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 Is Embryo Grading?

You’ll come across many new things when starting a family through surrogacy. It’s a complicated process.

One of the least understood steps of the surrogacy process is embryo grading. And for good reason — it can be confusing and intimidating.

We’ve created this article to answer several of the biggest questions about embryo grading. We hope that, by the end, you have a better understanding of this medical process, as well as a release from any pressure it is causing you to feel.

While we are not medical professionals and cannot fulfill the required steps for IVF, American Surrogacy is a national surrogacy agency, and our specialists know all about the process. Contact us any time with additional questions about becoming intended parents or a surrogate.

What Is Embryo Grading?

Scientific advances in recent years have unlocked valuable information that would’ve been unimaginable even 10 or 20 years ago. The process in which an egg and sperm join together to form an embryo was previously unobservable. Today, we have great insight into how this takes place and can watch it happen. Embryo grading is an evaluation used by embryologists to analyze this process.

How Do Clinics Perform Embryo Grading?

Embryo grading takes place post-fertilization. Once the eggs have been extracted from the intended mother or donor and the sperm has been injected into the eggs, the period of embryo grading can begin.

While the embryo waits in an incubator, clinicians will observe it and look for specific cellular developments, particularly from days 3-5 of fertilization. Based on what they see (or don’t see), they will assign an embryo grade, which will factor into whether or not the embryo is used in the IVF process or is frozen.

What Gives an Embryo a Good Grade?

Embryologists are typically looking for several things from days 3-5 of the incubation process:

  • Cell Count and Multiplication: Between days 3-5, the observed number of cells should move from around eight to as many as 150 or more. This growth is a positive sign that an embryo is developing properly.
  • Stabilization: Embryos that show stable structure, including symmetrical growth, are believed by some clinics to be more likely to result in successful pregnancies. However, clinics differ on this point. For some, simply seeing sustained growth is all that’s required, while others want to see symmetrical growth.
  • Fragmentation: Haphazard development, on the other hand, is a negative sign. An embryo growing without clear structure and organization will likely be graded lower.

The caveat here, as we have already noted, is that embryo grading is still new to the medical community. Common standards are not always agreed upon. Each clinic uses its own system to score results, while some clinics do not take part in the practice at all. One may place a very high emphasis on symmetry, while another’s grading metric might prioritize cell count.

This means the same embryo could receive very different grades from two different clinics. We’ll explore what this means about your embryo grade below.

What Impact Does Embryo Grading Have on Success Rate?

Due to the complicated nature of grading and the different procedures used from clinic to clinic, it is nearly impossible to say what effect the grade an embryo receives has on the success rate of the transfer.

Generally speaking, embryos with an abundance of desired qualities — exponential cell growth, stable structures, etc. — will receive higher grades and are believed to have a better chance in resulting in a successful pregnancy.

However, the science is not exact. Embryos with high grades can still result in failed pregnancies, and vice-versa for embryos that receive lower grades.

So, Why Does Embryo Grading Matter?

While even highly graded embryos can result in a failed pregnancy, this practice can be very useful at catching a failing embryo before the IVF process. There are some embryos that, by day five, are clearly heading down the wrong path.

Embryo grading can be a useful tool for embryologists to determine the best candidates for IVF. But, it is only one tool in the toolbox. There are other factors to determine the likely success rate of embryo transfers.

When you’re an intended parent, it can be disappointing to hear that your embryo has received a low grade from the clinic. But, this shouldn’t be taken as devastating news. Grades are not final says. And, even if the grade is too low to move forward with that embryo, there will be alternative routes as you continue to pursue your dreams of parenthood.

Where does that leave you?

You’ll want to use all available medical technologies at your disposal during this process, but you shouldn’t stake your hopes on a single grade. Trust the professionals leading you on your journey, and take heart. Challenges will arise during this process, but the end of the road is the beginning of your family.

If you have more questions about the surrogacy process, or are interested in starting the process with our agency, let’s talk. You can contact us online at any time or call us at 1-800-875-BABY (2229).

When an Embryo Splits: A Surrogate’s Guide

When you go in for your first ultrasound post-embryo transfer, you and your intended parents will simply be hoping for a healthy, strong heartbeat. It will probably come as a shock to both of you if the doctor picks up two — it means you’re carrying twins!

Even though reproductive endocrinologists often do all they can to ensure a healthy singleton pregnancy with little risks, sometimes nature has other plans. You may not have seen yourself carrying twins for someone else for nine months. But, now that you’re in this situation, what can you do?

We know getting news of a multiples pregnancy can be shocking. Remember, your American Surrogacy specialist will always be there to answer your questions and support you moving forward.

While identical twins are rare, they can happen. Here’s what you should do if you find yourself in this situation:

1. First, Talk with Your Intended Parents

An identical twin pregnancy can bring up a lot of complicated emotions, and that’s especially true in a gestational surrogacy. You and the intended parents may need some time to process this news and what it means for your journey, but it’s crucial that you’re all on the same page moving forward.

Make sure that you are open about your thoughts and emotions during this time. Fortunately, you’ll have a roadmap for the next nine months (see below about your contract), but there will always be opportunities to update that plan as you figure out what works best for you. Having an open conversation and building a solid team dynamic from the beginning will make the challenges ahead much easier.

Remember: You have as much of a say in this gestational surrogacy as the intended parents, so don’t be afraid to share your feelings about this unexpected situation.

2. Look to Your Contract

The first decision you’ll make together is whether or not to continue this pregnancy. Because identical twins share a placenta, it’s nearly impossible to safely reduce the pregnancy to one fetus. Instead, you will be faced with an “all-or-none” decision: to continue with the twin pregnancy or terminate in hopes of a healthy singleton pregnancy during your next transfer.

Your path forward will be laid out in your surrogacy contract. Making this important decision in the heat of emotions is incredibly difficult; that’s why we require all intended parents to discuss these complex situations ahead of time with a lawyer. Your contract will likely inform your next steps.

Your contract will also address the additional compensation you are entitled to during a multiples pregnancy: the additional payment for carrying twins, bedrest compensation, wages for missed work and additional compensation for invasive procedures (such as a Cesarean-section). If you ever have any questions about your surrogate compensation, talk with your surrogacy specialist or attorney.

3. Remember the Risks

There’s a reason why reproductive endocrinologists take steps to ensure singleton pregnancies in IVF and gestational surrogacies. Carrying more than one baby increases the health risks for both carrier and babies.

If you and your intended parents will move forward with an identical twin pregnancy, you’ll need to be comfortable with the additional risks this can create, including:

  • Preterm labor and delivery
  • Low birth weight
  • Preeclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Cesarean-section
  • Placental abruption
  • Fetal death

You will need to be extremely careful and take certain precautions to keep yourself and the intended parents’ babies safe. This may mean you undergo a planned c-section before your due date or spend the last few weeks of your pregnancy on bedrest or limited in the activity you can do.

Your surrogacy contract will address the worst-case scenario (disability compensation and life insurance), but you must be comfortable with these risks before you agree to continuing a multiples pregnancy.

4. Create a Plan for Your Family

Because a multiples pregnancy comes with the risks mentioned above, you’ll need to work with your spouse and immediate family members to create a plan. This will come in handy, should you be placed on bedrest, have to take maternity leave early or have an extended recovery from a c-section.

Your family should have a plan for:

  • Who will watch your children and pets while you are unable to
  • Who will put together meals for your family while you’re incapacitated
  • Who will bring you supplies when you’re at the hospital
  • And more

Your surrogacy specialist can give you suggestions of things to plan for, based on her experience with other surrogates.

This is where having a great support system of family and friends can come in handy. Reach out to your support system; see if someone would be willing to prep some ready-made meals for your family, or take some of your laundry to the laundromat after delivery. You may be surprised at just how much help you’ll get!

5. Take it One Day at a Time

In many ways, a multiples gestational pregnancy is no different from a singleton gestational pregnancy. Yes, there are some added risks but, by taking things slow and keeping yourself safe, you can still have a successful, memorable surrogacy experience.

The last thing you’ll want to do is stress yourself out with all the “what-ifs.” You and your intended parents should instead focus on all the things you can control: your birth plan, your relationship during surrogacy and the beautiful experience you’re having together. A positive outlook can make all the difference during the uncertainty of a multiples pregnancy.

Remember, if you are ever in need of additional support or guidance, American Surrogacy will always be there for you.

When An Embryo Splits: An Intended Parent’s Guide

In most IVF and surrogacy journeys, creating one healthy pregnancy can be hard enough. But, what happens when the embryo you’ve transferred to your gestational surrogate splits — and you now have identical twins on the way?

This surprise is enough to make even the most level-headed hopeful parents’ heads spin. But you’re not the first parents to experience this shock, and you won’t be the last. What’s important is moving forward with a clear head and a clear set of steps and responsibilities.

Remember, your American Surrogacy specialist will always be there for you in unexpected situations, including identical twins. You can always reach out to them for support and guidance moving forward.

There are usually a few tips we recommend to intended parents in this position:

1. First, Take Stock of Your Situation

Getting the news you’re having twins can be a huge shock. It’s normal to need some time to process this change in your family-building journey. Don’t be afraid to take a beat to accept this news.

Talk with your spouse, if applicable. Talk with your gestational surrogate, too. There is often a great deal of complicated emotions that come with this exciting news, and you are all in this gestational surrogacy journey together. Wherever you go from here, you will need to be on the same page.

However, don’t take too long for this step. Your reproductive endocrinologist will likely present a few paths moving forward (we’ll talk more about those below).

2. Recognize How This Changes Your Financial Situation

It’s no secret that having one baby is expensive. When you have two babies at once, those costs will often more than double.

Being a parent of twins means spending more on:

  • Baby supplies (clothing, diapers, formula, etc.)
  • Childcare
  • Extracurricular activities
  • School and college tuition
  • And more

You should also consider the unique costs associated with a multiples gestational pregnancy. You will need to pay your surrogate an additional retainer for carrying more than one embryo, and you should be prepared for the extra costs associated with bedrest, invasive procedures or more time off work. These costs can quickly add up, so make sure you talk about them in depth with your surrogacy specialist.

Remember that a multiples pregnancy is much riskier than a singleton pregnancy. In the worst-case scenario, a gestational surrogate’s health could be permanently affected, and you could pay additional disability and even death compensation. While these situations are rare, they are always a possibility you should consider.

3. Remember the Risks of a Multiples Pregnancy

There’s a reason why most medical professionals no longer complete multiple-embryo transfers. The risks of a multiples pregnancy are just too great, to both the surrogate and the babies she carries. A multiples pregnancy can increase the possibility of:

  • Preterm labor and delivery
  • Low birth weight
  • Preeclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Cesarean-section
  • Placental abruption
  • Fetal death

Your gestational surrogate will always be at risk in a multiples pregnancy, no matter how careful she is. This is why intended parents must talk at length with their surrogate before transfer and determine what both parties are comfortable with. If you choose to move forward with a twin pregnancy, your surrogate will have to accept this increased risk, and you will need to pay additional retainers, as mentioned above.

Unlike with multiple embryo transfers, twins that result from a single split embryo transfer often cannot be reduced. Identical twins will most likely share a placenta, making it impossible to remove one fetus to give the other the best chance of a healthy birth. Most reproductive endocrinologists will offer an “all-or-none” option: Either the surrogate must carry both fetuses to term, or the pregnancy will be terminated in hopes of a successful singleton pregnancy next time.

These are complicated conversations to have, made more difficult in the emotions of the moment. That’s why surrogacy contracts are so important — they will address situations like this ahead of time and lay out a clear path forward, should they occur.

4. Prepare for Parenting Two Newborns at Once

There’s a lot more to preparing for twins than getting your bank account in order. You’ll have twice as many responsibilities as caring for a single baby, and you’ll need to take a few steps to make that as easy as possible.

If you can, put these measures in place prior to even coming home with your new additions:

  • Recruit some family members or friends to stay with you the first few weeks after the babies are born.
  • Talk to and get advice from other parents raising multiple babies at once.
  • Create a schedule for when your babies come home — who will feed the babies during the day and night, who will change diapers, who will put together your family’s meals, etc.
  • Set up your first pediatrician’s appointment.

While you can’t prepare for all of the unknowns that come with raising children, taking a few steps ahead of time will save you a great deal of stress in the long run.

5. Finally, Take a Deep Breath

Becoming a parent is stressful. When you’re unexpectedly becoming a parent to two little babies, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Remember that every emotion you’re feeling — excitement, worry, sadness, guilt and terror — is all completely normal. You will never be a “bad” parent, as long as you take the steps now to prepare your family for this new journey. That means taking care of your mental health, too.

Don’t forget that your surrogate is likely feeling all kinds of complicated emotions, too. Take the time to reach out to her and remind her of your support. While the journey ahead may be unexpected, you can get through it together.

And, if you ever need any additional help or support, American Surrogacy will always be there for you.

5 Tips for Bedrest During Surrogacy

When you became a surrogate, you probably had a vision in your head of how your pregnancy would go. You’d be able to carry the intended parents’ baby nine months without a hitch, simultaneously focusing on your job and your family with only minimal adjustments.

But we all know life doesn’t go according to plan — and pregnancy can be especially surprising. If you’ve found yourself facing down the remainder of your pregnancy on bedrest, you’re not alone.

While bedrest is important for your physical health, it can also seem like a death sentence for your mental and social health. But there are some steps you can take to make your bedrest as easy as possible for you, your family and your intended parents.

1. Prepare as Much as You Can

The success of your bedrest will depend upon what steps you take to prepare yourself. Bedrest certainly isn’t easy, despite its name, and you’ll need to actively prepare for how this will affect your life moving forward.

Your surrogacy specialist and doctor will always give you suggestions, but here are just a few things to think about:

  • Preparing yourself: A routine can make all the difference as you pass days with limited activity and interaction. Plan what you’ll do each day, and make sure you have everything (phone charger, laptop, fluids, snacks, etc.) close at hand. Talk to your employer to see if you can work remotely or if you’ll need to take personal leave.
  • Preparing your family: You won’t be able to take care of your normal responsibilities, so work with your spouse to create a plan. Who will manage childcare while your spouse works? How will you ensure your family has well-balanced, healthy meals to eat? How will you explain your bedrest to your children?
  • Preparing your intended parents: Your intended parents will be understandably worried about you if you develop a high-risk pregnancy, but try to reassure them as much as possible. Set expectations for how often you’ll update them on your well-being, and give them ideas for helping you and your family during this time.

2. Find Out What is and isn’t Allowed

Bedrest may conjure images of you stuck under the covers for weeks, with your only exercise being your walk to the bathroom. But that’s not always the case.

Like most medical prescriptions, bedrest isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s important that you get all the important details from your doctor: Can you get out of bed to stretch and do gentle exercises? Can you still do easy chores around the house?

Bedrest in its traditional form is rarely prescribed today, but your doctor may use this term to mean a reduced amount of activity and work in your daily routine. While it’s important to play it safe for your health and for the baby’s, don’t be afraid to advocate for your needs and understand exactly what your doctor means when they use this term.

3. Get Creative with Entertainment

When we’re busy in our everyday lives, a day full of Netflix and the couch can seem like heaven. But, when it becomes the only thing you can do for weeks on end, it can quickly get old.

Women who are on bedrest should think of alternative entertainment options. You might consider:

  • Buying an old gaming system to re-live the video games of your youth
  • Filling out crossword puzzles and coloring books
  • Finding a new hobby, like learning a new language or taking an online class
  • Finally reading the stack of books on your bookshelf

As you evaluate what entertainment option is right for you in the moment, don’t forget to evaluate your mental health, too. It’s easy to get into the habit of letting the TV drone on for hours, but taking the steps to challenge yourself mentally during this time is important. You could even include your family in a family game night, hosted from your bedroom!

4. Maintain Your Social Relationships

You will likely feel stir-crazy with only your family to talk to, so don’t forget your friends! While you may not be able to do much out of bed, you could always invite your friends over for a “happy hour.” Or, you can always do the tried-and-true phone call. Talking about something other than your pregnancy can give you a good mental break.

Your friends can also be a great source of support during this time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if it’s something as simple as a pre-made casserole or a babysitter if your usual caregiver needs a break.

5. Keep Your Intended Parents Updated

While bedrest may be more of an inconvenience for you than anything else, a high-risk pregnancy can be extremely frightening for intended parents. There’s nothing they can do to ensure a healthy delivery at this point; they’re just relying on you, so it’s important to reassure them however you can.

Take the time to update them a few times a week on your well-being, if you’re comfortable doing so. Pass along any information from your medical providers, and try to still send happy pregnancy updates (“the baby is kicking!”). While you should only do what you are comfortable doing, remember that your intended parents are putting their whole future in your hands — and they are here to help you, too.

If you need more guidance or support during your bedrest, be sure to let your surrogacy specialist know. We are always here to help.

How Your OBGYN Visits Will Be Different as a Surrogate

The journey to become a surrogate takes careful planning, timing and, most importantly, patience. With so many steps involved in the process, it’s so important to make sure that the baby you’re carrying receives only the best care.

But going to the OBGYN as a surrogate is a bit different than your average doctor’s visit. As you can imagine, things will be a little different when it’s not your baby you’re carrying. Because this process is so unique, you may have a hard time imagining what your visits will look like.

To help answer some of your pressing questions, we’ve created a guide to prenatal appointments for surrogates below:

Your First Visit

Initially, you and the intended parents will be working with a fertility clinic. But after that, you’ll likely be working with your OBGYN.

For many women, surrogate or not, the first visit with an OB can be a little stressful. But the good news is that this visit won’t differ much from one for a traditional pregnancy. It normally takes place between 8 to 12 weeks of pregnancy, and your doctor will likely ask you some general questions about the surrogacy process and how you’re doing as well.

Because there’s so much to do during the initial visit, it’s often  one of the longest.

Here are some additional things that might happen during your first visit:

  • You might have your first ultrasound.
  • You should expect a urine test, blood work and a pap smear.
  • Your health and vitals will be checked, and your doctor will ask questions about your first trimester.
  • You’ll likely receive a thorough physical, which will include a pelvic and breast exam (after the intended parents have left the room).
  • You’ll be asked to fill out some important paperwork.

Involving the Intended Parents

The first obstetrician visit is usually an exciting time for both intended parents and surrogates. After all, this is an experience they’ve been waiting for for a very long time.

Both parties will have the opportunity to ask plenty of questions, if they have any. And, more than likely, you’ll be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the very first time!

If the intended parents aren’t able to attend the first visit, that’s okay. You can share how it went with them at a later point. And if you do receive an ultrasound, you can send them some exciting pictures in the mail.

How to Handle the Unexpected

As you can imagine, surrogacy is new for a lot of people — even doctors. You may run into some awkward situations.

During your initial visit, you’re going to be asked a lot of questions that may not be applicable to the surrogacy process (like questions about your partner’s health). Some surrogates get called “mom” during their appointments. And sometimes, doctors may ask the intended parents to leave the room during your appointment. When something like this happens, you might be unsure of what to do.

The best thing that you can do is to provide as much information about the surrogacy process as you can — as early on as you can. Although your OB might not understand the uniqueness of your pregnancy or your relationship to the intended parents, they should be someone you already know and trust. Even if they’re new to the process, your doctor should have a clear understanding of how to treat everyone in this journey.

If you have any trouble during your visits, or if you have an OB who isn’t understanding of surrogacy, don’t be afraid to look for a different doctor. You deserve to receive the care that you need and feel comfortable doing so.

We’re sure you have plenty of other questions about your first OBGYN visit as a surrogate, the medical process for surrogacy, and much more. For answers, reach out to your surrogacy specialist at any time.

International Midwives Day: The Role They Play in Surrogacy

Surrogacy is a life-changing journey. But, like any family-building experience, it wouldn’t be possible without the help of some very important people.

Today, we’d like to highlight and celebrate the essential work that midwives and doulas do to provide care to intended mothers and their newborns, as well as gestational carriers. May 5 happens to be International Midwives Day, and the theme for this year is Midwives with Women.

If you’re a surrogate or intended parent, then you might have thought about using a midwife or a doula at some point. Both of these professionals are great resources, but how do you know which one is right for you? Should you use both or neither? We’ll share a little information about your options to help you get started.

What’s the Difference Between a Midwife and a Doula?

Both a midwife and a doula can be extremely helpful during childbirth — especially for women who are looking for the kind of specialized care an obstetrician can’t offer. But, not a lot of people know what kind of services they can provide or how they differ.

Here’s what you can expect from each one:

  • Midwives: A midwife is a trained health care professional who supports women during labor, delivery and the postpartum period. She’s also able to provide care to newborns. Midwives aren’t doctors, but they have completed a graduate program in midwifery. There are also several types of midwives, but the most common is a Certified Nurse Midwife, or CNM for short. Although they’re registered nurses, they can’t perform certain deliveries, like a c-section. Because of their restrictions, they’re best used for women with low-risk pregnancies.
  • Doulas: A doula is very similar to a midwife. These professionals provide the emotional and educational support that women often need during pregnancy and the difficult postpartum period. However, a doula is not a maternity care provider. This means that you can’t use one to replace a midwife or your doctor. Still, their experiences as a birth coach are invaluable for both intended parents and surrogates.

If you’re using a midwife, you should be prepared for the chance that they’ve never delivered a baby via surrogacy before. In that case, you’ll want to prepare them for the unique surrogacy experience. Here are a few tips, if they need some background knowledge:

  • Make sure to explain what the surrogacy process.
  • Provide an outline of your birth plan.
  • Make sure they know they can contact your specialist if they have any questions.
  • Communicate your feelings.

Why You Should Consider Using a Doula or a Midwife

If you’re a surrogate, using a doula or a midwife can be a great help during childbirth. Pregnancy is already stressful enough, and it can be extremely helpful to have another experienced professional on your side. For surrogates, these birth coaches can offer:

  • Prenatal support and education
  • Birth planning
  • Support and education
  • Counseling postpartum

Doulas and midwives are also a great resource for intended parents, too. Some of their services include:

  • Childcare education
  • Newborn support
  • Support for you as a new parent
  • And more

While a doula or a midwife can be a great resource for both parties, they’re not for everyone. Before you choose one, please make sure you’ve done plenty of research to make sure you’ve found a great professional.

Sharing Your Plan with Your Specialist

If you’re thinking about using a doula or a midwife, let your specialist know. There are a lot of choices that you’ll have to make in your birth plan, and this is one of the most important. Using either one can be advantageous, and your specialist can help you decide which one is right for you.

This decision must be made by both the surrogate and the intended parents, so it’s crucial that everyone is on the same page. Your specialist can help mediate the conversation until you can come to a decision that’s right for both parties.

If you need help finding a midwife or a doula, your surrogacy specialist may refer you to local professionals in your area. The OBGYN or hospital might also have some resources available to help you get started. For additional resources, check out these websites:

If you have any other questions about using a midwife or a doula, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your surrogacy specialist for more information. And, if you plan on using either, let your specialist know as soon as possible. Finding the right doula or midwife takes plenty of time and research, so don’t rush yourself when it comes to choosing the right one for you.

What Role Does Outside Monitoring Play in Gestational Surrogacy?

When you prepare for the medical process of surrogacy — either as a surrogate or an intended parent — there are a lot of new, confusing terms to learn. In addition to all of the medical phrases and procedures, there may be one other phrase you’ve never heard of before: “outside monitoring.”

Any kind of “monitoring” can be scary, especially when it involves the health of a surrogate and an unborn baby. But outside monitoring is nothing to be worried about. In fact, it’s a common part of the surrogacy medical process and one that our specialists coordinate on behalf of clients all the time.

Remember: If you ever have any questions about your upcoming medical journey, you can always talk to your reproductive endocrinologist or call your American Surrogacy specialist anytime. In the meantime, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions about outside monitoring below to help you learn more.

What is Outside Monitoring?

“Outside monitoring” refers to medical screening and appointments that are not performed at an intended parent’s fertility clinic. Most pre-surrogacy medical services — including screening and embryo transfer — are completed by the intended parent’s reproductive endocrinologist for ease of recordkeeping and information-sharing, but this is not always possible, often in long-distance surrogacy partnerships. In these cases, outside monitoring is used.

Typically, outside monitoring occurs at a fertility clinic or laboratory close to the gestational carrier. Outside monitoring most often involves preparing a carrier for embryo transfer. A medical professional at this clinic will measure a surrogate’s uterine lining and confirm that her body is ready for embryo transfer with certain blood tests and ultrasounds. After these tests are completed, that medical professional will pass along the information to the intended parent’s reproductive endocrinologist, who will review the records and decide whether the embryo transfer should be scheduled.

Why is Outside Monitoring Necessary?

Outside monitoring is not necessary in every journey, but it is required in most. Because the United States is so geographically large, and because we often match surrogates and intended parents across state lines, it’s simply not feasible to have a surrogate travel to their intended parent’s clinic for every medical screening. And remember — even surrogates who match with an intended parent in their same state may have to go out-of-state to visit the intended parent’s clinic!

Outside monitoring makes the process easier for all involved. It allows a surrogate to take less time away from work and her family for appointments than if she were forced to travel to the fertility clinic for every little medical screening. It saves the intended parents money on travel and lodging costs for those visits. In short, it makes everyone involved much happier.

Don’t worry — if you’re a surrogate, you’ll still be compensated appropriately for any medical screenings completed after your contract is signed. This could include lost wages, childcare and more. Make sure you discuss this with your attorney and specialist during the legal contract stage to ensure you receive the reimbursement you deserve.

How Do You Find an Outside Monitoring Professional?

If the intended parent’s fertility clinic is not conveniently located for a surrogate, she will need to locate an outside monitoring clinic or laboratory to complete her pre-transfer screenings and tests. But, finding the right professional can be complicated, especially if this is her first experience with the surrogacy process.

Fortunately, American Surrogacy is always here to help. When you work with our agency, our specialists will help you locate the right outside monitoring clinic for your needs. If you’re a surrogate, we will help you find a clinic that is conveniently located. And, if you’re an intended parent, we will help coordinate the sharing of records and other information during these pre-transfer screenings.

If a surrogate lives in an urban area, an outside monitoring clinic will be easy to find. While some fertility clinics will not work with surrogates who are not their patients, there are many laboratories and physicians who will be happy to complete the necessary pre-surrogacy procedures.

If a surrogate lives in a more rural area, outside monitoring may be a bit more difficult to locate. If there are no nearby monitoring clinics, intended parents should be prepared to pay for additional travel and compensation costs for these procedures — especially if an outside monitoring clinic requires a long drive and an overnight stay.

Whatever your situation, know that your specialist at American Surrogacy will always be on your side. They will help coordinate the details of outside monitoring and ensure all parties are safe and provided for during this step in the medical process. While these initial steps can be inconvenient and frustrating at times, remember that they are important in the long-term process to ensure a surrogate’s pregnancy is as healthy as possible — and that a healthy baby is born at the end!

For more information about the medical process of surrogacy, or how American Surrogacy will guide you through your journey, please call 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact us online.

Is Sperm Donation Right for You?

There are many amazing ways to start a family.

Your options today are more abundant than ever before. Even just a few years ago, medical technology and cultural understanding of alternative family-building options through assisted reproductive technologies were much more limited.

With choices come responsibility. A plethora of options requires substantial research. This is a life-changing decision. What’s the best way to start your family? Everyone is in a unique situation, which means the answer for you is going to be personal.

As you ponder your options, you may be considering sperm donation. It can be a great option. However, it’s not right for everyone.

How can you know if it’s right for you? We’re here to help.

This article will inform you on key points of sperm donation and give you several important things to consider about this family-building option.

What Is Sperm Donation?

Sperm donation is a medical procedure in which a man donates semen to help a hopeful parent (or hopeful parents) conceive.

There are two different ways that donated sperm can be used:

  1. The sperm is injected into the intended mother, who will use her own eggs in the fertilization process.
  2. The sperm is medically paired with a donor’s or the intended mother’s eggs, and the resulting embryo is placed in a surrogate through in vitro fertilization.

As a professional surrogacy organization, American Surrogacy has helped many intended parents using sperm donation as a part of the surrogacy process. While we are not medical professionals and cannot perform the medical procedures required for sperm donation, we can provide guidance during this part of the process and help create a plan for the rest of the surrogacy process.

One of the most important parts of this process is identifying a sperm donor. There’s much to consider, like genetics, appearance, medical history, intelligence and more. We can help you identify the character traits most important to you and guide you through this life-changing decision.

If this sounds like it could be the right choice for you, you can always contact us online.

Who Might Use Sperm Donation?

Hopeful parents in many different situations may discover that sperm donation will be an important part of their family-building process.

Female same-sex couples or single female parents often use a sperm donor as a way to start a family. Additionally, heterosexual couples who, for various medical reasons, have unhealthy sperm quality and have struggled to conceive may look into sperm donation. Couples who have genetic conditions they are concerned about passing on to their child may also consider sperm donation.

Things to Consider Before Choosing Sperm Donation

If you find yourself falling into a category listed above, or are experiencing something else that has led you to sperm donation, there are several things to consider before committing to this option. Your answers to these questions will be unique to you. Take your time thinking about them before making such an important choice.

Have you studied the unique situations that come with raising a donor-conceived child?

We believe strongly that family is more than biology. We also believe it is important to be honest about the unique situations any parent will face when raising a donor-conceived child. These are not necessarily struggles or negatives, but they are special to this circumstance.

For instance, it is important to be honest with your child about how they came into the world. A child who learns they were donor-conceived later in life can deal with a lot of shock and confusion that leads to a negative self-perception. Are you prepared to have age-appropriate conversations with your child about being donor-conceived?

With sperm donation, a donor-conceived child is likely to have many biological siblings (more on this later). Have you considered this and what it could mean for your child?

There’s a lot to think about. Raising a donor-conceived child can be a beautiful and amazing journey. It will also have unique situations and circumstances.

Are you prepared for the cost associated with the sperm donation, IVF and surrogacy processes?

If you’ve been researching assisted reproductive technologies, then you already know that there is a high cost associated with the process. It is a delicate, complicated process with legal and medical components. While there are emotional elements to consider if you hope to start a family, there are also practical ones.

Are you capable of bearing the financial responsibility that comes with sperm donation, IVF, surrogacy and then the parenting journey ahead? Take an honest assessment of your finances before committing to any process.

Are you aware of the Donor Sibling Registry?

When a man donates sperm, he often donates more than once. This is why, as mentioned earlier, it is likely that any child conceived using sperm donation will have biological siblings out there in the world. This can be a beautiful situation, but it’s also very unique and can be hard to know how to approach.

Many sperm donors will register with the Donor Sibling Registry, making it possible for children conceived using their sperm to locate each other, if they wish to. This is important to be aware of and discuss; it’s a topic that will someday come up with your child.

Have you identified a trustworthy professional to work with?

American Surrogacy has a proven track record of success. We work passionately to help you fulfill your dream of starting a family. While we are unable to perform any medical aspects of sperm donation, we can provide guidance and direction throughout the process. If sperm donation will be a part of a surrogacy process, we can provide excellent services throughout.

Working with a trustworthy professional is the key to a successful sperm donation and surrogacy process. If you have more questions about sperm donation, you can contact us online at any time. You can also call us at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) now.

Is an Egg Donor Right for You?

Assisted reproductive technologies are becoming more common and accessible to those hoping to start or grow a family. We believe this is a great thing. But with availability comes important decisions, too. If you are thinking about growing your family through egg donation or surrogacy, you have a lot to consider and a very important choice to make.

This decision will play a role in shaping the future of your family. Once it’s made, it can’t be taken back. So, take your time. Gather information and research as much as you can to put yourself in the situation to make the best choice for your life. This article is meant to serve as a guide to anyone searching for answers about egg donation — a viable and increasingly common way to start a family.

If you have specific questions about your situation while you are reading, you can always contact us to speak with a professional.

What Is Egg Donation?

Egg donation is a delicate medical process that many intended parents will use to start a family. There are several people involved in this process:

  • An egg donor
  • The intended parents
  • Potentially a gestational surrogate

If intended parents decide to start a family using egg donation, they will first need to identify an egg donor. This can be done personally, but it is typically best to work with a professional. Intended parents often have specific character traits they want to see in an egg donor, and these can range from medical history to intelligence to personal appearance. An egg donor is half the equation in conceiving, so this is obviously a choice that should be made carefully.

After a donor is selected, her eggs are surgically collected. They are then paired with either donor sperm or sperm from the intended father and placed in the carrier through in vitro fertilization (IVF). The carrier may be the biological mother, or the intended parents could elect to work with a surrogate through the gestational surrogacy process.

Who Can Egg Donation Help?

People approach alternative family-building options from many different walks of life. Egg donation can help many kinds of people, such as:

If biological childbirth is not a legitimate avenue to starting a family for any reason, then egg donation via IVF or surrogacy is a route you can consider.

In most cases, an egg donation is used as a part of the surrogacy process. The only case where intended parents would use an egg donor but not a surrogate is when the intended mother is able to safely carry a baby to term, even though her eggs are not viable.

Questions to Ask Before Committing to an Egg Donor

As we said before, this is a very important decision. It will have a lasting impact on your family. Before saying “yes” or “no,” there are several things you should consider about using egg donation.

Are you prepared to raise a donor-conceived child?

We know that family is more than biology. Family is made of love. There are still differences to consider when it comes to raising a donor-conceived child, even if this isn’t a fun subject to think about. For instance, it is important, when age-appropriate, to be honest with your child about their story. This means talking about gamete donation and how they came to be. If this is kept a secret and they find out later in life, it could negatively impact them emotionally.

This, along with other unique challenges, is something you should consider.

Can you handle the additional cost of egg donation?

Egg donation is a delicate and complicated medical procedure. As such, it isn’t cheap. You are most likely already aware of the costs associated with assisted reproductive technologies as you are searching for options for your family. As you should with any other family-building option, be honest and practical about what you can and cannot afford.

Do you have clear ideas of what you are looking for in a donor?

It’s best to approach the egg donation process with a vision. What are some things you need in an egg donor? Consider genetics, medical history, blood type and more. Even an egg donor’s personality can come in to play, as personality is partly genetic.

Additionally, you should know at the start whether or not you want an anonymous or identified donor.

Have you found the right professional to work with?

Gamete donation and gestational surrogacy professionals, like American Surrogacy, can assist you in this process. While medical professionals and fertility clinics are necessary in order to perform an egg donation, we can provide as much guidance and support to you as possible. Have you found a professional with clear processes and a proven track record of success? Working with the right organization can significantly affect your experience with egg donation.

If you would like to learn more about egg donation, surrogacy and American Surrogacy’s history of success, we would love to talk. You can contact us online at any time or call 1-800-875-(BABY)2229 to learn more.