How Surrogacy May Change Your Friendships — and 5 Ways to Cope

Becoming a parent or helping someone else build their family though surrogacy is an exciting, joyful opportunity. But, as with every new adventure in your life, there are some changes that you won’t see coming until they happen. As you start to move further into an alternative family-building method, it can place some serious and unexpected stress on some of the closest relationships in your life: those with your friends.

If you start to feel like you’ve hit a wall with some of your favorite people, you’re probably unsure of what to do next. After all, these are connections that you’ve nurtured, some of them for many years, and you might not know how to turn the page of the next chapter of your life while still including them.

We want to reassure you that it’s normal to be scared of growing apart. But, the good news is that there are ways that you can cope with a changing friendship — and even ways that you can preserve it as you move forward in your surrogacy journey.

Below are five things to keep in mind if your friendship is evolving in a new way.

1. Expand Your Circle

It’s normal to gravitate toward people who share your own interests. Building a new support system — one filled with individuals who know exactly what you’re feeling — is the best way to cope with changes in your current relationships.

There are plenty of intended parents and surrogates who have been in your shoes and are looking for a new connection. No matter where you live, you can always reach out to other families online or through a local support group. A network of supportive friends can make all the difference during your surrogacy journey, so don’t hesitate to start making new connections. If you’re looking for the best place to start, contact our agency.

2. Give Your Relationship Room to Breathe

If you feel stressed and overwhelmed trying to talk to your friend about your decision, it could be a sign that the two of you need some space. It’s unlikely that your friend will be able to support you 24/7, but this doesn’t mean they don’t care about you anymore. It probably just means that they need room to grow, too. The surrogacy process is a big change, and your friend is probably trying to make sense of everything while still trying to be supportive. After you’ve given them some time to adjust, we’re sure they’ll come around.

3. Teach Them About Surrogacy

Education is one of the best ways to bring the two of you together. This method of family-building is still new enough that many people, including your friends, might have a hard time wrapping their heads around it. Your friends will probably have a lot of questions they aren’t sure of how to ask, and they’re probably worried about coming across as rude or insensitive. Let them know that it’s okay to come to you with any concerns or questions they might have.

4. Cherish Your Supportive Friends

Big life changes — like college, marriage, or parenting — are really when the strength of a friendship is tested. As you progress further into the surrogacy process, you might start to realize that not everyone is as ready for the next step as you are. While we hope that you’ll have the unwavering support of your friends, it doesn’t always pan out that way.

With plenty of big changes coming your way, you’ll find out pretty quickly who your real friends are. We know that it’s hard, but keep in mind that if someone pulls back from your relationship, it is not a reflection of you. Everyone you meet is on their own journey. That’s why it’s even more important to cherish the special people who make an effort to continue to be a part of your life.

5. Stay Positive

The truth is that changing friendships are a normal part of life. Some friendships are meant to last a lifetime, while others are only here for a season. But, that doesn’t make their impact in your life any less special or meaningful. We know that it’s hard, but try to take care of yourself. Exercising, eating well, and finding new hobbies can help take your mind off the stress of your relationship. Staying optimistic during this difficult transition is one of the best things you can do for your mental health.

When some of the most important relationships in your life are changing, don’t forget that you always have people in your corner. No matter how hard it seems, there will always be people who love and support you and your new journey. If you ever need someone to talk to, don’t forget that you can reach out to a surrogacy specialist today.

5 Things Every Intended Parent Needs from Their Friends

It can be hard to be an intended parent. In many cases, these hopeful parents have gone through a lot to even get to the surrogacy process — and, once they’ve started it, they still have a long and complicated journey to go. Sometimes, they just want to feel like any other expectant mom or dad.

If you’re a friend or family member of an intended parent, you can take certain steps to help them feel “normal” during their family-building journey. Just like any parent creating their family through adoption, intended parents deserve all the same love as someone who has conceived naturally.

Not sure what you can do to help? We’ve gathered a few simple tips that you can use to support the intended parent in your life:

1. A Baby Shower

Just because your loved one isn’t giving birth to their child doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a baby shower! It’s common for intended parents to be left out of the baby-shower fun because they are not the ones who are pregnant. But they deserve to be showered just as much any other parent.

Take the initiative to throw a baby shower for your loved one (they probably won’t do it themselves). It may be the first time they truly feel like an expectant parent, and a baby shower can help them experience some of the parent “firsts” they’ve been longing for.

Check out our tips for throwing a baby shower for surrogacy here.

2. A Distraction from the Wait

During much of their surrogate’s pregnancy, an intended parent can feel like they are just sitting around, wasting time. There’s not much they can do to contribute to their child’s development in utero, and the wait to meet their baby can be a difficult experience.

So, take it upon yourself to distract them from the tough emotions they’re feeling. Suggest a night out with a nice dinner and a movie, or invite them to your next big gathering (avoid anything with too many children and babies). Sometimes, even the smallest things — like a drink at your local bar — will be enough to alleviate the stress they’re feeling.

3. An Inclusive Conversation

It’s easy for intended parents to feel left out of conversations about parenting with their friends who have had children. So, the next time you talk about parenthood and include the intended parents, focus on what makes the journey exciting for them. Ask about their surrogate and her pregnancy, and talk about their plans for parenting after the baby is born. While you don’t have to completely avoid topics such as pregnancy and labor-and-delivery stories, be mindful of how your loved ones’ experiences will differ from your own.

4. Emotional Support

It’s no secret that surrogacy is an emotionally trying experience. It’s likely that your friends are going through this process for the very first time; they have to cope with all the novelty of their situation while simultaneously grieving the infertility path that likely brought them here. Like any expectant parent, sometimes they just need a shoulder to cry on.

Be there for them. Don’t try to solve all of their problems or connect with everything they’re saying; unless you’ve been through surrogacy yourself, you can’t comprehend the situation they’re in. Show them some empathy during the hard times and, if you think they are crying out for help, help them get the assistance they need. Postpartum depression is possible among intended parents, too, so make sure to keep a close eye on your friend.

5. Practical Support — Like a Home-Cooked Meal

Emotional support won’t be the only kind of support your loved one needs. Once their new baby is born and brought home, your friend will be dealing with all the normal demands of parenthood. You can be a huge help during this time.

Don’t wait for an intended parent to ask you for help; step in to provide the practical support they need at this time in their life. Ask if you can watch the baby while they take care of important details such as calls with their surrogacy lawyer, surrogacy professional or insurance company. Bring them over a home-cooked meal; they’ll probably be too tired to cook themselves.

If nothing else, just be there for them. Be the first one to volunteer if they look like they need help, and don’t take no for an answer. Just because they didn’t give birth doesn’t mean they’re more prepared for the parenthood journey. If they’re going through it for the first time, every exciting new step has a learning curve.

Don’t forget — your loved one needs just as much support during and after the surrogacy process as any other new parent. Step in and be the friend they need during this time. They’ll be forever grateful.

If you’re an intended parent struggling with the emotions of the surrogacy process, remember that you can always look to your American Surrogacy specialist for advice and support. Call us at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) any time.

10 Ways for Intended Parents to “Nest” During Their Surrogate’s Pregnancy

Waiting for your baby to be born is a stressful activity for any parent. But, when you’re an intended parent whose baby is being carried by someone else, it can be even harder. It’s normal to feel like you’re missing out on crucial bonding time in-utero — but that doesn’t mean your prep to be a parent starts the moment your surrogate goes into labor.

As an intended parent, you may find you have just as much of an urge to “nest,” or prepare for your baby’s arrival, as any other expectant parent. And don’t ignore it! This urge is a biological instinct that helps expectant parents prepare a safe and secure place for their baby to live after birth. Of course, you don’t have the dangers of the wild to prepare for — just the ups and downs of your future parenthood journey.

If you’re feeling a bit stuck when it comes to your “nesting” instinct, don’t worry. We’ve gathered some helpful suggestions here to help you get started. Whether you feel the urge to nest or not, following these steps can help you feel more bonded to your parenting experience and your future child.

When your little one does arrive, you’ll feel that much more prepared.

1. Clean your house!

Want a clean slate to start preparing for your baby? Embrace the urge to scrub down every last surface, replace old bedding and clothing, and clean everything within an inch of its life.

It’s all a natural part of the process. During the nesting period, expectant parents want their living space to look and feel like home for their upcoming baby. It can help you take control during a time in your life where you have little of it (intended parents waiting for the call from their surrogate can certainly relate).

2. Baby-proof everything.

If you haven’t already, check off that baby-proof list. Babies are notoriously curious; if you don’t take the proper precautions, they can find themselves in dangerous spots around the house before you even know they’re gone.

Baby-proofing your space can give you a peace of mind you may be lacking during the last few weeks of your surrogate’s pregnancy. While there’s not much you can do during your baby’s development in utero, you can certainly ensure they will be safe and taken care of when you bring them home.

3. Set up the nursery.

Haven’t set up the nursery yet? What are you waiting for?

This can be one of the most exciting nesting activities for intended parents. The room is physical proof that, after all this time, you are finally going to have a baby. Go crazy with your decorating, and make sure you purchase all of the supplies you’ll need for your newborn, too.

4. Take parenting classes.

Parenting classes are never a bad idea, especially when you include important information such as baby CPR and first aid basics. You may be worried about what kind of parent you’ll be (as most new parents do), and a parenting class can help you feel more prepared ahead of your baby’s birth. Sure, parenting will always have a learning curve, but these classes are a great place to start.

5. Spend time with your partner (if applicable).

Surrogacy can be a stressful process and, if you’re not careful, it can alienate you from your loved ones. If you’re going through this journey with a spouse, don’t forget to lean on each other and enjoy your last few months as a couple. Try to plan a few date nights and spend some quality time with each other. They will be much harder to come by when you have a newborn demanding your attention 24/7.

6.  Create a surrogacy memory book.

Another good way to spend your surrogate’s last trimester? Creating a surrogacy memory book! This can look however you want it to, but many intended parents choose to include photos of and letters from a gestational surrogate, as well as typical baby milestones such as a first ultrasound, footprints and more.

Making a baby book will not only keep you busy, but it will give you a head start on explaining your child’s birth story to them. As they grow up, you can refer back to this surrogacy memory book to normalize and explain your family’s surrogacy journey.

7. Talk with your gestational carrier.

We don’t think you will, but we have to make sure you don’t forget one of the stars of the show — your gestational carrier!

If you’re struggling to create a bond with your unborn child, your surrogate should be able to help. She can give you all the details you want to know about her pregnancy and how the baby is developing. She can share with you pictures and ultrasounds and, if convenient, you can plan dates to catch up and try to feel the child moving in her stomach.

Staying in touch with your gestational carrier is also practical; it gives you updated information on when you can expect your baby to be born, so you’re not completely unprepared when you get the call that she’s heading to the hospital.

8. Research childcare options.

If you haven’t already, you should make a plan for what you will do in the months after the baby is born. It’s normal to get caught up in the immediate post-birth planning, but don’t forget that you (or your spouse) will likely need to return to work at some point — and someone will need to watch your child when you do.

There are a lot of good options for childcare today, but it takes time to find the right fit for your family. Don’t procrastinate on this important step.

9. Pack your hospital bag.

When your surrogate tells you it’s time, the last thing you want to be doing is frantically running around the house, throwing together your hospital bag. So, as soon as your surrogate enters her third trimester, put together a bag for the hospital stay. Include necessities such as a going-home outfit, diapers and toiletries for you, too. Don’t forget to keep your surrogacy birth plan in mind, and pack accordingly.

10. Lean on your surrogacy specialist.

Nesting can be an emotional process, but remember that your surrogacy specialist will always be here to help.

At American Surrogacy, we understand how involved the surrogacy process can be. We know you might also experience complicated emotions along the way. That’s why our specialists are happy to talk to you anytime when you call us at 1-800-875-BABY(2229). They can always answer your questions and offer suggestions to help you feel more connected to your surrogacy journey. Anything you need, they’ll be there.

Want to learn more about becoming a parent through gestational surrogacy? Contact our specialists today.

5 Tips for Talking to Your Family About Surrogacy: Intended Parents

The holiday season — a time of family reunions, good food, and catching up after months or years apart.

As much as we love our families there’s one thing we can agree upon — sometimes, they can be a bit nosy. It makes sense; they haven’t seen you in a while, and they want to know what’s going on in your life. But, when you’re an intended parent, you often can’t easily just drop “surrogacy” into a conversation and move onto the next topic.

You may be a bit overwhelmed about the potential surrogacy conversations awaiting you during the holidays. How can you share your surrogacy news without having to answer the same questions and address the same comments over and over again?

Your surrogacy specialist can always help you prepare for these conversations when you call them at 1-800-875-BABY(2229). In the meantime, we’ve created this guide to help you make the most of your family gatherings this holiday season.

1. Only share what you are comfortable sharing.

The first rule of talking about surrogacy with family members? That you are always in charge of the amount of information you want to share.

Surrogacy is an exciting journey, to be sure, but it can also be a very private one. You and your surrogate are taking a path together that few people do. It’s a journey that you will both remember for the rest of your life. It also requires trust in each other, as you will participate in intimate procedures together.

The exact details of your surrogacy journey may be something you want to keep in between you and your surrogate — or, you may be excited to share them with family and friends. The decision will always be up to you. Consider talking to your surrogate prior to the holidays to create a plan of what you will both share with loved ones.

Don’t let any family members or friends try to pressure you into sharing information you’re not comfortable with. If all else fails, falling back on the old “I’ve signed a privacy contract and can’t discuss anything more” should put a pause on your loved ones’ questions.

2. Keep your cool.

Surrogacy can be a complicated topic for many people, especially those who have no experience in or prior knowledge of how it works. When you choose to share details of your family-building journey with your loved ones, you may or may not get the reaction you are hoping for. Either way, you should be prepared for the next steps.

If your family members react negatively to your news, take a deep breath. Remind yourself that this is not their choice to make and that the only one you need to answer to will be your future child. You have to do what is right for you.

Think about what you’ll do if someone questions your decision or responds negatively. Do you have a way to change the topic quickly? Are you comfortable saying something like, “I appreciate your concern, but we’ve already made our decision, and nothing you say will change it”? Talk to your surrogacy specialist for more tips for unsupportive family and friends.

3. Show your pride in your decision.

In many cases, your friends and family will mirror your own emotions about surrogacy. So, if they see you are excited and proud of this path you are taking, they will likely feel the same way. They may have their misgivings about the surrogacy process, but when they see you are so thrilled about this family-building process, they will be excited for you.

While friends and family may be saddened about your path to this decision, especially if you’ve dealt with infertility, try to put a brave face on and tell them everything happens for a reason. Yes, your infertility journey was difficult, but if you can look at it with a positive view, they might, too.

4. Be prepared to answer questions and explain your decision.

Not everyone will be as well-versed in the surrogacy process as you. So, when you announce you are following this path, you should be ready to explain exactly what surrogacy is and how it will work. You’ll likely want to clear up any misconceptions about the process. Explain that your surrogate is heavily screened before being approved, that she will get compensated for her services, and that your baby will not be genetically related to her.

It’s a good idea to research the commonly asked questions about surrogacy so you are prepared with the right answers before this conversation.

5. Set expectations and boundaries early on.

It can be a good idea to prime your loved ones on your surrogacy decision before you even meet in person. That way, you can let them know what aspects of the journey you are comfortable talking about – and save yourself from being bombarded as soon as you walk through the door.

Consider sending out a mass email or text: “Hi, everyone! We’re excited to see you at dinner, and we have some exciting news: We’re pursuing surrogacy! We’re happy to answer your questions when we see you, but please keep in mind we cannot talk about (our surrogate/compensation and finances/etc.) per our surrogacy agreement. We look forward to seeing you!”

Not only will this heads-up help your loved ones process your news, but it gives them time to look into surrogacy and complete some basic research, if they so desire.

Want more tips on sharing your news with your loved ones? Contact your surrogacy specialist today.

What to Consider Before Using a Family Member’s Gametes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emotional Considerations

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

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

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

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

Financial Considerations

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

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

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

Legal Considerations

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Takeaway

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

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

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

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

5 Tips for Choosing a Gamete Donation Bank

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

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

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

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

1. Start With Your Fertility Clinic.

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

2. Look for Banks that Offer Identified Donations.

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

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

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

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

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

Ask a potential donor bank these kinds of questions:

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

4. Ask About Donor Medical Screening.

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

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

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

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

5. Go With Your Gut.

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

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

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

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

Why Doulas Aren’t Just for Surrogates

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

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

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

1. What Does a Doula Do?

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

Services that doulas provide include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Embryo Left: Is Surrogacy Right for You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait Time for Appropriate Surrogates

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

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

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

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

Your Plan if the Transfer Fails

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

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

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

You have a few options:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fertility Struggles

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

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

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

Dangerous Medical Conditions

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

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

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

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

Tokophobia, or Fear of Pregnancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 Ways to Stay Busy During Your Surrogate’s Pregnancy

For many people, the nine months they are expecting is a time full of excitement, joy and things to do. But, when you’re not the one who is physically carrying your child, you may find yourself sitting around twiddling your thumbs — and obsessively counting down the minutes until your gestational carrier gives birth.

Surrogacy is a hard journey for everyone involved, but it’s easy for intended parents to feel forgotten during their surrogate’s pregnancy. But just because you aren’t carrying your own child doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for his or her imminent arrival! On the contrary, you actually have a great many things you can do during these nine months while your surrogate is carrying your child.

Below, find some tips on staying busy during your surrogate’s pregnancy. Not only will this help keep your mind occupied during the wait ahead, but it will also help you cross some important things off of your to-do list!

1. Prepare your nursery.

Just like any other expectant parent, you should make sure you have your baby’s nursery ready to go long before he or she is born. This eliminates a great deal of stress and can help you feel more connected to your experience as an expectant parent.

If you have a spouse, make the nursery a team project. Pick out wall colors, put together furniture, and organize baby supplies together. It will help you develop your team skills as a couple and put you in the proper mindset for bringing your baby home soon!

Make sure you have a list of baby supplies so you don’t forget about any important items!

2. Take parenting classes.

Contrary to what many people think, not all aspects of parenting are instinctual skills — and are definitely not skills to learn on the fly. To be the best parent possible, you’ll need to attend parenting classes and educate yourself about the path ahead of you.

“Parenting classes” may conjure up images of rows of pregnant women sharing their pregnancy experiences, but that’s not the case at all. Today, there are many non-traditional ways people can bring children into their families, and you may be surprised to see you’re not the only one in the class waiting for a gestational surrogate or a prospective birth mother to deliver. Focus on the important aspects of parenting classes — the skills you’ll learn — instead of the experiences you may be missing out on.

3. Plan some date nights.

Your life will dramatically change the moment that you become a parent. Your priorities will need to shift, and you’ll have a lot less free time than you had before.

So, take advantage of the time you have now! You and your spouse can schedule some date nights out on the town, focusing on things you won’t be able to do with a newborn by your side. Or, you might take the opportunity now to try a new hobby or do something else you’ve always wanted to do. While being a parent is a change you’ve been anticipating for a while, don’t forget to enjoy this period in your life, too!

4. Spend time with your family and friends.

Remember that your loved ones are just as excited for your upcoming child as you are. Odds are, they are likely planning some baby showers and other exciting events during your surrogate’s pregnancy! Take the extra time you have during this period to share your excitement with them and solidify your relationships.

You will need a lot of help when you’re a new parent, and your friends and family will be there for you. Help them know the support you’ll want ahead of time; don’t wait until your baby is born to ask!

5. Support your surrogate.

This is an obvious thing to do during your surrogate’s pregnancy, but its importance can’t be overstated. Remember that your surrogate is giving up a great deal of time and energy to help you create your family, and she likely wants to involve you in any way she can. At the same time that she is sending you updates and making you feel a part of the pregnancy, you should also be doing what you can to help her out. Offer to take her and her kids out for a day trip to the zoo or another similar adventure, or suggest a special bonding activity like a spa day.

Pregnancy is hard, and your surrogate will appreciate the friendship and support you can offer her during these next nine months.

6. Record your story.

Surrogacy is a unique journey to go through, and intended parents often have a lot of emotions along the way. You can address those emotions by writing down your story — either for yourself or for your future child.

Just because you are not carrying your child doesn’t mean you can’t create a baby book for them! You can document your child’s surrogacy story in a scrapbook, detailing the different steps and people involved to bring them into the world. You and your surrogate can include letters to your future baby, as well as photos of her pregnancy and prenatal ultrasounds.

On the other hand, maybe you just want to document your surrogacy story for yourself. You might find that journaling can help you process your emotions during your family-building journey. It can also helpful for looking back later on when things are especially tough or especially joyful.

7. Share your story, if you’re comfortable doing so.

Surrogacy is still a fairly new way for people to add to their family, and there is a lot of misconception out there about exactly how it works. If you feel up to it, you can take the opportunity to educate others about the reality of the surrogacy process. Start with your friends and family — it’s important they understand proper terminology for how your little one is coming into the world. You can also be open about your journey with anyone who asks. After all, you will need to explain your child’s surrogacy story to many people as he or she grows up, so practice makes perfect!

8. Organize and update your affairs and official documents.

Surrogacy involves some complicated documents and processes. While your surrogacy specialist and surrogacy attorney will guide you through most of these, you will play a role in making sure all your “i”s are dotted and your “t”s are crossed. Important things such as insurance for your surrogate and your baby, pre- and post-birth parentage orders, and wills should all be arranged for prior to your child’s birth.

9. Choose a pediatrician.

Parents should always have a pediatrician picked out for their child long before he or she enters the world. This can be a process that takes some time, so take advantage of your surrogate’s lengthy pregnancy to interview professionals and determine the best choice for your family.

Remember: If you are matched with an out-of-state surrogate, the pediatrician who sees your child immediately after birth will be different than the pediatrician he or she sees for the rest of his or her life. If you can, explore your options for pediatricians both locally and where your child will be born.

10. Explore your childcare options.

If you’re like many intended parents, you will be lucky enough to take advantage of maternity and paternity leave after your child arrives. But, if you and your spouse plan to go back to work, it’s important that you think about the childcare options available to you.

Just like choosing a pediatrician, choosing a childcare provider is a big deal — and is often done well before a child is born. Take the time you have now to interview several providers and find the one that works best for your family’s needs. It may take you longer than you think.

American Surrogacy knows that the time between a successful pregnancy test and the arrival of a child can be tough for intended parents. That’s why our team of surrogacy specialists will always be there to support you, every step of the way. We are never more than a phone call away: 1-800-875-BABY(2229).