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.

The Legal and Emotional Risks of Traditional Surrogacy

When choosing between the two types of surrogacy, traditional surrogacy may be an appealing option to many hopeful parents.

Traditional surrogacy — in which an intended parent’s or donor’s sperm is paired with the surrogate’s  egg — can appear to be an easier route, at least at first, due to its lower cost. While this is a completely understandable advantage, a deeper dive into the legal and emotional risks of traditional surrogacy reveals it to be a troubling choice for many.

The other option for intended parents pursuing surrogacy is gestational surrogacy. This type of surrogacy — when sperm and egg from the intended parents or donors create an embryo carried by the surrogate — has many safeguards in place that traditional surrogacy does not, which is why it is the preferred surrogacy option of nearly all professionals today.

If you are considering surrogacy as a family-building option, here’s what you need to know about the legal and emotional risks of traditional surrogacy.

The Legal Risks of Traditional Surrogacy

Starting a family is an emotional process. It holds the potential of your hopes and dreams. It’s easy, and totally natural, to get lost in the feelings of it all. But when you are considering something like surrogacy, you have to realize that starting a family is also a legal process.

And, when considering the legal process of traditional vs. gestational surrogacy, there are clear risks in the former.

The foremost concern that legal professionals have with traditional surrogacy is that, because of how the process works, the surrogate is the biological mother of the child. Since it is her egg that is used in the fertilization process, the child is technically her baby until consent is signed over to the intended parents. This leaves the door wide open for potential disruptions. It also adds another legal step, as intended parents sometimes need to complete a post-birth adoption once the surrogate has signed away her parental rights to the baby.

Should the surrogate become attached the baby she is carrying, the traditional surrogacy process leaves the legal option on the table for her to keep the baby. This is a serious risk.

A secondary concern, which is rooted in the same issue of biological relationship between surrogate and baby, is that the surrogate has much more power to make medical decisions during the surrogacy process without consulting the intended parents. Ideally, this is a cooperative partnership. However, traditional surrogacy allows the surrogate to go in her own direction, if she chooses to do so.

Additionally, you should know that because of these factors and others, some states have outlawed traditional surrogacy. Many surrogacy professionals will not perform traditional surrogacy, even if it is legal in their state.

The Emotional Risks of Traditional Surrogacy

The legal process does not erase the emotional aspects of family building. The two run side-by-side. After considering the legal risks of traditional surrogacy, it’s important to be aware of some emotional risks, too.

As stated above, the most concerning legal risk in traditional surrogacy is the surrogate’s biological relationship with the child. The most volatile emotional risk stems from the same fact.

If you’re an intended mother, you will be working through a lot of feelings during the surrogacy process. Jealousy is often one of those feelings — and traditional surrogacy can make it much worse.

It is fairly common for intended mothers to struggle with feelings of jealousy when the surrogate has a biological connection to the baby, while the intended mother does not. These feelings can sour the intended-parent-surrogate relationship, which can in turn be detrimental to the entire process. A good surrogacy involves a solid relationship, and traditional surrogacy can make that more difficult.

The emotional risks for the surrogate are also increased in traditional surrogacy. Anyone who offers to be a surrogate is doing something wonderful and does not have any intention of keeping the baby. However, by maintaining a biological connection to the baby, the surrogate is at a much higher risk of struggling with feelings of strong attachment. Of course, this is natural when you are carrying a child who is biologically yours.

Gestational surrogacy mitigates this emotional risk, while traditional surrogacy amplifies it.

How Gestational Surrogacy Can Reduce Risks

Gestational surrogacy is the preferred option for nearly all professionals. In some states, it is the only legal option. There are several distinctions that make the gestational surrogacy process safer for everyone involved, from a legal and emotional perspective.

In gestational surrogacy, the egg used for fertilization is either given by the intended mother or an egg donor. The potential downside to this is that it is more costly, and it can take more time. However, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Gestational surrogacy gives the intended mother the opportunity to be biologically connected to her baby — a connection many mothers cherish.

Because of this process, there is no biological connection between a gestational surrogate and the baby. Gestational surrogacy mitigates the risk of the surrogate changing her mind and wanting to keep the baby. Since the surrogate has no biological connection, there are no parental rights to argue over.

Additionally, removing this risky aspect of traditional surrogacy creates a better environment for the intended parents and surrogate to develop a healthy relationship — unburdened by complicated emotions.

For these reasons, among others, American Surrogacy only offers services for gestational surrogacy. It is our belief, and the overwhelming belief of all surrogacy professionals, that gestational surrogacy offers the safest path both emotionally and legally for everyone involved.

Contact American Surrogacy Today

American Surrogacy can be your partner in the gestational surrogacy process. We would be honored to support you as you fulfill your dream of becoming parents.

Contact us today or call 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for more information and to start your gestational surrogacy process.

The Best Insurance Options for Gestational Carriers

It’s no secret: Pregnancy is expensive. And, when you add in the additional medical costs of gestational surrogacy, those numbers can seem astronomical.

Fortunately, medical insurance exists to mitigate those expenses.

But, what if your surrogate’s personal policy excludes a gestational pregnancy?

This is becoming more and more common for insurance policies, and we’ve seen it happen often with our clients. Fortunately, your specialist will always help you find additional coverage for your gestational carrier — to protect her and the baby in the months ahead.

Often, the first step is searching the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Open enrollment takes place Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 each year, and you will have a variety of plans to choose from. Policies can run anywhere from $200–$700 a month (plus application fees), based on the level of coverage you choose. Your surrogate’s coverage will begin Jan. 1 of the next year.

Whether your surrogate’s policy excludes gestational surrogacy or they lose coverage through a job loss during pregnancy, your specialist will always be available to guide you through this process. We also recommend every intended parent purchase back-up insurance. To learn more, call your specialist anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

In the meantime, here are some options for surrogacy-friendly insurance.

1. ART Risk Solutions

American Surrogacy frequently recommends ART Risk Solutions to intended parents looking for a surrogate insurance policy. Whether as a stand-alone insurance policy or a back-up policy, ART Risk Solutions can provide the coverage you are looking for at a fair price.

ART Risk is an insurance provider that exists solely to serve those pursuing assisted reproduction technology methods. They partner with other insurance companies to provide customer service and financial risk and case management to patients and medical professionals. The company works with more than 150 agencies and law firms across the globe, including many of American Surrogacy’s clients.

When you contact ART Risk Solutions, you’ll speak with an agent who will evaluate your personal situation and determine which coverage options are right for your surrogate. While your specialist will not directly interact with your insurance agent, they will be happy to provide any paperwork ART Risk Solutions may need to create your personal policy.

2. New Life Agency

Like ART Risk, New Life Agency is an insurance provider that works solely with clients pursuing assisted reproduction. They provide policies for fertility patients, intended parents, surrogates, egg donors and professionals in the ART industry.

New Life also offers fertility financing to assist intended parents through their family-building journeys.

3. SurroPlans

Another option for insurance is SurroPlans. This company provides both backup medical and full-coverage medical policies. Whether or not your surrogate currently has insurance, SurroPlans can provide services to protect you financially, just in case.

This provider also offers emergency medical planning and assistance with taxes and visas for international intended parents.

4. ArcLight

ArcLight is another surrogacy-insurance provider; however, it only operates in nine states. These agents will review your surrogate’s health insurance and search for a surrogacy-friendly option in her state, if necessary.  They will manage every step of the application and deductible process.

ArcLight also offers surrogate life insurance and disability insurance options, both of which will be required as part of your legal surrogacy contract.

We know surrogacy insurance can be a complicated subject, so remember that your specialist is always here to answer your questions and provide guidance as you go through this process. Don’t hesitate to email or call your specialist at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for professional advice.

What’s the Deal with Donated Breastmilk?

Not everyone who wants to breastfeed their child can, and not every woman who produces breastmilk makes only enough for the child she is feeding. When an overabundance of breastmilk and the inability to produce meet, breastmilk donation steps in.

Breastmilk donation has existed in some form or another for centuries. Where wet nurses used to physically breastfeed extra children in the past, parents today have the convenience of having donated breastmilk shipped to their house.

Donated breastmilk is commonly used even among women who conceive and carry their own children, but it’s doubly important in surrogacy. If an intended parent doesn’t want to or cannot induce lactation, but still wants to give their child the benefits of breastmilk, milk banks step in to help out.

We know this topic can be confusing, so we’ve tackled some of the biggest concerns and questions you may have below. For more information, please call our specialists at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact a local milk bank.

How Does Breastmilk Donation Work?

When it comes to donated breastmilk, safety is always the number one priority. It’s ill-advised to donate or obtain breastmilk outside of an official milk bank; there is simply too much possibility for contamination that could ultimately hurt the baby.

Official milk banks such as the Human Milk Banking Association of North America and La Leche League International require donors to pass certain screenings and requirements prior to giving their breastmilk. Typically, donors must:

  • Commit to a minimum donation amount (usually around 200 ounces)
  • Complete a phone interview and written health history questionnaire
  • Receive doctor’s approval from their personal doctor and the baby’s pediatrician (if applicable)
  • Meet certain health requirements, including abstaining from smoking and drinking
  • Submit breastmilk for screening and testing, to confirm its safety and quality

After a donor passes the screening tests, the milk bank will send her an insulated box with materials to collect and freeze the milk. Once it is collected back at the bank, it is typically thawed and mixed with milk from other donors to get the optimum balance of nutrients. The milk is then tested again, put into bottles, pasteurized and screened for bacteria.

Only after all of this is completed can donated breastmilk be distributed. It may be sent to hospitals or purchased by individuals for use. Some nonprofit milk banks will only offer donated milk to individuals once they have met the needs of premature babies and babies with other serious medical conditions currently hospitalized.

If You’re a Surrogate:

If you are considering donating your breastmilk after your surrogacy journey, we encourage you to speak with your surrogacy specialist. If you haven’t already talked to your intended parents about this desire, it’s a good idea to discuss it with them, too — they may be willing to accept your donation and pay you extra compensation for it.

Not all intended parents want donated breastmilk, and that’s OK. Their decision is not a comment on you as a surrogate. If they decline your offer, you can still help other new parents by donating your breastmilk through your hospital or a nonprofit milk bank.

Before you make this commitment, talk to your doctor. They can evaluate your health and ensure that this path is the best one for you.

You should also ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I commit to pumping a minimum of breastmilk as defined by the milk bank I use?
  • Am I ready for the time commitment of pumping throughout the day and the night?
  • Am I prepared for the extra steps of washing and sanitizing pumps and bottles more than I might when pumping for my own child?
  • Am I mentally and physically healthy enough for this commitment?

Not every surrogate chooses to pump and donate her milk, and that’s OK. If you would rather stop your production, let your doctor know during your pregnancy. She can help you get the medication you need to safely and comfortably suppress lactation.

If You’re an Intended Parent:

If you are an intended mother, it’s likely that you want to try inducing lactation before buying donated breastmilk. After all, you’ve already missed out on the pregnancy experience, and don’t want to miss out on the bonding experience of breastfeeding, too.

It’s actually very common for intended parents to breastfeed their own children. But, just as women who naturally produce breastmilk do, intended parents can have difficulties lactating, as well. It’s a good idea to have a backup plan if this occurs with you: Will you switch to formula, or would you like your surrogate to pump milk for you?

Many surrogates are happy to pump milk for their intended parents. You will be expected to compensate her for her time and effort, and this should be a discussion that happens as part of your surrogacy contract. Asking your surrogate to donate her breastmilk will likely be a better path than trying to buy breastmilk from a donation bank, due to supply and demand inequalities in the industry.

If you are interested in having your surrogate pump for your baby, please reach out to your surrogacy specialist. They can help mediate this conversation and ensure all parties are comfortable with the agreement going forward.