What is Colostrum, and Should I Consider it for My Baby Born via Surrogacy?

When you hire a surrogate to carry your baby, there are a lot of decisions you’ll have to make. But, have you given thought to breastfeeding once your child is born?

It may surprise you to know that many intended mothers (and adoptive mothers) are able to breastfeed their children after birth, even though they weren’t pregnant themselves. The decision of whether or not to breastfeed — or whether or not your surrogate pumps for your baby — will always be up to your preferences.

Whether you’re considering breastfeeding your child, or you are interested in having your gestational carrier pump breastmilk for you, there’s an important thing you should know about first: colostrum. It may very well make a difference in what path you eventually choose.

For this year’s National Breastfeeding Month, find some basic information below about this medical marvel.

Remember: The information presented in this article is not intended to be and should not be taken as medical advice. We encourage you to always speak with your doctor for advice on what will be best for your newborn baby.

What is Colostrum, and Why is it so Special?

Colostrum is a special kind of breastmilk that is only produced right after a woman gives birth. It’s a sticky, yellow fluid that has everything a baby needs to transition to life outside the womb. All infants can benefit from colostrum, but studies have shown that colostrum has an immense benefit for preterm babies.

So, what are the advantages of colostrum?

  • It contains antibodies and white blood cells that help a baby build its immune system.
  • It creates a tough coating on a baby’s stomach and intestines to protect from germs.
  • It acts as a laxative to help a baby pass its first poop.
  • It helps prevent jaundice.
  • It provides the right nutrients to help the brain, eyes and heart grow.
  • It’s an easy first food for babies to digest, containing high levels of protein, salts, fats and vitamins.

Colostrum is usually produced within the first few days of birth. Women typically stop producing colostrum about two to five days after delivery. Then, “transitional milk” (a mixture of colostrum and more mature milk) comes in. By this time, a baby’s stomach will be ready to digest larger amounts of more mature milk.

Should Your Surrogate Pump Her Colostrum for Your Baby?

Because of colostrum’s benefits, many new mothers who don’t plan to breastfeed extensively still ensure their baby receives colostrum directly after birth.

But, if you’re having a child via surrogacy, getting colostrum to your baby isn’t as simple as it is in a traditional birth. Even if you plan to induce lactation to feed your baby, you will not produce colostrum (which is related to the production of human placental lactogen). If you want your baby to receive the benefits of colostrum, you will need to have your surrogate pump after birth.

Asking your gestational carrier to pump breastmilk for you is not a question to bring up for the first time in the delivery room. It should be a conversation that you have long before she delivers — possibly even during the drafting of your surrogacy contract. It’s important to iron out the details, such as how long she will pump, how the milk will be delivered to your baby, and whether she’ll receive any extra compensation for doing so. Remember: Pumping breastmilk is a big commitment, so your surrogate needs to be actively involved in this decision.

If you decide to have your surrogate provide colostrum to your baby after birth, you’ll need to talk to your surrogate about the details of this experience, as part of your overall hospital plan. Will your surrogate need to pump directly after delivery? Will you have her breastfeed your child instead? Your surrogacy specialist can also help mediate this conversation.

Remember: You are in Charge of Your Breastmilk Preferences

When you’re an intended parent, you always get to decide what the best medical decisions for your child are. If you want to induce lactation and feed them yourself, great! If you choose to bottle-feed instead, that’s okay, too! It’s all up to what your doctor recommends and what will work best for your own schedule.

No matter what you decide, you are still a good parent. Unfortunately, there is a lot of debate out there about breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding, but one is not inherently better than the other. As long as you do your research and talk to your surrogate about your plans for breastfeeding colostrum and mature milk, you will be able to make the decision that is right for your family.

Want to learn more about how breastfeeding works with surrogacy? Talk to our surrogacy specialists today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) or contact us online.

Getting Your Newborn Home After Their Birth via Surrogacy

It’s more common than not that intended parents are matched with an out-of-state surrogate. Sometimes, it’s legally necessary; the intended parents may live in a state that is not particularly surrogacy-friendly. In other cases, it’s simply because the best surrogate for their goals and preferences happened to live in a different state.

Many of the aspects of a long-distance surrogacy are easily managed with a bit of organization and professional guidance. But, there is another important thing to think about, and it comes after the surrogacy process is complete: how to bring your new baby home across state lines.

When you have a brand-new baby, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, especially if this is your first go at being a parent. Getting ready to bring your baby home requires all kinds of preparations, but you may be unsure of how to do this safely.

Don’t worry: American Surrogacy is here to help. Below, find out your options for bringing home your little one after birth. Don’t hesitate to contact your surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) for more guidance on this matter.

The Big Debate: Flying vs. Driving

When it comes to bringing a baby home that was born out of state, there is often one question: Should I fly home on a plane or drive home instead?

First, know this: Which path you take should always depend upon your pediatrician’s recommendation. Your baby’s health will play a crucial role in this decision, and only your doctor will know what is best for your family. Always stay in close contact with them leading up to and after your carrier’s delivery.

In general, here are some things you should know about each option:

Putting a Newborn on an Airplane

Taking a newborn baby on a plan comes with certain pros and cons. You’ll need to consider these before booking your flights.

First, the advantages:

  • Shorter travel time: When you’re looking at a 12-hour drive or a couple-hour flight, choosing to fly may take a lot of stress off of you as intended parents. It’s likely that you want to get home as soon as possible, and a plane ride is often the way to best do so.
  • More travel options: There is always a degree of uncertainty when a baby is born. The baby may come early, or they may overstay their welcome in your surrogate’s womb. If you rely on a car to get you there, you may miss your baby’s birth! A plane, on the other hand, offers more frequent options to leave (and return) whenever you need to. This can give you a bit more leeway when bringing your little one back home.

But, there are also some disadvantages, too:

  • Potential for more germ exposure: Newborn babies are vulnerable, and a plane’s atmosphere can be the worst place for an underdeveloped immune system. If you choose to take your infant on a plane, you must be comfortable with the exposure to viruses and bacteria that other travelers are carrying.
  • Flight changes can be expensive: While flying gives you more opportunity to update your travel plans if necessary, these changes can be expensive. For this reason, many intended parents buy one-way tickets on airlines with minimal change charges (check out Southwest) and wait to buy their return ticket until they are more aware of their baby’s situation.

If you think flying might be the right option for you, always speak with your baby’s doctor. Certain airlines will require a doctor’s note for a baby under a certain age to travel. Make sure to always research tips to make your return journey as stress-free as possible.

Taking a Road Trip with a Newborn

Another way you can return home with your baby is by driving them. Whether or not this is an option for your family will depend upon your personal situation.

So, why do intended parents choose to drive home with their newborn?

  • Cost savings for shorter distances: In some cases, driving to and from a surrogate’s state is much cheaper for intended parents than flying. In many cases, if intended parents have a drive of a day or less, they will save substantial money in comparison to buying flights on short notice, as baby delivery can sometimes necessitate.
  • Safer immuno-environment: When you travel with a newborn in a car, you are in more control over the bacteria and viruses exposed to them than if you were on a plane. You can take steps to keep your car as clean as possible, and you may be more comfortable knowing that your son or daughter will only come in contact with you on this journey.
  • More control over journey: When you drive, you are in charge of your journey. This includes how frequently and where you stop, as well as deciding what is best for your child. You aren’t at the mercy of an airline; if you need more time to get home, or if you and your child need a break on the way home, you can always take it.

But, keep in mind these disadvantages before you strap in your newborn to their car seat:

  • Fatigue on long journeys: If you are taking a long road trip, make sure you have a partner to help you out. Driving long hours is exhausting for anyone but especially so for a new parent caring for a brand-new baby.
  • Cleanliness of stops along the way: You’ll need to stop at rest stations along the way to stay safe. If you are taking a longer journey, you may even spend the night at a hotel. Will your hotel be clean enough for your newborn baby? Are you prepared to haul all of your baby supplies across state lines and in and out of your hotel rooms?
  • Distance from a doctor or hospital: Even if your newborn baby is 100 percent healthy at birth, it’s normal to be worried about their health in the weeks after they are born. When you take an extended road trip after their birth, there will be times that you are a distance away from any doctor or hospital. While many intended parents bring their children home safely via car, this is an important consideration not to overlook.

Remember, the best person to talk to about returning home will always be your baby’s doctor. They are likely the one who will make the ultimate decision in which option is right for you.

Your surrogacy specialist will always be there to support you. To learn more about this topic or about surrogacy in general, please contact our team at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

Determining Your Future Relationship with Your Surro-Baby

When you’re thinking about becoming a surrogate, there are a lot of resources out there about creating a positive, lasting relationship with your intended parents — and that’s important! But, there may be another relationship you haven’t thought a lot about.

If you haven’t asked yourself this question yet, do so now: What kind of future relationship do I want to have with the child that I carry?

Being a child’s gestational carrier is a decision that will impact you and the child forever. It’s not something you can just ignore or pretend didn’t happen, and you shouldn’t! It’s something that you should celebrate for years to come. For many gestational carriers, that involves having a personal relationship with the child they give birth to.

If you’re like most gestational carriers, you don’t have any experience with this kind of relationship. Don’t worry — American Surrogacy is here to help. Our surrogacy specialists can answer any question you may have about your future surrogacy relationship to help you be as prepared as possible before the baby is born.

To start, there are four important questions you’ll need to ask yourself:

1. What Kind of Role Do I Want to Serve in My Surro-Baby’s Life?

When it comes to the role that gestational carriers play in the lives of children they give birth to, the options are endless. Some surrogates and intended parents mutually end their relationship after the baby is delivered, while some stay in close contact for years to come, treating each other as extended family.

As a surrogate, you have a big decision to make. You will need to decide what kind of role you want to play in your surro-baby’s life. And, you’ll need to decide this long before the baby is even born.

Perhaps you want to be the cool aunt-like figure. Maybe you want to be an older mentor. Or, you may just want to be available to answer whatever questions the child may have as they grow up. Whatever you want, determining your role will always be up to you!

2. What About My Relationship with the Intended Parents?

It’s important to remember that if you want to have a relationship with the child you give birth to, you will also need to be comfortable with a relationship with their parents, too. After all, a small child can’t exactly manage a relationship on their own!

When you’re thinking about your future relationship with your surro-baby, take into account the relationship you have now and plan to have in the future with your intended parents. Not every surrogacy contract will detail this relationship ahead of time, but it’s a good thing to talk about with your intended parents early on in your journey. Of course, relationships ebb and flow over time, but setting up basic expectations (in-person visits, texts, emails, pictures, etc.) can help make the transition from surrogacy partners to lifelong friends a little easier.

Your intended parents may also have a preference for the future relationship their child has with you. You will need to respect those wishes, which is why being aware of them earlier rather than later can be so helpful.

3. How Will Distance and Time Play Into Things?

As you likely know, any long-term relationship requires a lot of work and commitment. If you and your intended parents live far apart, you will need to put in extra effort to maintain that relationship throughout the child’s upbringing, if you want to be a part of their life.

Keep in mind that life situations can change. You or the intended parents may move, or certain circumstances may occur that make it difficult for your relationship to continue. When going into a post-surrogacy relationship, know that you can’t predict the future, but you can plan for it. Think about how you will maintain a relationship when things get tough. You may even want to write a letter to your surro-baby when they are old enough to read it — just in case you can’t have the relationship you originally aspire for.

Remember that it’s completely normal for relationships to change over time, and it’s important to expect that in your surrogacy relationship, as well.

4. How Do I Decide What’s Right for Me?

It can be overwhelming to think so far in the future about a relationship that may or may not be. After all, it will often be up to the child born via surrogacy if they want to maintain a relationship with the woman who gave birth to them. Trying to decide what kind of relationship you want with them years in advance can be nerve-wracking.

Like with all relationships, you can’t predict the future this relationship. You can only hope. To help you decide what kind of relationship you want with this child, talk at length with your surrogacy specialist. They can provide examples of other relationships to help you figure out what is right for you. Of course, include the intended parents in your conversation, as well. You can all craft the perfect relationship goals together and figure out what is best for your surrogacy partnership.

What Happens if My Baby is Born Prematurely During Surrogacy?

It’s a situation that no intended parent or gestational carrier wants to be in: a premature delivery. However, like any other person experiencing a traditional pregnancy, both parties need to be fully prepared for this situation, should it occur during their gestational pregnancy.

If you’re an intended parent, you probably don’t want to think about your child being born prematurely. Surrogacy comes with enough unknowns as it is; when you add in the aspect of premature labor, it can become even more complicated.

So, what can you expect if your baby is born prematurely?

First, know this: Your surrogacy specialist at American Surrogacy will be there to support you every step of the way. They will be prepared to coordinate with all the necessary medical professionals and insurance providers during this process, allowing you and your gestational carrier to focus on what really matters — getting your baby healthy.

Our surrogacy specialists are always available to answer your questions about the medical process of surrogacy when you call our agency at 1-800-875-2229(BABY). In the meantime, you can find out more about premature births in surrogacy below.

What are the Risk Factors for Premature Delivery?

Admittedly, surrogacy can be a complicated family-building process on its own — but there is also evidence that in vitro fertilization can increase the chance that your child will be born prematurely. Therefore, surrogacy professionals take many steps to ensure that a gestational carrier is 100 percent prepared (medically and emotionally) to carry a child before she is approved for the surrogacy process. As part of this process, these medical screenings will test for risk factors for premature labor, such as:

  • Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy – American Surrogacy requires all surrogates to have a healthy BMI between 19 and 31.
  • Multiple previous miscarriages or abortions – Surrogates must have a proven track record of healthy pregnancies free from complications to work with American Surrogacy.
  • Fewer than six months between pregnancies – Our agency requires gestational carriers to wait 12 months after their last pregnancy before starting surrogacy.
  • Smoking cigarettes or using illicit drugs – Surrogates with American Surrogacy are prohibited from these activities before or during their surrogacy.
  • Chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes – All surrogates must undergo an extensive medical examination to prove they are healthy enough to carry a gestational pregnancy.

Another common risk factor for premature labor is carrying multiples, which is why medical professionals will advise against transferring more than one embryo during a single transfer. However, many women who experience premature delivery have no previously known risk factors. That’s why American Surrogacy encourages all its gestational carriers to follow certain guidelines for a healthy pregnancy — guidelines that will likely be addressed in your surrogacy contract.

What if My Surrogate Goes into Preterm Labor?

There are situations in which a gestational carrier seems to have a completely healthy pregnancy, only for her to go into labor prematurely. This can be nerve-wracking for both her and her intended parents, who can feel helpless during this emotional time.

If you live close enough to your gestational carrier, you may decide to travel to her, just in case premature delivery may be needed. If you live far away, it can be tempting to try to find the next flight available and get there when you can. Whatever your situation, you may actually wish to wait until you hear from your carrier’s doctor.

Not all premature labor will result in premature deliveries. In some situations, an obstetrician will be able to prescribe medication to delay the labor as long as possible. Many doctors have a number of weeks they would prefer women hit before giving birth, and your carrier’s doctor may be able to help her keep the baby until that point. She may need to take medication, or she may be required to stay on bedrest for the remainder of her pregnancy. If the latter is the case, your surrogacy contract should detail what expenses will be paid to her as a result of her missing work.

What Will Happen at the Hospital if My Child is Born Premature?

Even with a doctor’s intervention, a gestational carrier may have to deliver a child prematurely — for the child’s safety and for her own safety, too. If you receive a call that your gestational carrier is delivering earlier than planned, you may be frustrated and nervous that things aren’t going according to plan. Remember, your carrier’s doctor is doing the best he or she can to keep your carrier and your baby safe, which sometimes involves premature delivery.

Some doctors may be able to delay a carrier’s labor until intended parents are able to arrive at the hospital. This may not be possible in other situations. Your gestational carrier, her doctor or your surrogacy specialist will keep you up to date on developments. Either way, if you receive the news that your child is being born prematurely, you should likely travel to the carrier’s hospital as soon as possible.

What you will do when you arrive at the hospital will depend upon your surrogate’s medical situation and the hospital’s policies. You may be able to be in the same room during her delivery, whether vaginal or cesarean-section. In other situations, you may not be.

Again, this will all depend upon your carrier’s and your baby’s medical situations, but your baby will likely be placed in the NICU after delivery. There, he or she will receive the medical care they need. Your baby’s doctors will keep you updated on his or her status and allow you to visit your child as soon as possible. You may even be able to stay in a nearby hospital room as you originally planned to during the hospital stay, but this will depend upon hospital policies and available rooms.

As stressful as this time can be, you shouldn’t forget about your gestational carrier. She is likely just as worried as you are about the baby. Take the time to visit with her after labor and ensure she is recovering. Give her the chance to see the baby during her stay, if possible, and keep her updated on your baby’s status after she is discharged.

Every premature delivery situation is different, so these are just some basic words of advice that you can keep in mind if this circumstance occurs with your own surrogacy journey. The best thing you can do in this situation is keep in touch with everyone involved in your surrogacy — your gestational carrier, her obstetrician and your surrogacy specialist. A premature delivery can be a scary experience, but it doesn’t always have to be a negative one.

For more information on how American Surrogacy will support you during your gestational carrier’s pregnancy and delivery process, please contact our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

5 Things to Know About Raising a Donor-Conceived Child

Surrogacy can be a scary enough concept for hopeful intended parents — but, if you are in need of a sperm or egg donation to complete your surrogacy, you may be even more nervous about the path ahead. Raising a child born from surrogacy comes with its own unique challenges, and raising a child born from a gamete donation is no different.

Fortunately, there are many resources available to you if you are considering surrogacy with a donated gamete. Many intended parents have been in your situation, and they are successfully raising children born from a donated gamete in a healthy and positive way. You can, too.

Know that the surrogacy specialists at American Surrogacy can always discuss this situation in more detail with you. We can answer all your questions about surrogacy and donated gametes, as well as help you move forward with the process whenever you are ready. To learn more today, please contact our agency at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

In the meantime, we’ve gathered a few things that every intended parent should know if they are considering surrogacy with a donated gamete.

1. Identified gamete donors promote positive self-identity in children.

One of the first decisions that intended parents considering surrogacy with a donated gamete have to make is whether to use an anonymous or identified donor. Many fertility specialists and surrogacy professionals encourage the use of an identified donor — for many reasons.

Choosing an anonymous sperm or egg donor may seem like the easiest way to go about this process, but intended parents need to consider their child’s future well-being. What will happen when their child has questions as they grow up? How will they answer them? What happens if a medical emergency occurs, and a child does not have their full updated medical history?

If you choose an identified donor, you will have access to medical history and more. An identified donor is always available for contact and information if necessary, as well as to provide answers to your child that you may not have as they develop their identity.

2. You should not keep the gamete donation a secret.

Even if you choose a sperm or egg donor who looks similar to your family, gamete donation should not be a secret. Your child deserves the right to know their full history. Imagine a day where your child might develop a dangerous genetic disease; if they are operating under false assumptions about their genetic heritage, their life could be in danger.

This isn’t even to mention the situations in which children find out about their gamete donor later in life. It can severely impact a child’s self-identity to feel betrayed or lied to by their parents. They will have created a self-identity that may be based on completely false information. Being honest about a sperm or egg donation from the beginning is much more preferable than this circumstance, which can destroy relationships between children and parents.

3. Your child will have questions — and this is completely normal.

Even if you make your child’s surrogacy and gamete donation story an open topic of conversation as they grow up, your child will always have questions. You may not be able to answer all of them. A child goes through normal phases of interest and disinterest about their history as they grow up; it’s all a part of developing their self-identity. Therefore, intended parents need to be ready for the day that these questions about a sperm or egg donor come.

If a child starts asking about their genetic history, it is not a sign that they are looking for their “real parents.” In fact, that’s not it at all. If you have been open and respectful with your child about their genetic history, they will continue to respect and love you. Questions about background are normal for anyone to have; in the case of donor-conceived children, they just have to go to someone else to find the answers. Don’t ever take it as a sign that you aren’t “enough” of a parent for your child.

4. The Donor Sibling Registry can be an invaluable tool.

As your child learns more about their genetic history, they may have questions about extended biological family members. Remember: Your child finding their biological family is not a bad thing. If anything, it’s a positive to gain more family members!

To aid your child in your future search, you could choose to sign your child up in the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) as soon as they are born. That way, your child and your child’s half-siblings and genetic relatives can contact each other to share personal relationships and provide up-to-date family medical information. Signing your child up for this registry in advance will show them your commitment and respect for their personal surrogacy and donor-conceived story.

5. Gamete donation is a lifelong journey for parents and their children.

Finally, keep this in mind if you are considering surrogacy with a donor gamete: Many forms of assisted reproductive technology are a lifelong journey, and surrogacy and gamete donation are no different. While you may think your journey in these processes will be over once your child is born, you will need to make these topics an open conversation and a source of pride as long as your child lives. Respect any decisions they make to seek out biological relatives and support them in that journey. Answer any questions they have and help them find any you can’t answer. You will always be your child’s parent; it will be up to you what kind of parent you choose to be for them.

To learn more about surrogacy with a donated gamete, please contact American Surrogacy today.

5 Ways to Bond With Your Baby Born Via Surrogacy

Those who have built their family in a non-traditional way often have one common question: How can I bond with my baby if I’m not the one who carried him or her?

Here at American Surrogacy, we understand your concern. Society tells us that there is no connection like that between a pregnant woman and her child — but that doesn’t mean you can’t foster the same kind of connection if someone else was the one to give birth to your baby. While it may take a little extra effort, you can feel just as connected as anyone else who built their family in a “traditional” way.

For suggestions on how to forge that connection while your baby is in utero, check out this article. Here, we’ll focus on the steps you can take after you bring your bundle of joy home. All babies need contact, communication and love from their parents after birth. Use these tips to create a meaningful, healthy bond with your baby from the moment they are born.

1. Pay Attention to and Respond to Your Baby’s Needs.

This is the first tip for bonding with a baby for a reason — it’s the cornerstone of being a successful parent. You may be overwhelmed with your new bundle of joy, especially if this is your first experience being a parent, but you will learn quickly. You may not correctly anticipate your baby’s every need at first, but the more you pay close attention to them, the better you will get to know them and understand what they want. This mutual understanding will facilitate your bonding. After all, a baby will bond to the person who responds to their cries, which is why some experts advise that only the baby’s parents tend to their needs during the first couple of months, to help them recognize your role in their life.

2. Take Advantage of Feeding Time.

Along the same note, feeding time is one of the most important times you can address your baby’s needs. Take steps during mealtime to make eye contact, limit distractions and more to help your baby focus solely on you.

Did you know that even intended parents can breastfeed their baby? You can further facilitate this bonding by breastfeeding your child or giving plenty of skin-on-skin contact as you bottle-feed your baby. Talk with your doctor about the possibility of breastfeeding as an intended mother.

3. Don’t Skimp on Affection.

Naturally, you’ll be holding your baby a lot when you bring them home — whether to soothe them, feed them, or simply to marvel at this little wonder. All of this contact will comfort your baby, who will feel closer to you just from hearing your heartbeat.

Don’t be afraid to lay on other kinds of affection at this time, either. You may be worried about spoiling your baby, but that’s not a concern at this age. You cannot give a newborn too much affection, as it encourages the bonding process and helps them confirm you as a parental role.

Consider giving affection by:

  • Stroking their cheek
  • Having a bath together
  • Tickling
  • Hand holding
  • Gentle massages
  • And more — which brings us to our next point

4. Utilize Skin-on-Skin Contact.

Skin-on-skin contact is important for any parent bonding with their child but especially important for intended parents in surrogacy. While a baby will need to have skin-on-skin contact with the surrogate directly after birth to confirm his or her senses, the transfer to the intended parents for skin-on-skin contact is crucial to helping the baby recognize his or her parents.

Skin-on-skin contact is also helpful for improving physiologic stability for mother and baby, increasing maternal attachment behaviors, protecting against the negative effects of maternal-infant separation, and more. So, the research is clear: Don’t be afraid to share this important contact with your baby directly after birth and after you bring them home.

5. Always Talk to Your Baby.

New parents are bound to do this anyway, but the importance of talking to your new baby can’t be overstated. When your baby hears your voice, they are comforted that you are near, and it helps them better recognize your role as their parent.

In addition, talking to your baby helps them develop their own language skills. Children learn a lot from listening so, if you want your baby to start talking back early, don’t be afraid to chat them up to help them absorb information and language.

Bringing home a new baby can be overwhelming for everyone, but especially for parents through surrogacy who are getting their first experience with their little one. Remember, your surrogacy specialist will always be here to help you prepare for this step and offer advice as you adjust to your new life as parents.

To learn more about our agency services, please contact us at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

7 Tips for Explaining Your Child’s Surrogacy Story

Like any child brought to a family in a non-traditional method, children born via surrogacy have a unique background story. If you are their parent, it is your duty to ensure they understand their surrogacy story — and are just as proud of it as you are.

But, how exactly do you explain your child’s story to them as they grow up? The complexities of surrogacy can be difficult for even adults to understand; how do you describe them to a child who doesn’t yet grasp the details of human reproduction?

You’ll be surprised to know that children understand more than you give them credit for. To aid you in this conversation, we’ve provided a few tips below. You can also contact your surrogacy specialist for more guidance in raising a child born via surrogacy.

1. Make it a constant topic of conversation.

The rule of thumb when explaining a child’s non-traditional birth story to them is to make it an available topic of conversation throughout their life. Children grasp different details at different times, and they will have different questions about the process as they grow up. Therefore, talking to your child about their surrogacy story should not be a one-time conversation; it should be a natural, normal topic that they can ask you about whenever it suits their curiosity.

You may think, “But infants won’t understand what I’m saying. Can’t I wait until they are old enough to understand?”

This is about more than your child being able to understand what you are saying. It’s about normalizing the topic of surrogacy from the day you bring them home. That way, when the idea of being born via surrogate “clicks,” it’s not weird or uncomfortable. Instead, it will just be normal to them.

2. Children are more open-minded than you think.

Many parents put off telling children about their surrogacy, adoption or other non-traditional birth until they are older — but this choice can shock children later in life and have negative consequences. Children comprehend more than adults sometime give them credit for. Young children have curious minds and often accept facts at face-value. While they may not seem to “understand” the way you think they should, they will readily accept the information you give them. It will shape their identity in a positive way, rather than coming as a shock later in life that disrupts their personal identity.

3. It’s important to be age-appropriate.

As you explain your child’s surrogacy story to them, remember that what you tell them will typically be relayed back to their peers. What you may be comfortable telling your child may make others uncomfortable. That being said, it’s important to use proper terminology. Make it clear that the woman who carried them is not their mother, and they were not related to them. Younger children may not ask questions when you explain the basics to them, but don’t feel like you have to give them more information than they ask for. Judge the situation to prevent over-explaining and confusing your child.

4. Use available tools.

In order to normalize surrogacy from an early age, you can use books and other media designed specifically to introduce and explain surrogacy to children. These books can be an easier method of introducing the topic than a formal conversation, and they can allow for a more natural question-and-answer format than putting a child on the spot. You can find a list of surrogacy books here.

5. Create a surrogacy memory book.

Some children are visual learners. Therefore, it may be best to create a scrapbook commemorating your surrogacy journey and their birth story. That way, they can visually see the process you are explaining. They can put a face to a name when it comes to their surrogate (if they don’t have a personal relationship with her), and they can see the photos of themselves in a woman’s belly. As a child grows up, they will grow to treasure this book. It can be a great way for your child to visually explain their own birth story to friends and family as part of the celebration of their identity.

6. Consider how you will address any donors involved in their story.

If your child was born via a gamete donation, there is another complex aspect of their surrogacy story — their biological mother or father. While your child will not view their donor parent as a “real” parent, they will naturally be curious about their biological family and medical history. Don’t try to hide this information from them; it will only cause a feeling of betrayal later in life. A child’s donor parent is crucial to their identity as a child born via surrogacy. Before you even utilize a donor gamete, it’s important that you consider the benefits of anonymous vs. identified donors and how you will explain this relationship to your child as they grow up. Remember, your surrogacy specialist can offer guidance and advice for this conversation with your child.

7. Be open, excited and celebratory in your conversations.

Finally, remember that children are intuitive; they pick up on their parents’ emotions. Therefore, when you’re speaking with your child about surrogacy, make sure you express your excitement and pride in their unique birth story. Your child will no doubt feel a little different because of the way they were brought into the world, so make sure they understand that differences are what make the world an exciting place. Emphasize that surrogacy is something to be celebrated, and that you are always there for your child if they have any questions. When you are proud of your surrogacy journey, they will be, too.

Have more questions about how to explain surrogacy to your child born through this method? Don’t hesitate to reach out to your surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

Benefits for Baby: Delayed Cord Clamping and Skin-to-Skin Contact

How a baby is delivered is one of the most important choices a woman can make for her pregnancy. When both a surrogate and an intended parent are involved, these conversations are even more important. You’ll want to make sure the delivery process is one that both parties are comfortable with and does what is best for the baby.

One of the growing trends in modern deliveries is delayed cord clamping, in which the umbilical cord continues to provide blood and nutrients to a baby up to five minutes after he or she is born. But, when skin-to-skin contact between the baby, the surrogate and the intended parents is so important, this choice may initially seem to complicate things a bit.

Whether you are considering delayed cord clamping or want to learn more, you can find some useful information below.

Why Do Parents Choose to Delay Cord Clamping?

In the majority of births, medical professionals cut the umbilical cord shortly after the baby is delivered. This is often done to allow easier access to the baby for immediate cleaning, medical care and other services.

However, there’s a growing awareness about the potential risks of immediate cord clamping — and the benefits of delaying cord clamping.

The umbilical cord connects the baby to the placenta, the vital organ that provides nutrients while the baby is in the womb. When the baby is born, the placenta is still functioning as a blood circulatory organ. This means that about 1/3 of the baby’s blood is still in the placenta at the time of his or her birth. When the umbilical cord is immediately cut, that blood remains in the placenta (which is why people can donate or store placentas after birth). However, when medical professionals choose to delay cord clamping, all of that blood is able to return to the baby.

During this transfer — called “placental transfusion” — the umbilical cord provides the baby oxygen, nutrients, red blood cells, stem cells, immune cells and blood volume. If a cord is cut before these nutrients can be delivered, the baby is at greater risk for iron deficiency during the first six months of their life. This deficiency is in turn linked with neurodevelopmental delay.

To minimize these risks, and to provide the most benefits possible to their baby, more parents today are choosing to delay cord clamping upon the delivery of their child. If you are interested in this process, we encourage you to speak with your OBGYN to learn more.

How Will Delayed Cord Clamping Affect a Surrogacy Birth?

When delayed cord clamping first was studied, it was believed that a baby needed to be held at the height of the placenta in order for blood to continue being pumped and for maximum benefits to be had. Understandably, this put off some parents from this path, as it prevented the important skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby after birth — not to mention the logistical issues of trying to hold a slippery newborn baby at placenta height after birth.

However, a new study reveals that there is no difference in what position a baby is held at during delayed cord clamping. This means that integral skin-to-skin contact is still possible during this process, which many parents should be thrilled to hear.

Skin-to-skin contact can be a bit complicated in surrogacy births. A baby must first confirm their senses by being placed on the surrogate’s skin, and then be physically transferred to the intended parents. One can see where the logistics of traditional delayed cord clamping might make that impossible. But, due to the new knowledge that a baby does not have to be held at placental height, these steps are still achievable in a surrogacy birth.

How Do I Decide Whether This is Right for Me?

As with any medical decision surrounding a baby’s birth, it’s important to speak with the obstetrician and the hospital staff overseeing the delivery. But, when you pursue delayed cord clamping with surrogacy, there is another party that must be involved: your surrogacy partner.

Both intended parents and their surrogate should be on the same page about the decision to delay cord clamping. Although there are very few risks associated with delayed cord clamping, it is still a decision regarding the surrogate’s body — so she should have just as much input as an intended parent does. Proper understanding of the pros and cons of this process is crucial before any decisions should be made.

If you are unsure of how to bring up the idea of delayed cord clamping to your surrogacy partner, remember that our surrogacy specialists can help. Your specialist can mediate this conversation and help you create a surrogacy birth plan that meets the needs of both surrogate and intended parents. Contact us today for more assistance.

Are IVF Babies Healthy When They Grow Up?

Despite its proliferation into the mainstream medical field in recent decades, assisted reproductive technology is still a fairly new way of building a family. Therefore, overreaching studies of the effects of the in vitro fertilization process are still few and far between. Sometimes, intended parents considering surrogacy or another ART procedure ask, “Are IVF babies as healthy as babies conceived naturally?”

A study published last year attempts to answer that question, with results indicating that there is really no difference between the health of babies conceived via IVF and those conceived in a traditional manner.

IVF Fertility recently reported on the study from Israel, which took into account more than 250 adolescents (aged 16 to 20) who were born via IVF between the years of 1982 and 1993. Medical professionals evaluated each person’s medical and mental health as part of their mandatory pre-draft military evaluation. They found some interesting things:

  1. Adolescents conceived through IVF had a lower rate of discharge from military service for health reasons than children conceived traditionally. When they were exempt from service, it was typically for personality disorders and behavior, rather than serious medical issues like those in the control group.
  2. IVF individuals scored slightly higher in cognitive function.
  3. Multiples (like twins and triplets) born through ART methods had significantly lower body mass indexes than ART singletons or the comparison population.
  4. IVF adolescents had significantly more doctor’s appointments than the control group, although it was unclear whether this was due to more medical issues or just having parents who more regularly sought medical attention.

While there were certainly limitations to the study, it seems to indicate that children born via IVF and other ART methods are typically just as healthy as those conceived naturally.

As always, the experience and professionalism of a fertility clinic will play a key role in a safe and healthy embryo transfer, just as prenatal care and medical attention will increase the likelihood of a healthy child born via surrogacy or another ART method. Therefore, it’s important that all intended parents do diligent research to seek out a fertility clinic that’s right for them and can provide the professional services they need.

The surrogacy specialists at American Surrogacy can always provide references to fertility specialists for intended parents like you, based on your personal preferences and family-building goals. To learn more today, please contact us at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).