Caring for Mental Health During COVID-19: Intended Parents

How to Practice Self-Care Throughout Your Surrogacy Journey

Becoming a parent through surrogacy is always an exciting but nerve-wracking experience. There is so much that is out of your control. Your baby’s health and safety are in the hands of a woman you may have only recently met (perhaps only virtually), and that can be a scary thought.

Now, with the global threat of COVID-19, there may feel like even more things to worry about as you try to grow your family through surrogacy. During these new and evolving times of social distancing and lockdowns, everyone’s mental health is feeling a little taxed. But when you’re in the midst of a surrogacy journey you’re even more stressed — and it’s important that you not neglect your emotional wellbeing.

Remembering to take time for self-care will not only help you mentally and physically, it’ll also help you be able to better emotionally support your gestational surrogate. We’re always most able to care for others when we first care for ourselves!

With that in mind, here are some tips to help you find some peace as you progress through the surrogacy process during COVID-19:

Find work-life balance when working from home.

If you’re able to work from home right now, it can be both a blessing and a curse. When you’re already stressed about your surrogacy process, it can be tempting to throw yourself into your work. You might find yourself replying to emails at 1 a.m., forgetting to have lunch when you’re trying to finish that project, or generally forgetting to “turn off” from work.

Try to establish your work routine and stick to it, so you can set your work down at the end of your day and be fully present in your home life. Set boundaries for yourself as to when you’re “at work” and when you’re “at home,” even if both are just in your living room!

Keep yourself healthy.

Not only will focusing on your physical health boost your immune system in the midst of a pandemic, you’ll also feel mentally and emotionally better if you’re taken care of physically.

In addition to the standard COVID-19 precautions of wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing, there are simple things you can do every day to help keep yourself physically healthy:

Don’t forget to exercise.

If you were a gym person before the pandemic, you’ve likely had to adjust how and where you work out. But don’t let your routine slip just because you’re at home!

Now is the perfect time to try something new in an effort to properly socially distance, or to start exercising more regularly in general. There are plenty of ways to stay active while maintaining a safe social distance, like:

  • Going for a walk or run
  • Riding bikes
  • Playing your favorite games in the yard with your family
  • A long play session with the dog
  • Yoga or pilates

Engage in your favorite hobbies.

Some of the things you enjoy the most can help you unwind and take your mind off of worrying about the surrogacy process. Plus, many hobbies can be enjoyed from home while we all social distance.

Now is also a great time to explore some new interests that you’ve always put off, like:

  • Getting more into cooking or baking
  • Reading something new
  • Getting crafty, like learning to knit or sew
  • Hopping into new exercise routines
  • Playing games with friends remotely
  • Trying your hand at music, drawing, writing, etc.
  • Starting up a jigsaw puzzle

It might seem silly, but taking time for hobbies (whether small amusements or lifelong passions) can give your mental health a serious boost.

Set aside time to relax.

Many people are juggling work, kids being home and now a surrogacy journey. It can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day.

But try to make relaxation one of your priorities. Surrogacy is an emotional and often busy experience. Set aside even just a few minutes of every day to relax, slow your heart rate and calm your mind.

Find whatever works for you, but consider:

  • Meditation or prayer
  • Sitting outside and just taking in your surroundings free of distractions
  • Going for a walk
  • Taking a long bath
  • Treating yourself to a quick spa-style pampering session at home
  • Having a slow cup of tea
  • Trying breathing exercises
  • Stretching out any physical tension

Talk it out with your loved ones.

Whether you want to vent out some stress about surrogacy, or you’d like to chat about anything but surrogacy to take your mind off of it, calling up your friends or family can be helpful. If you’re married, continuing to openly communicate and strengthen your relationship will be even more important as you work to grow your family.

Now more than ever, it’s important to find ways to stay close and connected, even while we’re apart. A video chat with someone you haven’t caught up with in a while may be just what you’ve both been needing.

What’s better to calm your worries than hearing words of reassurance from someone you love and trust?

Get to know your surrogate from a distance.

When you’re not able to meet or spend time together in person, it can be hard for the reality of surrogacy and pregnancy to sink in for you. Additionally, the relationship between the intended parents and surrogate is important — you’re sharing an intimate and personal experience.

Feeling like you know your surrogate well and that you have a strong connection will help you to feel more at ease and trusting during a particularly scary time. This is the perfect opportunity to get to know one another through phone calls, video chats, texts, emails, photos or whatever everyone prefers.

You can talk about the process, the baby, what you’ve all been up to during quarantine, each others’ families, or just about your shared interests. Talking with your surrogate can be reassuring and fun, and it’ll help you remember to feel excited about this experience rather than stressed out!

Try not to obsess.

Having this child is going to be on the forefront of your mind. It can be easy for surrogacy to consume your thoughts, and it can even more easily spiral into obsessive worrying, especially with fears of COVID-19.

But if you’re spending too much time worrying about whether or not your surrogate and her medical team are taking proper precautions against the virus, or you’re focusing too much on the anxieties of surrogacy, then it’s time to take a step back. Your mind can be your own worst enemy right now.

When you feel like you’re starting to obsess, take a moment to breathe and refocus that energy elsewhere. Anything that gives you a mental vacation from surrogacy can be beneficial:

  • Call up a friend and talk about something other than surrogacy for a while.
  • Grab the remote and binge a new series.
  • Tackle a home project that you’ve been putting off.
  • Take a break from baby preparations.
  • Take a short road trip to your favorite park or camping spot.

Lean on your American Surrogacy specialist.

We’ll always be here to support you. Reach out if you have questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 and your surrogacy process, or about your journey in general.

Remember that you’re not facing this on your own. You’re in good hands. Your specialist is doing everything they can to protect your child, and to make sure you and your surrogate have a safe, healthy and positive experience.

7 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy During COVID-19

How Gestational Surrogates Can Protect Themselves (and Stay Sane)

Becoming a gestational surrogate has always been an exciting, but stressful, experience. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more so.

How can you protect yourself, your family and the intended parents’ baby?

You already know how to have a healthy and positive pregnancy, but the coronavirus brings new challenges. Here’s how you can enjoy a healthy and happy pregnancy and surrogacy journey, even in the midst of global pandemic:

1. Follow the CDC Guidelines

This is a fairly obvious tip, but is nonetheless important for everyone.

Remember to:

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Limit contact with people outside your household.
  • Wear your mask when in public.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Try to maintain a six-foot distance from others.
  • Immediately call your doctor if you experience any symptoms of COVID-19.

While it’s easy for you to control your own vigilance in adhering to the prescribed precautions, it’s harder to enforce it upon others. Remind your family members to keep up with the same safety measures, so they don’t expose you to the illness or become sick themselves.

2. Keep Up With Your Prenatal Appointments

You’re probably a little hesitant to go to the doctor’s office or the fertility clinic right now. But skipping necessary appointments isn’t really an option, either.

Ask your doctor to arrange telemedicine appointments whenever possible to help limit your risk of exposure. There will, of course, still be plenty of appointments that you must attend in person. When you do go into a clinic or hospital, always follow the CDC-recommended precautions and adhere to your doctor’s new COVID-19-related policies.

Your doctor’s office will likely ask you to keep your mask on and wash your hands before and after entering the building, and they’ll probably take your temperature before you come in. It’s also a good idea to call ahead and ask about their policy regarding people accompanying you. If your spouse or the intended parents wish to be at an appointment, you’ll want to know whether or not they’ll be permitted to go with you before you all show up.

3. Designate a Person to Help With Groceries and Errands

To help reduce unnecessary potential exposure to COVID-19, you may want to ask your spouse or another trusted loved one to handle the shopping and errands for your family for a while.

You might consider grocery delivery when possible and try to limit trips to necessary shops. You might also remind your designated shopper to be extra careful with the standard COVID-19 precautions — remind them to wear a mask in the store, to wash their hands before and after their shopping trip and to try to stay six feet away from others. Wiping down shopping carts before use is also a helpful prevention measure.

Because you can’t control how well your designated helper protects themselves while they’re out and about on your behalf, ask someone who you trust. You might even consider organizing a person to bring the essentials to your elderly or immunocompromised neighbors, too, so you could all help to pay your shopper while getting what you need and staying safe.

4. Get Your Exercise In

Many gyms are still shut down, and it can be hard to find new ways of exercising while social distancing. However, it’s important to keep moving. Exercise is necessary for your mental and emotional health, as well as your physical well-being.

Regular, low-impact exercise is even more important for women who are planning to become pregnant or who are already pregnant.

A few simple ways to get active while staying cautious during COVID-19 could include:

  • Taking the kids or pets for a long walk or bike ride
  • Going for a jog on a quiet trail
  • Trying out some YouTube workout sessions in the living room or yard
  • Playing some casual sports with your family in the yard or in a spaced-out area of the park

Even just 20 minutes of activity can keep you (and your family) feeling healthy, strong and positive.

5. Continue to Hydrate and Eat Healthily

A lot of us are succumbing to unhealthy snacking and are getting sick of cooking during the pandemic! Even though you’ve been cooped up, try to focus on eating healthily and drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

If you need some help, rope your family members in for meal preparation. It’s hard to remember to eat healthy when you’re busy caring for children and handling daily tasks, so it’s alright to ask for some help.

Your physical, mental and emotional state will benefit from it, and staying healthy will boost your immune system.

6. Take Time to Care for Your Mental Health

These are stressful times. And while becoming a surrogate has always been a very emotional experience, those natural worries and feelings are now intensified by the threat of the pandemic.

It has always been important to reduce your stress if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. But with more stressors at hand, it’s even more important for you to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally. Your mental and emotional state also has a large impact on your physical health.

With kids at home and day-to-day tasks to deal with, it can be hard to set aside “you time,” but start considering it as part of your health routine. Even 15 minutes of relaxation per day can make a difference in your mood and overall well-being.

Try to make some time for whatever recharges and relaxes you, whether that’s:

  • Taking a soothing bath
  • Reading someplace quiet
  • Going for a walk
  • Listening to a podcast or some music
  • Engaging in your favorite hobby
  • Getting some exercise
  • Taking time for meditation or prayer
  • Or catching a quick nap

Try to limit your stress as much as possible, and try to make some extra time for rest and relaxation.

7. Remind Those Around You to Adhere to the Appropriate Precautions

This is something you have less control over, but it is still vital for minimizing your risk of exposure to COVID-19 and illnesses in general.

You may need to limit the number of people you come into contact with during your surrogacy journey. Try to stay within your “quarantine bubble,” and when you are around people outside of that “bubble,” ask them to follow the CDC’s recommendations for coronavirus prevention. Now may not be the best time to have people over for a backyard barbecue, but you and your family still have to go out into the world to function sometimes!

It can be awkward to ask others to wear their masks, wash their hands around you, or ask them to keep a six-foot distance — but you have the perfect (and very valid) excuse of being a gestational surrogate who must be overly cautious of her health.

It’s even more important for the people in your “quarantine bubble” to adhere to precautions when they leave the home, so they don’t expose themselves and then spread the virus to you. It can be tough to get your children to take the necessary precautions or for your spouse to completely eliminate risk of exposure if they’re back at work. Just ask that they all do their best, and encourage them to continue to use caution as much as possible.

It’s still safe to become a gestational surrogate or to continue your surrogacy journey during this pandemic. Just remember to take care of yourself and exercise reasonable caution! You can always contact your American Surrogacy specialist with any questions or concerns about how the coronavirus may affect your pregnancy and journey as a surrogate.

A Guide to Virtual Surrogacy Meetings During COVID-19

How to Strengthen Intended Parent-Surrogate Relationships During COVID-19

In the midst of this global pandemic, people are having to find new ways to connect and communicate. Despite these scary times, families are still being created — intended parents and prospective gestational surrogates are beginning to move forward in their surrogacy journeys again.

If you’re a hopeful parent or a prospective surrogate who is still in the early stages of the process, the “match” experience of meeting and getting to know one another is probably going to look different as a result of COVID-19. It’s harder for people to travel, and safety should always be the first priority. Getting to know one another face-to-face will have to wait.

Surrogacy is a very personal and intimate journey shared between two families, so it’s important to grow a connection with your surrogacy partner, whether intended parent or surrogate. Fortunately, technology has made it easier than ever to share this life-changing experience across distances.

Whether you’re “meeting” your prospective surrogacy partner for the first time, or you’d like to find ways to stay in touch throughout the process while still social distancing, here are some easy tips for navigating your virtual surrogacy chats:

Remember that your specialist will be there to help.

The first time the intended parents and surrogate talk is always a little nerve-wracking for everyone involved. But don’t worry about things feeling awkward — your American Surrogacy specialist will be ready to help guide the conversation so everyone feels comfortable and confident moving forward.

Once you’re past the first introductions, conversations in a good match will come easily. Earlier “meetings” are a great time to get to know one another in a lighter, casual, friendly way — it’s important that both surrogacy partners feel that they can trust one another, and feel excited to share a surrogacy journey with one another.

Your surrogacy specialist will always be available if you need help navigating your surrogate-intended parent relationship, but that first virtual meeting is a good time to exchange contact information for more informal talks in the future.

Establish a schedule.

Even if the intended parents and/or the prospective surrogate are working from home right now, it can still be hard to find a time when you’re all available to talk. Many people are juggling work and kids at the moment.

Talk with your surrogacy partner and see if you can find a day and time where you’re all available. After the first few initial virtual meetings, you may find that even a quick 15 or 20-minute check-in chat is enough to keep one another up-to-date.

The frequency of your scheduled meetings will vary based on everyone’s availability and comfort level. Some intended parent-surrogate partnerships have a virtual meeting every couple of weeks, while others may just set up a monthly call.

Write down questions ahead of time.

You probably have plenty of questions for each other, ranging from serious to casual and light:

  • Why did you choose surrogacy?
  • What kind of intended parent-surrogate relationship are you envisioning?
  • What do you need from me throughout this journey?
  • What’s your family like?
  • What are your interests?

However, in the excitement of the moment, you may forget to ask something you were anxious to know! Write down questions or things you’d like to mention as you think of them, and have that list handy when you “meet.”

Hopefully the conversation will flow easily, you’ll learn a lot about each other and you won’t have to worry too much about checking questions off of your list.

Perform a trial run with your tech.

There are few things more frustrating than a spotty internet connection, laggy video or fuzzy audio when you’re trying to talk with someone. You don’t want to “show up” at your appointed time only to find that your FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom isn’t working correctly. Here are a few tips to help prevent technological difficulties the day of:

  • Make sure you know how to confidently use the platform you’ll be talking through.
  • Check that you’re getting a sufficient WiFi signal.
  • Test-call a friend or family member the day before, to make sure that they can hear and see you correctly.

Modern methods of communicating have revolutionized the way we’re able to connect with others, but only if they work as they should! It can take a few practice runs before you get the hang of it.

Embrace video calls.

There are a lot of advantages of virtual meetings via FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts calls, etc.:

  • You’ll be able to see one another — being able to see each others’ faces as you speak is an overlooked, but important, aspect of communication between people.
  • You can virtually meet each others’ families.
  • You can take little home tours, so surrogates can see the baby’s future nursery and intended parents can see where their baby will be staying in-utero.
  • As the pregnancy progresses, the intended parents can see the physical changes that their surrogate is experiencing, so you can all be a part of the journey together (even while apart).

Virtual meetings can be fun, as well as helpful!

Feel free to mix up communication methods.

Some surrogates and intended parents are comfortable with sticking to consistent, established meetings through video chat or phone calls. Others prefer to keep in touch less formally, but with the option to check in more frequently through quick texts or emails. You can even send one another photos or letters from your side of the surrogacy process.

Virtual meetings through video can be great, but feel free to explore other methods of communication and find what works best for you.

Despite the necessary limitations that COVID-19 has imposed on the world, we’re all still finding ways to remain close to one another. Your American Surrogacy specialist will help you and your surrogacy partner communicate however you can during these changing times. You can always contact us if you need help navigating this new aspect of your surrogacy journey.

How COVID-19 May Impact Your IVF Journey

6 Questions Intended Parents Should Ask Themselves Before Resuming Surrogacy

As IVF and surrogacy procedures slowly resume with new precautions and policies, intended parents are more nervous than ever about restarting their journey to parenthood. There are new physical, emotional and financial concerns to consider.

Whether you’re eager to get back on track as soon as possible or you’re unsure if now is the time to start the IVF and surrogacy process, you’ll need to ask yourself some important questions. When considering how COVID-19 might affect your IVF and surrogacy journey and deciding whether or not you’re ready to resume it, you should ask yourself these six questions:

1. Are your fertility savings still stable?

Aside from the devastating health toll COVID-19 has taken throughout the world, it’s also had an economic impact. If you or your spouse lost your job, or if you took a financial hit as a result of coronavirus, then you may not be as financially ready to begin IVF and surrogacy as you were before.

Your total costs of IVF and surrogacy are going to be fluid, due to medical factors. You may find that your embryos are not viable, it may take several rounds of IVF to produce a viable embryo, or your surrogate may need several rounds of embryo transfers before a successful implantation. All this may mean that you’ll spend more or less than you anticipated.

You’ll need to examine how your IVF and surrogacy savings have been affected by the pandemic and then decide if you’re able to move forward right now, given any financial changes you may have experienced. Has your budget for IVF and surrogacy remained the same?

2. What are your fertility clinic’s policies regarding COVID-19?

In the early days of the pandemic, fertility clinics ceased operations in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus. IVF procedures were temporarily suspended. Now, clinics are opening back up and resuming IVF — but with new policies in place to keep everyone (including your embryos) safe.

Each hospital, doctor’s office and fertility clinic will have their own COVID-19 policies. What are the policies at your clinic? How will those policies affect you and your surrogate?

Work with your American Surrogacy specialist to learn about your clinics’ policies before you move forward. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the precautions that they are taking.

3. What happens if someone within your surrogacy partnership contracts COVID-19 mid-cycle?

The health of those involved in this surrogacy journey always comes first. So if you, your spouse, your surrogate, or an immediate member of either or your families were to contract COVID-19 during the process, what happens? Would you still move forward once that person had recovered? Can you wait that long?

This is something that you’ll all need to discuss with your American Surrogacy specialist. In this changing world, it’s important to talk about this scenario together and create a concrete plan of how you will want to proceed.

4. Are you comfortable having a woman become pregnant with your child right now?

It always takes some faith when allowing someone else to carry your baby. Are you prepared to trust someone in protecting themselves (and your baby) against COVID-19?

The woman who will be carrying your child will need to spend a good amount of time in doctor’s offices and hospitals throughout the surrogacy process and pregnancy. Even though all surrogates take the health and safety of themselves and the baby very seriously, and yours will be taking all the prescribed precautions to avoid exposure to illnesses, she’ll still need to have quite a few in-person visits at medical facilities.

Whenever possible, telemedicine appointments may take place. However, there are some doctor’s visits that will, of course, need to occur in the office.

Additionally, you’ll need to consider if you’ll be comfortable with a number of scenarios:

  • What if she’s an essential worker?
  • What if her children or spouse are back to school or work?
  • What if she lives in a coronavirus “hotspot”?
  • What if she and her family need to travel?

Your surrogate will do her utmost to protect herself, and by proxy, your baby from COVID-19. But there will always be moments when all of us must go out into the world to function.

Would you be able to accept that and trust her to protect herself, her family and your baby?

5. Are you prepared to miss some important moments with your surrogate and baby?

In an effort to maintain social distance and prevent the spread of the virus, you probably won’t see your surrogate in person as much as you would before COVID-19.

Additionally, hospital and medical clinic policies may prevent one or both of you from being with your surrogate during milestones like embryo transfers, sonograms, or possibly even labor and delivery.

For some intended parents, surrogacy is a chance to experience pregnancy alongside their surrogate. You’ll need to decide if you’re willing to miss out on some of these moments in favor of growing your family more quickly.

6. How do you think your emotional and mental health will handle egg retrieval and/or IVF at the moment?

Right now, everyone is under more stress than usual. The early stages of surrogacy’s medical process are always stressful for everyone involved, but in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s understandably even more so.

Consider how you’ll feel during your contributions to the IVF process and as you await the results of your surrogate’s embryo transfer. With the added stressors of COVID-19, you’ll want to make sure that you’re emotionally ready to move forward — so that you can be the best support person for your surrogate.

If you have any questions or concerns about resuming the IVF and surrogacy process, contact American Surrogacy now. Your specialist will help you consider your readiness and can walk you through how COVID-19 will and won’t affect your journey.

How COVID-19 May Impact Your Prenatal Visits and Hospital Plans

A Surrogate’s Guide to Changing Policies & Recommendations

Beginning or continuing the surrogacy process as a gestational surrogate is still very possible for you, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there will be a few changes. Social distancing and safety measures may affect your hospital experience, interactions with the intended parents, prenatal checkups and surrogacy-related medical appointments, and more.

It can be upsetting to have your carefully made plans and excitement marred by an experience that isn’t quite what you imagined. But the health and safety of everyone involved, especially you and the baby, are what come first.

Here are some changes you may notice as you move forward in your journey as a gestational surrogate, as well as quite a few things that won’t be changed by COVID-19:

Your Time with Your Intended Parents

If your match is long-distance and the intended parents live in another city or state, many of your day-to-day interactions wouldn’t have been in-person anyway. Gestational surrogates and intended parents most commonly communicate through phone calls, video chats, texts or emails.

However, due to social distancing measures, you and the parents may not be able to have as much face-to-face bonding as other surrogate-parent partnerships might have had before COVID-19. Do your best to get to know one another and build that connection through other means — start a casual Words With Friends game with one another, swap a couple recipes to try out or send them letters “from” their baby throughout your pregnancy in addition to your virtual conversations. It can be fun, and you’ll hopefully get to know one another a bit better, even when you can’t meet in person.

Having the intended parents present for the baby’s birth is one of the most rewarding moments for a gestational surrogate and one of the most exciting moments for the new parents. But some hospitals may have policies about how many people can be in the room with you during your labor and delivery. This may mean that only one intended parent may accompany you, or neither of them, so that your spouse can be with you. This is something that we’ll touch on more momentarily, but that you’ll want to ask your hospital about in advance.

Your Prenatal Medical Care and Surrogacy-Related Medical Appointments

Contact your OB-GYN and your fertility clinic to ask about their COVID-19 policies. Do they prefer minor check-ins to be conducted virtually? Are you allowed to bring the intended parents or your spouse? If they do have new policies regarding COVID-19 prevention, you’ll want to know about it before the intended parents or your spouse come with you to these appointments and have to wait in the car!

Of course, in-person visits will be unavoidable throughout your surrogacy process. For these, you’ll want to bring a mask and sanitize your hands before and after your appointment. The doctor’s office or clinic will likely take your temperature before you enter, in addition to other precautions.

Your Hospital and Delivery Experience

Hospital policy regarding labor and delivery during this time will vary. Some hospitals, for example, will limit the number of visitors you may have during your labor, delivery and recovery. At other hospitals, they’ll simply take more precautions — like taking the temperature of visitors and asking that everyone wash their hands and wear masks.

In more extreme situations, surrogates have had to choose just one intended parent to have with them in the delivery room, or just the surrogate’s spouse was in the room to support them. This can be tough for everyone involved if your hospital has this type of policy. While American Surrogacy hasn’t encountered this yet, policies simply depend on the hospital and the rapidly changing pandemic situation.

Check in with your American Surrogacy specialist and your intended parents. Together, you’ll communicate with your chosen hospital to determine any changes that might need to be made to your ideal birth plan. It’s best to talk about these plans in advance, so you aren’t caught off guard when you go to the hospital and discover that they have a new COVID-related policy that affects you.

Your Precautionary Measures for Health and Safety

You already know how to stay healthy and safe when you’re planning to become pregnant (or are pregnant), even before the coronavirus became a factor. And everyone, not just pregnant women, should be taking appropriate measures to reduce and slow the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home as much as possible, social distancing, frequently washing hands and wearing masks when around others.

But now, carefully adhering to preventative measures regarding COVID-19 is especially important for gestational surrogates and the people around them.

The CDC states that “pregnant people appear to have the same risk of COVID-19 as adults who are not pregnant. However, much remains unknown. We do know that pregnant people have had a higher risk of severe illness when infected with viruses that are similar to COVID-19, as well as other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza.

“We also know that pregnant people have changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections. Therefore, if you are pregnant, it is always important for you to try to protect yourself from illnesses whenever possible.”

As for increased risks to newborns, very little is known at this time, but they may be more likely to suffer from severe illness stemming from the virus, similar to pregnant people.

The main takeaway: Protect yourself from illness just as you would with any pregnancy, but continue to:

  • Stay home when possible
  • Wash your hands often
  • Practice social distancing
  • Wear your mask when around anyone outside of your “quarantine bubble”
  • Remind your immediate family members to do the same in order to protect one another

You’ll need to be cautious about who you, and your family, come into contact with. Your family will need to practice the same safety measures as you to prevent them from contracting the virus and potentially spreading it to you. You probably aren’t at any greater risk than anyone else, but everyone should take reasonable precautions, regardless.

You can’t keep yourself in a bubble throughout the entirety of your surrogacy journey, and no one is expecting you to do so. However, being extra vigilant about reducing your exposure and increasing hygiene steps can help mitigate the risk of contracting or spreading the virus during your surrogacy experience.

If you have any questions about how COVID-19 may affect you as a surrogate — including through IVF, pregnancy, delivery and more — don’t hesitate to contact your American Surrogacy specialist. Remember: Becoming a surrogate or continuing your surrogacy process is still safe, as long as you continue to practice the prescribed basic health and safety measures.

What if COVID-19 Impacted Your Surrogacy Savings?

Deciding Whether or Not to Move Forward with Surrogacy

The COVID-19 pandemic has been globally devastating. Lives have been lost and countless people have been sickened. Looking at the financial toll of the pandemic can feel cold, but it’s a necessary reality for everyone. This is especially true for those who were hoping to become parents through surrogacy.

Many intended parents had begun setting aside money in anticipation of surrogacy costs, only to have those savings take a hit. You may be in a less financially secure situation than you were before, or you may have even lost your job.

Below, we’ll help you consider whether or not moving forward with the surrogacy process is right for you, and we’ll offer some tips to help finance your journey if you are able to proceed.

For Hopeful Parents that Haven’t Yet Started the Surrogacy Process

Deciding to pursue surrogacy may have been a difficult and thoughtful road for you. And when you finally made up your mind, excited at the prospect of becoming a parent through surrogacy, COVID-19 hit. Now you’re wondering if surrogacy is still going to be an option for you.

Many hopeful parents have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. Now, they’re facing the fact that they may not be able to afford surrogacy at this moment.

This can be extremely difficult to hear when you’re excited and ready to grow your family as soon as possible (especially if you’ve already been waiting or went through fertility treatments) — but it’s probably best to wait until you’re more financially stable. Surrogacy can be costly for a number of reasons, and it may simply not be financially accessible for many families at the moment.

If you (or your spouse, if applicable) recently lost your job, or you have suffered financial setbacks due to the coronavirus, it’s generally recommended that you take some time to become financially stable before you begin the process and put any money into surrogacy.

However, if your financial repercussions from the pandemic are minor and you’re still safely employed, moving forward with surrogacy may very well still be possible. You may still need some help in order to afford the costs of surrogacy, whether that’s intensifying your saving tactics, fundraising or a combination of the two. We’ll touch on that momentarily.

If you’re not sure whether or not you’ll be able to afford the surrogacy process right now, contact an American Surrogacy specialist for free. We’ll help you assess if you’re financially ready to move forward and offer financing tips to help keep things as low-cost as possible.

For Intended Parents in the Midst of the Surrogacy Process

If you had already started the surrogacy process and put money into the journey, you’re probably worried that those funds will be wasted — and that you won’t be able to keep moving forward, in light of the dangers of COVID-19. You and your spouse may have also suffered financial losses or loss of employment as a result of the pandemic.

This puts you in the difficult position of deciding whether to press forward or to put your long-awaited surrogacy journey to parenthood on hold, potentially losing the money you had already invested.

Unlike other agencies, American Surrogacy is fully committed to protecting the finances of intended parents any time they decide they are unable to move forward or need to put their journey on hold for the time being. We’ll never push you to continue if you feel you are no longer financially able to proceed. In fact, we may recommend you return to a financially stable point before you continue.

The surrogacy fees you may have already paid to our agency are protected. If you decide not to move forward right now, your last two agency fee installments paid to American Surrogacy will always be fully refundable — and your agency fee installment will never expire.

Your situation will be unique, depending on where you’re at within the surrogacy process and what fees you may have already paid. We understand that this uncertainty is scary. So, contact your American Surrogacy specialist to discuss what can be done to financially help you in your individual situation.  We fully understand that these are unprecedented times, and we’re here to help however we can.

Tips for Affording Surrogacy

Hopefully, the economic effects of the pandemic have not affected you and your family. But, regardless of whether or not you have taken a financial hit as a result of COVID-19, surrogacy can be difficult for many families to afford. Most people need to carefully save and find ways to help finance this family-building path, even before the uncertainty that the pandemic has introduced.

So, whether you’re financially in a position where you can move forward with your surrogacy process and you just need some more help to afford the costs, or you’re planning on working to build back up your surrogacy savings in the economic aftermath of COVID-19, these basic tips may be of use:

Take a savings break right now if you need to cover the essentials.

Put saving for surrogacy (and anything else) on hold whenever you need to. Make sure you can afford your mortgage/rent, bills, car payments, groceries and the essentials before you continue making deposits into your savings account.

It’s hard to take a break from saving toward your goal of having a family through surrogacy, but take care of your immediate needs first. When you’re ready, start saving again slowly.

Defer loan payments, or consider taking out a loan.

As a result of the coronavirus, lenders are giving extra leniency right now. This means that you’re more likely to get a good interest rate on a loan. Similarly, if you need to take care of more immediate matters before thinking about surrogacy again, you can probably defer any existing loan payments.

Debt is always something you should think about carefully before making decisions, but generally speaking, now is a good time to look into current interest rates and terms. Then, defer, or take out loans, as needed. At the moment, it could cost much less to borrow money.

Refinance your car or home.

Similarly, terms and interest rates on refinancing your car or home are good right now. Again, this is something you’ll want to think about, but if you were already considering refinancing, now might be the time to do so.

Cut out or downgrade as many extraneous costs as you can.

You’ve probably already done this, but it bears repeating that you should examine your expenditure and try to cut out anything you haven’t already slashed. Downgrade your credit cards, phone plan or subscriptions; tighten your monthly budget on things like eating out or entertainment (nobody can really go anywhere at the moment, anyway); and finally cancel that gym membership or cable subscription.

Reconsider adoption.

Ultimately, adoption is a cheaper option than surrogacy. But, adoption is not right for everyone.

Take a moment to learn more about it, or to reconsider this option in light of your financial situation. Feel free to contact our sister agency, American Adoptions, if you have any questions.

You may decide that you still prefer surrogacy to adoption, but it’s worth considering. We’re here to support you, whichever path you decide to take.

Start fundraising.

If your heart is still set on surrogacy and you haven’t started fundraising yet, now is the time to ask for some help. Keep in mind social distancing requirements — hosting a barbecue as a fundraiser is probably not the best idea.

Instead, offer a socially distanced car wash, sell handmade goods online, start a GoFundMe, or hold a virtual auction where your friends, family and community members donate items, services, baked goods or anything they can contribute.

You may have to rethink traditional fundraising methods in order to maintain social distance and safety, but that’s all the more opportunity to get creative! There are still plenty of ways to fundraise that keep health in mind.

Surrogacy can be difficult to save up for, even without the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19. But we’re here to help however we can. Talk to your American Surrogacy specialist today about what can be done to help you continue your surrogacy dream.

5 Tips for Long-Distance Surrogacy Relationships During COVID-19

Our relationships are more important than ever during these uncertain times. If you’re in the middle of a surrogacy journey, it’s no different.

Your relationship with the intended parents or surrogate may look a little different than pre-COVID. If your partnership is long-distance, you may not be missing out on scheduled in-person meetings. But that doesn’t mean your relationship doesn’t also need special attention and focus during this time.

Whatever nerves you have about pursuing surrogacy during COVID-19, your surrogacy partner has them, too. Maintaining an open, honest conversation during this time will help you both relieve those worries and be better prepared for the journey ahead.

Finding energy and excitement about surrogacy during this pandemic can understandably be hard. But don’t let your surrogacy partnership suffer!

Here are a few tips to safely keep your long-distance surrogacy relationship strong right now:

1. Check in With Each Other Directly

There’s a lot of unknowns during this pandemic, and it can be tempting to call your surrogacy specialist asking for frequent updates. While we will always be here to answer your questions, the best way to check up on your surrogacy partner is by reaching out to them directly. If you wait for our specialists to check in for you, it will often take much longer; it can be a while before we catch everyone on the phone, and we have many other responsibilities on our list as hospital and clinic policies continue to change.

If you’re worried about the health of your surrogate or intended parents, please contact them directly. You’ll get the answer you’re looking for much more quickly, and your contact will show your surrogacy partner how much you care about them during this time.

2. Don’t Be Shy with Video Calls!

We get it; we’re all tired of Zoom calls. But there’s no better way to connect with your surrogacy partner during this time than by seeing each other face-to-face — safely through a screen, of course.

Think beyond your typical video call just to check in. Take advantage of this technology for doctor’s appointments and other important milestones. Intended parents may not be able to attend as many appointments as they originally planned, but using video calls can help them feel like they are still there.

If you set up video calls to check in, make sure to set an expected start and end time. Perhaps even plan some activities to prevent any awkwardness.

3. Set Expectations

With the pandemic situation changing so rapidly, it’s normal to want to check in as often as possible. But overstepping contact boundaries can actually put more stress on your surrogacy partner.

Remember that many parents are dealing with working at home at the same time they are caring for children with fewer activities to keep them busy. Constant calls or emails can just become one more thing on their to-do list.

So, set a schedule with your surrogacy partner. Talk about how often you will check in, and perhaps use quicker forms of communication like texts to let them know you’re thinking about them. And, if your surrogacy partner misses a scheduled contact, don’t freak out — give grace and remember that we’re all navigating this situation as best we can.

4. Offer Help However You Can

It’s easy to feel helpless right now, especially if your surrogacy partner is thousands of miles from you. So, don’t be afraid to offer them help in whatever way you can.

Some examples:

  • Purchase a gift card to a local restaurant for a take-out dinner.
  • Send a personalized gift basket of necessities (toilet paper and hand sanitizer, anyone?)
  • Send a bouquet of flowers or a similar surprise to brighten up their day.

As always, talk with your surrogacy specialist if you need ideas or suggestions for supporting your surrogacy partner during these times.

5. Don’t Make It All About COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone’s lives. Just as it’s a constant in your everyday routine, it will be the same for your surrogacy partner. Yes, it’s made your surrogacy journey harder — but the last thing either of you will want is to have the same conversations over and over and stress each other out.

So, instead of worrying about COVID-19 and its effects on your surrogacy journey during every phone call or email, take the time to talk about other things. Babies don’t care what’s happening outside the womb, and life goes on during this pandemic.

If you’re an intended parent, don’t feel bad for asking about a surrogate’s pregnancy and the baby’s development. And, if you’re a surrogate, don’t be afraid to share those updates and stories! We all need some positive news right now, and sharing it with each other will remind you why you embarked on surrogacy in the first place.

Taking a break from all the coronavirus talk is not just smart — it’s necessary for your mental health. Do what you can to prepare each other for the unknown ahead, but don’t focus on it. Remember that your surrogacy specialist will be here to guide you through those upcoming steps, whatever they may look like.

9 Tips for Safe Traveling with a Baby During COVID-19

It’s no secret the coronavirus pandemic has utterly changed some of life’s biggest moments. If you’re having a child via surrogacy, it’s no different — you may not be able to attend all doctor’s appointments and even the birth of your own child. And, when it comes time to bring your child home, the stress and uncertainty continues.

So, how can you safely travel home with your baby during the COVID-19 pandemic?

While every person’s situation is unique, we’ve gathered a few tips here for you to keep in mind. Remember, you can always contact your surrogacy specialist anytime for suggestions and guidance as you create your travel plan.

General Guidelines

It’s rare for intended parents to live in the same city as their surrogate, so there will often be some travel involved when bringing your child home from the hospital. Just how far you have to go will play a role in whether you choose to fly or drive home.

It can be tempting to put this decision off until the last minute, but don’t! Knowing what you’ll do ahead of time can help you plan, in order to keep your family as safe as possible.

Whether you choose to fly or drive, always follow these general tips.

1. Talk to your pediatrician.

Your pediatrician is your best source of information during this time. They likely have tips and suggestions for keeping your infant safe during your travel home. Don’t be afraid to have an ongoing conversation with them about your child’s health, any specific concerns and their recommendations for travel.

Your pediatrician will likely give you information and ideas you hadn’t previously thought of. They’re dealing with many similar situations as yours as babies are born across the country, and they will probably have a list of do’s and don’ts for you to follow.

2. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize.

Just as you should wear a mask while traveling, minimize the surfaces that you touch — and, for those you can’t avoid, make sure to sanitize. Pack sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer; wipe down every surface before you touch it and sanitize your hands afterward. Your baby has a weak immune system, and it’s your responsibility to protect them from any germs or virus droplets that might be transferred to them.

3. Think and plan ahead.

Make a list of your supplies — baby formula, feeding supplies, food and drink for your family — and make one big stop at the store before traveling. While it can seem impossible to anticipate your every need during your travel, do your best. Having what you need ahead of time will minimize your stops and contact with other people, as well as take some stress off of your shoulders.

Don’t forget to speak with your surrogacy specialist about any documentation you may need, too. Traveling with an infant may require certain paperwork, and your specialist and attorney will ensure you get what you need early on.

If You’re Flying

If you’ve decided a short flight is better for your physical and mental health than a long road trip, take these precautions to keep your family safe.

1. Know the airline’s policies.

Some airlines have specific policies for flying with infants, and others have new policies due to the COVID outbreak. This may involve wearing a mask or social distancing in seats, so call ahead of time to find out. Mention that you have an infant and see what allowances they can make for your family.

You might also need a doctor’s note or similar documentation to fly with a small child.

2. Use a barrier over your infant’s seat.

Infants can’t wear masks like everyone else, so do the best you can to provide a protective covering for your child. As tempting as it can be to show off your baby to everyone, cover their car seat with a blanket as soon as you arrive in the airport and refrain from removing it unless absolutely necessary. This will protect your child from virus droplets circulating in the air of the plane.

3. Ask to be seated away from others.

Many airlines will try to maintain social distancing among passengers. If yours doesn’t make that allowance, speak with a flight attendant to ask to be moved once all passengers have boarded the flight. If your flight is full, consider asking the airline representatives if you can be moved to another flight with fewer passengers.

If You’re Driving

If you’ve only got a short way to drive home — or you’ve decided you prefer the controlled environment of your car — you’ll still need to take some extra steps.

1. Minimize your stops.

The more you stop, the more you will be in contact with people — and the more exposure you will potentially get. So, plan ahead — pack trash bags and diaper pails for roadside changes, and make sandwiches to get you through the day. Some new parents who have taken this trip have only stopped for gas and bathroom breaks, so talk with your driving partner (if you have one) and make a plan that works for you.

2. Pack your food and baby supplies early.

Babies often don’t come on a schedule, even when there’s a global pandemic going on. Try to have your road trip supplies prepped as early as possible; that way, you can head home as soon as possible after discharge and reduce exposure from buying all your supplies later.

Add these supplies to your list:

  • Gloves to use only when pumping gas (to be thrown away immediately)
  • Gloves to use while stopping at rest stop and gas station bathrooms
  • Snacks and bottled water to eliminate the need to stop for food
  • Hand sanitizer and sanitization wipes, readily accessible in your car
  • A small bag filled with overnight essentials, for any stops you need to make
  • Baby formula and sanitized bottles and nipples
  • Diapers and baby wipes (as well as a sealed container for trash, to minimize stops)

3. Set a schedule.

It can be tempting to try to drive straight home as soon as you’re able. But doing so can tire out you, your spouse and your child — making it more likely that you’ll make mistakes or put your family in danger from exhaustion and fatigue.

Instead, set a schedule with your driving partner ahead of time. How long will each person drive at a time? Don’t forget that infants typically need to be fed every few hours — and that your child will need comforting and changing just as often (or more). It can be frustrating to stop so frequently, but remember that your child’s safety is of the utmost importance.

Plan out your trip ahead of time with this timeline in mind. If you have to stay somewhere overnight, try to find an Airbnb or similar rental where contact with other people is minimal. And, of course, before doing anything else, sanitize that space upon arrival.

Remember, if you have questions or concerns about traveling to and from the hospital, reach out to your surrogacy specialist for advice and suggestions.

A COVID-19 Update From American Surrogacy

With the rapidly changing national and global COVID-19 situation, American Surrogacy is, as always, dedicated to keeping our intended parents and gestational surrogates safe. We know the coronavirus pandemic is causing concern for everyone — but especially so for our clients in the middle of their surrogacy journeys.

We’ve received several calls from our clients about how coronavirus may impact their surrogacy process. So, we’ve provided some answers to the most commonly asked questions below. If you have a more specific question regarding how COVID-19 may impact your surrogacy journey, please reach out to your surrogacy specialist.

Please note: We are not medical experts, and none of the information below is intended to be used as medical advice. Please stay up-to-date with the latest information from the CDC and the World Health Organization. If you start feeling unwell, please contact your medical professional.

How could the coronavirus pandemic affect my surrogacy journey?

Intended parents and gestational surrogates who are still in the pre-screening and embryo-transfer phases of their surrogacy journey could very likely experience delays for the foreseeable future. While there are currently no domestic travel restrictions, gestational surrogates who are under self-quarantine or concerned about passing the virus to an immunocompromised family member may choose to delay their screenings, fertility treatments and embryo transfers. Intended parents may choose to do the same.

We encourage all intended parents and gestational carriers to contact their fertility clinics to see how their pre-surrogacy journey may change. American Surrogacy advises our clients to be prepared for a delay in these processes as the healthcare industry turns its focus to COVID-19.

How could the coronavirus affect my ability to travel for my surrogate’s birth?

As of right now, there are no domestic travel restrictions. However, because of health concerns and “social distancing” recommendations from the CDC, airlines have already starting reducing flights across the U.S. If you anticipate traveling to your surrogate’s state for delivery to be difficult, please reach out to your airline for more information and let your surrogacy specialist know right away.

During this time, it may also be more difficult to obtain a doctor’s clearance for your newborn to fly. Intended parents should be prepared to drive home with their baby after delivery, just in case. Make sure you are consulting with your doctor prior to and after your child’s birth for the best medical advice. We advise intended parents to also speak with their airline for policies on traveling with a newborn during the coronavirus outbreak and the potential for cancellation and/or refunds.

If you are unable to travel to your surrogate’s state for birth — because of imposed travel restrictions, quarantine or medical fragility — please let your surrogacy specialist know right away.

How could coronavirus impact our hospital experience?

So far, few hospitals have been overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. Most intended parents and gestational surrogates have been able to proceed with their hospital stay as planned. However, because circumstances are changing quickly, it’s important that you and your surrogacy partner are on the same page, should you need to make major changes to that plan.

It is possible that hospital visit policies will be updated in the coming weeks — potential limitations on visitors allowed, reduced visiting times or restrictions on visitors in certain parts of the hospital. American Surrogacy will not be aware of these policies until our clients experience them, so please keep your surrogacy specialist informed as you and your surrogacy partner prepare for delivery.

We will work closely with hospitals and assist our clients in updating their delivery plans, if necessary.

Will coronavirus impact the gestational pregnancy?

Both intended parents and gestational carriers may be worried about the health of the unborn baby, but there is no current evidence that the virus is passed to the baby during pregnancy. However, according to the CDC, pregnant women may be more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19.

A healthy pregnancy is always important for gestational carriers, but even more so with the current risk posed by the coronavirus. American Surrogacy encourages all of our gestational carriers to follow CDC guidelines — social distancing, washing hands, etc. — to minimize their risk of contracting the virus. Additionally, we encourage all surrogates to stay in close contact with their medical providers during this time.

Intended parents and surrogates concerned about the risks COVID-19 poses to an unborn baby should speak with their appropriate medical professionals.

What if I or my surrogacy partner start showing symptoms or is diagnosed with coronavirus?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, tiredness and a dry cough. Some individuals may experience aches, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea (although these symptoms are rare, according to the WHO). If you are experiencing any signs of a respiratory illness, out of caution, the CDC recommends you stay home to prevent the potential spread of your illness. Please contact your healthcare provider if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 to determine the next steps of treatment.

If any party in a gestational surrogacy arrangement begins showing symptoms or is infected with coronavirus, our specialists will inform everyone involved and adjust the surrogacy plan as necessary. This may include: taking additional precautions while traveling (like wearing a mask); making custody arrangements if intended parents are under quarantine; and more.

What else should we know at this time?

American Surrogacy will work diligently with our gestational carriers and intended parents, according to CDC guidelines and protocol. We urge you to do the same to protect yourself and reduce the spread of the virus. Please communicate with us immediately any developments in your health that may affect your surrogacy journey.

We understand how much anxiety and concern this outbreak has caused for many of our clients, and we are committed to doing all we can to protect our intended parents and gestational surrogates during this time. We appreciate your patience and understanding as the situation continues to develop. Your surrogacy specialist will always be available to answer any additional questions you have during this time.