulatory disorders. Because complications associated with the disorder can make it difficult for women to naturally conceive and carry a pregnancy to term, some women with this disorder may choose to pursue surrogacy instead.

September is PCOS Awareness Month and, at American Surrogacy, we recognize and understand the struggles that many women with this disorder experience — especially when they’re trying to have children. For those that choose to pursue surrogacy as a means to have a family, our surrogacy specialists will always offer you the support and counsel you need as you cope with this medical condition and the demands of the surrogacy process.

Even if you’re still considering surrogacy as a result of infertility struggles from PCOS, our surrogacy specialists are always available to answer any questions you have. We know that surrogacy may not be the answer for everyone, but we are here to help you make that decision from a place of knowledge and understanding.

In honor of PCOS Awareness Month, we’ve gathered some important facts everyone should know about this disorder:

1. Roughly 5 million women in the U.S. are affected by PCOS.

The disease affects five to 10 percent of women of childbearing age in the United States. Because it’s so common a disorder, it’s also the leading cause of female infertility.

2. PCOS affects fertility because of an imbalance in reproductive hormones.

In PCOS, an imbalance of hormones may cause eggs to not develop properly or not be released during ovulation as they should be. This is normally why it can be difficult for women with PCOS to naturally conceive and carry a baby to term. One of the most common symptoms of PCOS is an irregular period, which makes natural conception difficult. Despite the disorder’s name, not all women with PCOS will develop cysts; the symptoms of PCOS will vary from woman to woman.

3. PCOS does not mean a woman cannot get pregnant.

While PCOS does affect fertility hormones, the disorder does not always render a woman infertile. PCOS is one of the most treatable causes of female infertility, and your doctor can talk to you about ways to improve your ovulation and increase your chance of getting pregnant. PCOS does increase a woman’s chance of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and C-section during pregnancy.

However, some women with PCOS also deal with related and unrelated health complications that would prevent them from carrying a baby to term. These women may turn to surrogacy instead of carrying a baby on their own.

4. PCOS can increase the rate of developing other health problems.

Unfortunately, women who have PCOS are also at an increased risk of developing:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Unhealthy cholesterol
  • Sleep apnea
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Endometrial cancer

Because of these risks, it’s important that women with PCOS monitor their condition closely and work constantly with their doctor to preserve their health.

5. PCOS diagnosis can be tricky.

Because the symptoms of PCOS can vary widely for each woman, proper diagnosis of the condition is not always easy. In fact, less than 50 percent of women with PCOS are properly diagnosed. Without present cysts or obvious ovulation and hormone disruptions, many women think their symptoms are just intense side effects of their menstrual cycle. However, if you feel that something isn’t right when it comes to PCOS-like symptoms, talk to your doctor, who can further investigate if you have the disorder. As with any medical condition, the importance of being proactive cannot be understated.

PCOS can be a difficult fertility disorder to deal with, but remember that there are many women with PCOS who have successfully created a family one way or another. To learn more about your family-building options with American Surrogacy, please give our surrogacy specialists a call today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

50 Acronyms You Need to Know for the Surrogacy Process

When you begin the surrogacy process, there’s a lot of learning to be done. Not only will you need to learn all about how surrogacy works and how each professional will help you complete your surrogacy, but you may find that these professionals and any support groups you become a part of toss around acronyms that you’ve never heard of.

The medical surrogacy process can be complicated, with long medical terms that don’t roll off the tongue quite as easily as some might hope. But, if you don’t know the shorthand for these terms, you might become confused.

To help you out, we’ve defined some of the more common surrogacy terms that you need to know, whether you’re an intended parent or prospective surrogate.

1. RE = Reproductive Endocrinologist

A reproductive endocrinologist is the fertility specialist who assists intended parents through their infertility struggles. This will likely be one of the first professionals intended parents interact with. After they decide to pursue surrogacy, a reproductive endocrinologist will work with the intended parents and the surrogate to coordinate the embryo creation and transfer process.

2. OB = Obstetrician; OB/GYN = Obstetrician/Gynecologist

After a healthy pregnancy is confirmed by the reproductive endocrinologist, the OB/GYN is the professional who will work with the surrogate throughout her pregnancy to make sure she and the unborn baby are healthy.

3. ART = Assisted Reproductive Technology

Assisted reproductive technology is the vast term that encompasses all methods of assisted reproduction, including surrogacy, in-vitro fertilization, gamete donation and more.

4. IVF = In Vitro Fertilization

IVF refers to the ART technique of retrieving mature eggs and sperm and then fertilizing embryos in a lab.

5. AI = Artificial Insemination

This is the process of injecting semen into the vagina or uterus through a method other than sexual intercourse. While not used in gestational surrogacies, some traditional surrogates do complete at-home inseminations (AHI) in this manner.

6. IP(s) = Intended Parent(s)

The intended parents are the people who are trying to have a biologically related child through surrogacy. More specific terms include:

7. IF(s) = Intended Father(s)
8. IM(s) = Intended Mother(s)
9. PIF = Potential Intended Father
10. PIM = Potential Intended Mother
11. PIP = Potential Intended Parent
 12. TS = Traditional Surrogate

A traditional surrogate is a woman who is genetically related to the child that she carries, usually through donating her eggs as part of the IVF process.

13. GC = Gestational Carrier

A gestational carrier (or gestational surrogate) is a woman who carries the intended parents’ child. She is not genetically related to the baby.

14. BCP = Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills are sometimes used in surrogacy when a fresh embryo is created. A surrogate will take the pills to coordinate with the intended mother’s or egg donor’s cycle before transfer.

15. E2 = Estradiol

Estradiol is an estrogen medication that surrogates take to prepare for the embryo transfer, mainly to help grow the lining of the uterus.

16. LH = Luteinizing Hormone

Luteinizing hormone, also known as follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), is closely monitored during the surrogacy process. It’s a hormone that’s secreted by the pituitary gland to stimulate the growth of the ovarian follicle in the development of eggs and control the menstrual cycle.

17. P4 = Progesterone

Progesterone is a hormone that maintains pregnancy by preparing a woman’s body and regulating the monthly menstrual cycle. Surrogates take progesterone supplements to prepare the uterine lining.

18. PIO = Progesterone in Oil

This is another progesterone supplement.

19. SubQ = Subcutaneous Injections

These injections are the common way that pregnancy and preparation hormones are administered to prospective surrogates and women who have their eggs retrieved.

20. HSC = Hysteroscopy

A hysteroscopy is a procedure that allows a doctor to look closely at a woman’s uterine lining. It can be used to diagnose infertility or diagnose any difficulty in a surrogate’s ability to successfully carry a baby.

21. CM = Cervical Mucus

Cervical mucus is a good representation of a surrogate’s fertility and usually has to reach a certain level before an embryo transfer can occur.

22. ENDO = Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus instead. In many cases, those with endometriosis struggle with fertility problems. It may even be the reason that they turn to surrogacy.

23. ET = Embryo Transfer

The embryo transfer is completed by the fertility clinic once a surrogate’s body is deemed ready to accept an embryo.

24. FET = Frozen Embryo Transfer

Rather than a fresh embryo transfer, this kind of transfer involves a frozen embryo, usually left over from intended parents’ previous IVF treatments.

25. DE = Donor Egg

A donor egg is used to create an embryo for an intended parent who may be a single man, a same-sex male couple or an intended mother whose eggs are not viable for healthy embryos.

26. ED = Egg Donor/Donation

This is an acronym used when a surrogacy process includes an egg donation.

27. LMP = Last Menstrual Period

A surrogate must be aware of her LMP, which is the last time her period started, so that fertility specialists can know when she is most fertile and able to accept a transferred embryo. Usually, a fertility clinic tracks this closely.

28. CD = Cycle Day

A cycle day is the first day of a woman’s menstrual cycle. The first day of her period is Day 1.

29. 2WW = 2 Week Wait

The two-week wait refers to the time between when an embryo is transferred into the surrogate’s uterus and when she can be tested for a positive pregnancy.

30. DP3DT = Days Post 3-Day Transfer

Many fertility clinics will either transfer an embryo three days after fertilization or five days after fertilization, depending on how the embryo is developing. Surrogates use this term to mark the days after a transfer is complete.

31. DP5DT = Days Post 5-Day Transfer

This is another acronym to mark days after a transfer is completed.

32. DPT = Day Post Transfer

This is a more general acronym for post-transfer day tracking.

33. PET = Post-Embryo Transfer

Again, this is another term for the time period after a transfer is complete.

34. BETA = Blood Test for Pregnancy

BETA hCG levels are the chemical and blood levels that determine if a surrogate is pregnant. Surrogates and fertility clinics will track their BETA levels; while an increasing BETA level means a surrogate is pregnant, a declining BETA level means a surrogate is not pregnant.

35. hCG/HCG = Human Chorionic Gonadotropin

HCG is the hormone tested for during a blood test for pregnancy (BETA), as it’s the hormone created by the placenta during pregnancy.

36. HPT = Home Pregnancy Test

While fertility clinics and intended parents prefer the absoluteness of a blood pregnancy test completed at the clinic, some surrogates take home pregnancy tests in the days leading up to their BETA to see if their positive pregnancy read gets stronger.

37. POAS = Pee on a Stick

This is another acronym for a home pregnancy test.

38. BFN = Big Fat Negative

This is a term used more by surrogates than by a fertility clinic, as it’s an acronym for a negative pregnancy test.

39. BFP = Big Fat Positive

On the other hand, a BFP is a positive pregnancy test.

40. PG = Pregnant

This is an acronym surrogates use to describe where they are at in their surrogacy journey, either after they complete a pregnancy test or otherwise.

41. US or U/S = Ultrasound

Ultrasounds are completed at various stages in the surrogacy process to make sure a baby is developing correctly.

42. CB = Cycle Buddy

A cycle buddy is the woman or women that surrogates share their infertility treatment cycle with. Surrogates find cycle buddies either through their fertility clinics or surrogate support groups and support each other through all stages of their surrogacy process.

43. CVS = Chorionic Villus Sampling

This sampling is a prenatal test conducted to diagnose chromosomal abnormalities, like Down syndrome and other genetic disorders. Fertility clinics will usually test several embryos with this process before determining which one they will transfer to a surrogate’s uterus.

44. M/C = Miscarriage

Sometimes, an embryo that has implanted does not survive to full term. A miscarriage usually occurs within the first trimester, and the embryo will either be expelled naturally or through a surgical procedure.

45. D&C = Dilation and Curettage

A D&C is a medical procedure used to remove tissue from the inside of the uterus. It’s commonly used as an abortion procedure when an embryo implants in a surrogate’s uterus but fails to lead to a viable pregnancy. Before a new embryo can be transferred, the old embryo must be removed through this minor surgical process. A D&C can also be used to diagnose and treat certain uterine conditions.

46. GD = Gestational Diabetes

A surrogate (or any other pregnant woman) may develop gestational diabetes while she is pregnant. This doesn’t mean she will have diabetes after she gives birth, but it is a condition that must be monitored closely for her and the baby’s health.

47. SCH = Subchorionic Hemorrhage

This is a hematoma that develops in about 25 percent of pregnant women. While a subchorionic hemorrhage usually regresses, it’s important that surrogates who experience any kind of unusual vaginal bleeding while pregnant contact their doctor.

48. EDD = Estimated Due Date

This is when a surrogate is expected to give birth, although she may be induced or scheduled for a C-section later on.

49. PBO = Pre-Birth Order

A pre-birth order is a legal document that protects the rights of the intended parents. It establishes their parental rights before the baby is born, usually allowing for them to have their name on their baby’s birth certificate upon delivery.

50. VBAC = Vaginal Delivery After C-Section

When women who have previously had a C-section are able to deliver their next baby vaginally, this is called a “VBAC.” The women’s OBGYN will help determine if this is a possibility for her.

These are just a few of the important surrogacy acronyms you need to know if you’re interested in the surrogacy process. The better you understand the terms and different steps of the surrogacy journey, the easier it will be for you. When you work with American Surrogacy, your surrogacy specialist will help explain these different processes to you and make sure you understand all the necessary terms to have a successful surrogacy. To learn more today, please give us a call at 1-800-875-2229.

For a more extensive list of surrogacy acronyms, check out Adoption.net and All Things Surrogacy.

Taking Surrogate Maternity Pictures — What to Know

When parents are expecting a baby, many wish to document their parenthood journey with maternity photos. Just because you are expecting a baby via surrogate doesn’t mean that you can’t do the same, although the process for surrogate maternity pictures may require greater discussion and more creativity that it would for a mother carrying her own child.

If you’re curious about documenting your parenthood journey and the surrogacy process, it’s important that this is a decision made together with your surrogate. Your surrogacy specialist at American Surrogacy can also help you figure out whether surrogate maternity pictures are right for your surrogacy and, if so, help you move forward with that process.

If You’re Considering Surrogacy Maternity Photos

While it’s natural to want to document the time when your unborn baby is developing, you may not know how to approach maternity photos when another woman is carrying your child. Ultimately, whether or not you should consider surrogate maternity pictures will depend upon your relationship with the surrogate. Because this involves her as much as you, she’ll need to be comfortable with this idea before moving forward with it. If she is uncomfortable with it, you should not pressure or force her.

Sometimes, surrogate maternity pictures can be discussed early on during the contract phase of your surrogacy. Other times, intended parents may not think about maternity photos until later in the surrogacy process — and may not be sure how to bring the topic up with their surrogate. Your surrogacy specialist can help you mediate this conversation and offer suggestions to make both parties feel comfortable. Most surrogates will be thrilled to help you document this part of your parenthood journey, although they may have different preferences for how they want to be shown in these photographs. When you have an open conversation about what you each desire in surrogate maternity pictures, you’ll be able to come to a photo style that makes both of you happy. These photos will be something you’ll get to treasure forever.

Ideas for Surrogacy Maternity Photos

So, what are some different styles of surrogate maternity pictures, and which are right for you?

Like other maternity photos, surrogacy maternity photos are only limited by your imagination. As mentioned before, your surrogate’s interest in being a part of these photos will also play a role in how your photographer stages these memories.

Some surrogates would rather have maternity photos focus on what she thinks is most important — the baby. Instead of showing herself in the photo, she may be most comfortable with a photo that highlights her pregnant belly. There are many beautiful ways of doing this:

Other surrogates may be more excited to be a focal point in your surrogate maternity pictures — and invite you to be a part of them as well. Your photographer can find a creative way to incorporate you all into maternity photos for a sentimental snapshot that you both will cherish.

Check out some of these ideas:

These are just a few of the ideas available to you if you’re considering taking maternity photos with your surrogate. If you and your surrogate decide to take maternity photos, make sure you both are included in conversations with the photographer about what you prefer. A surrogacy is a partnership every step of the way, and surrogate maternity pictures are no different!

A Note for Surrogates

If you’re a surrogate, remember that you are just as important a part of the surrogacy process as the intended parents — which means you should always have a say in any maternity photo plans that are made. You are never required to do anything you’re uncomfortable with, so if you feel like you are being pressured to participate in a photography session, let your surrogacy specialist know.

On the other hand, if your intended parents have not mentioned surrogate maternity pictures and it’s something that you’re interested in, take the same respectful approach that intended parents might take with you. Evaluate your relationship and, if you’re comfortable doing so, suggest the idea in a light-hearted and no-obligation way. Just like you, they have a right to say “no” if maternity photos with you aren’t something they’re interested in. Even if they do turn your offer down, you can still enlist a photographer on your own to document this important moment in your life.

If you ever have questions about surrogate maternity pictures (whether you’re a surrogate or an intended parent), American Surrogacy encourages you to speak with your surrogacy specialist. She can provide suggestions on not only how to bring this topic up but how to make the photography session a great memory for all involved.

3 Things to Do With Breastmilk as a Surrogate

After you give birth to a baby as a surrogate, you will likely be dealing with several side effects of your pregnancy and childbirth journey. One of these is the production of breastmilk. While you may have utilized your breastmilk to feed your own children after they were born, knowing how to manage your breastmilk in a surrogate pregnancy can be complicated.

The decision of what to do with your breastmilk will be made long before the medical processes even begin. In fact, it will be discussed early on in your surrogacy contract stage, when you and the intended parents will discuss what preferences they have (if any) in regards to your breastmilk.

As with every other part of your surrogacy journey, you will have a say in this part of the process. Your surrogacy specialist will also be available to counsel you through your options, of which there are generally three:

1. Pump Milk for the Intended Parents

Some intended parents may look to take advantage of the many health benefits that breastmilk provides and ask you to pump your breastmilk for them. Then, they will use the milk to either feed their baby through bottles or in combination with their own breastmilk through a supplemental nursing system.

You will not be required to pump milk for intended parents unless you are comfortable doing so. You will always be compensated properly for taking these additional steps to help the intended parents in the early stages of the baby’s life. If you decide to do this, your surrogacy specialist and your doctor will make sure you understand how this process will work.

2. Donate Your Breastmilk

Even if your intended parents do not wish to utilize your breastmilk, there are many other families looking for donated breastmilk to supplement their baby’s feeding. Organizations like the National Milk Bank and the Human Milk Banking Association of North America make it easy for you to donate and store your milk to help those in need, especially for those families with sick or premature infants in the hospital. To donate breastmilk, you’ll need to commit to donating a minimum of 200 ounces after undergoing a screening process and getting approval from your doctor.

This is a personal decision to make, as breastfeeding does require a lot of time and effort. But, for many surrogates, donating their breastmilk is a great way to continue the altruistic giving process they started during their surrogacy.

3. Stop Your Lactation

Breastfeeding and pumping is not right for everyone — and that includes surrogates. If you don’t wish to pump your milk for someone else, that’s completely your right. Instead, you can take medical steps to dry up your milk supply after the baby has been born.

The best way to dry up your milk supply is by speaking to your OB/GYN, who can give you professional advice on accomplishing this. The process may include the age-old cabbage leaf compresses, additional drugs and more. Before taking steps to dry up your milk, though, make sure you talk to your doctor to ensure that you’re doing it safely. Improper methods can lead to painful mastitis and plugged ducts.

If you’re not sure what you will do with your breastmilk after you give birth, talk in detail with your doctor to learn more about your options. If you wish to pump your breastmilk for the intended parents, your surrogacy specialist at American Surrogacy will help ensure you receive the proper compensation and your rights are protected throughout this process.

Remember, deciding to pump breastmilk or not is a very personal decision — and one that’s entirely up to you. No matter what you decide, you can still be eligible for the surrogacy process.

How You’ll Stay in Contact with International Intended Parents

When you become a surrogate in the U.S., you will have the option of carrying a baby for an international couple. Many of these intended parents live in countries where surrogacy is illegal or highly restricted, and working with an American surrogate may be the only way they can have a biological child of their own.

American Surrogacy is proud to help international intended parents create their families and, when you become a surrogate through our program, you will have the option to be matched with these international parents. As always, the matching process is mutual, so you do not have to work with an intended parent unless you’re comfortable doing so.

If you’re unfamiliar with how international surrogacy works, you may be unsure of how you’ll be able to work with intended parents who live in another country. After all, how do you stay in contact with intended parents who may live thousands of miles away?

Your surrogacy specialist will work with you throughout the surrogacy process to mediate contact and make your communication with the intended parents as easy as possible. But, with the advance of technology, staying in touch with international intended parents is not as difficult as it may seem. We’ve outlined below some ways surrogates communicate with these kinds of intended parents:

1. Email and Text Communication

In many ways, an international surrogacy is not that different from a long-distance surrogacy within the United States. In cases where surrogates and intended parents live in different time zones, email and texts are generally the best ways of communicating. It’s quick and convenient; intended parents and surrogates can respond whenever is best for them, and lots of information can be shared.

Many surrogates choose to email their intended parents after every doctor’s appointment that the parents cannot make it to, even attaching sonograms photos if possible.

2. Scheduled Skype and Facetime Conversations

While time zones may make impromptu phone calls difficult, many surrogates and international intended parents set up conversations in advance and use an internet-based service to speak with each other. As long as you discover a time that works best for both of you (for example, a morning for you and an evening one for them), speaking to each other will not be as difficult as you may think. The intended parents will also pay for any expenses incurred for these international conversations.

3. In-Person Visits

Depending on where the intended parents live and what their financial situation is like, you may expect to see them in-person more often than you think. All intended parents are required to travel to the U.S. two times: for the embryo transfer process and for the birth of the baby. However, it’s not uncommon for intended parents to make an extra trip or two for doctor’s appointments and to meet you early on in the process, before the embryo transfer takes place. Like domestic intended parents, international intended parents are excited at the chance to get to know you and will take additional steps to make that happen.

Remember, as a surrogate for intended parents, you will not be required to travel outside of the United States. However, many surrogates and intended parents develop close friendships, and some intended parents even offer surrogates the chance to explore their country with a trip early in the pregnancy or shortly after. You and the intended parents will communicate to determine which in-persons visits (and where) will work for the both of you. Your surrogacy specialist will always be there to help mediate.

When surrogates are curious about contact with international intended parents, one of the first questions they usually ask is, “What about the language barrier?” While there are certainly intended parents who speak a different language, many of them actually have a decent grasp of English or speak the language fluidly, thanks to a culture of multilingualism in their home country. In many cases, surrogates and intended parents can easily communicate and even share their culture with each other without the assistance of a translator. However, if you are matched with an intended parent who does not speak English, American Surrogacy will happily provide you with a translator to make this communication process possible.

The specialists at American Surrogacy are always available to answer any questions you have about communication in international surrogacy, the international surrogacy process and the surrogacy process in general. Please feel free to contact us today to learn more.