What to Expect After Your Gestational Pregnancy Delivery

When you’re a gestational carrier, a lot of thought and preparation will go into your gestational pregnancy and your delivery plan. But, what happens after you return home from the hospital? What can you expect?

It’s normal to have questions about the postpartum period of a gestational pregnancy. If you’re like most gestational carriers, this is your first time being pregnant for someone else, and you may not be sure what it will be like to return home without a baby. Being educated about what to expect and all the possibilities during this time is the best thing you can do to be prepared.

That said, every postpartum recovery from a gestational surrogacy is different. You know your body the best, and it’s important that you stay in tune to how you’re feeling during this time. If something feels off, don’t hesitate to call your medical professional. Your pregnancy- and postpartum-related medical bills will always be covered by your intended parents, and your personal well-being is always of the utmost importance. Remember, your surrogacy specialist can answer any questions and support you through this time, too.

If you’re wondering what to expect from your postpartum experience, there are a few things you should be aware of:

Post-Delivery Recovery Time

The time that it takes to recover from the childbirth experience of a gestational pregnancy is much different than your recovery period from your own pregnancies. Yes, you will be experiencing much of the same physical pain and exhaustion you’ve felt before, but there is one major difference — you get the chance to focus entirely on healing.

When women give birth to their own children, they often don’t have the luxury of taking their time to recover. After all, there’s a new baby in the house demanding attention. Gestational carriers are luckier; they don’t have a new baby to care for 24/7 and, thus, are more likely to take the time they need to recover from labor. Every woman is different, but many gestational carriers report they feel back to normal a few days or even a few hours after labor.

As great as you may feel after your delivery, don’t forget to take it easy on yourself. Your body will have gone through a tremendous experience in childbirth, and it will need time to recover. Even if you feel fine, take precautions. Take naps frequently, don’t attempt any extreme physical activity, and delay your return to your normal routine for a few weeks. The last thing you will want to do at this point is “overdo it.”

To Pump or Not to Pump?

One of the things you’ll need to decide before you even enter your last trimester is what you plan to do with your breastmilk. Whether you plan to pump or not, there are certain preparations and steps you’ll need to take.

When you work with American Surrogacy, your surrogacy specialist can mediate a conversation between you and your intended parents about pumping breastmilk after the baby is born, if the parents want that. If so, this will be included in your legal surrogacy contract. Keep in mind, when you pump for intended parents, you will need to need to commit your time to pump every few hours.

If you decide not to pump for the intended parents, you will need to take certain steps to halt your lactation. Your medical professional can talk in depth about this process and what you should avoid to prevent complications such as mastitis and plugged ducts. Many gestational carriers say that halting lactation helped them return “back to normal” more quickly.

Postpartum Depression

Another thing to consider about your post-delivery recovery period is the hormones and the emotions you will be feeling after childbirth. Even when you emotionally prepare for your gestational delivery and are ready for the emotions you may experience, it can still be a difficult adjustment during your recovery period.

Like all pregnant women, gestational carriers have the chance of developing postpartum depression after delivery. Sometimes, a gestational pregnancy reduces the chance of baby blues; a carrier can focus on her own recovery without the added stress of caring for a baby. However, with all the different hormones lingering after pregnancy, sometimes a degree of depression occurs.

Being proactive (for example: taking care of yourself, recognizing when you need a mental health day) can do wonders in helping stave off “the baby blues.” If you’re experiencing a greater degree of depression, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Postpartum depression is never a woman’s fault; it’s simply a response to the hormones in her body after she delivers.

If you are feeling sad, irritated, or experiencing other emotions out of the norm that last for longer than six weeks, reach out to your obstetrician.

Remember, every gestational carrier’s postpartum experience is unique, just like her pregnancy will be. But, when you work with American Surrogacy, your surrogacy specialist will make sure you receive the support and education you need to be prepared for whatever happens, both during and after your gestational pregnancy. You can even be connected with former surrogates who can answer your questions about their postpartum experience and help you prepare for the upcoming emotions you may feel.

For more information on how American Surrogacy will support you as a gestational carrier during this time, please call our specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

Learning About Gestational Diabetes for World Diabetes Day 2018

This Wednesday, Nov. 14, is World Diabetes Day — a day designed to bring awareness to the millions of people around the world living with different types of diabetes. As a surrogacy professional, American Surrogacy recognizes the importance of this day for many of our intended parents and gestational carriers, and we join with the International Diabetes Federation to help bring attention to this important issue.

But, because we are professionals who frequently deal with pregnant women, there is one important type of diabetes that we wish to highlight today: gestational diabetes.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Like other forms of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how well your cells can convert sugar — leading to a high blood sugar and other potential complications. The key difference is that gestational diabetes develops only during pregnancy.

There is no clear reason why some women develop gestational diabetes. Some doctors believe the elevated levels of hormones during pregnancy interfere with the action of insulin — the hormone that helps convert glucose into energy. Therefore, some women will experience a rise in blood sugar that can put themselves and the unborn baby at risk.

Often, pregnant women can control gestational diabetes with diet, exercise and medication. Controlling this condition is imperative; left unchecked, gestational diabetes can have serious effects on a woman’s health.

In most cases of gestational diabetes, blood sugar levels will return to normal soon after the baby is delivered. But, if a woman has previously had gestational diabetes, she is more at risk for developing it again during pregnancy or developing type 2 diabetes. Early intervention from a doctor is key to reducing the risks of this condition during pregnancy.

Who is at Risk for Gestational Diabetes?

Any pregnant woman can develop gestational diabetes, which is why a proper prenatal screening is so important in all pregnancies, including gestational pregnancies. But, there are a few important risk factors to be aware of:

  • Being over the age of 25
  • Having prediabetes or a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Having gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, previously delivering a baby more than 9 pounds, or having an unexplained stillbirth
  • Having a BMI of 30 or higher
  • Being of a nonwhite race

If you choose to become a gestational carrier, your reproductive endocrinologist will review your medical history and complete certain screenings to determine your risk of developing gestational diabetes during this journey.

How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect the Surrogacy Process?

Gestational diabetes can be an unpredictable condition, and some gestational carriers develop it during their surrogate pregnancies. Rest assured: Your surrogacy and medical professional will always be there to support you through this challenge, should it emerge.

But, you may be asking: If I have a history of gestational diabetes, can I still become a gestational carrier?

The answer to this question always depends upon your personal medical history. While women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes will often be disqualified from the surrogacy process, women who have had gestational diabetes may still be eligible. If your condition was successfully managed with a change in diet and exercise during your previous pregnancy, it will be more likely that a fertility clinic will approve you to move forward with this journey.

If you have a history of gestational diabetes, make sure to be honest with your surrogacy professional about your health history. Moving forward with a gestational pregnancy without acknowledging this fact can put you and the intended parents’ baby in real danger.

Diabetes affects about 9 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. World Diabetes Day is one of the ways advocates work to spread awareness about this number — and the work being done to reduce this number in the future. We at American Surrogacy are happy to share information about this day and how you can get involved.

For more information about gestational diabetes and how it could affect your surrogacy journey, please call our specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

7 Misconceptions You May Have About the Embryo Transfer Process

There are a lot of things to consider if you are thinking about becoming a gestational surrogate. This journey will require a great deal of your time and energy (not to mention your body), and it’s not a commitment that any woman should take lightly.

One of the big requirements of surrogacy is the medical process you will subject yourself to. Before you even carry a child for nine months with the risks and responsibilities of pregnancy, you will need to undergo fertility medication and the embryo transfer procedure. You already know what to expect from your pregnancy, but you may be completely unaware of what the embryo transfer process really entails. There may even be a few questions on your mind:

  • How bad do the fertility shots hurt?
  • How long does the process take?
  • Do you have to have sex with the other person’s partner in order to become a surrogate mother?
  • How many embryo transfers will I have to go through?

These are all common questions to have. Fortunately, the surrogacy specialists at American Surrogacy are here to help. They can answer every question you have about the medical process of surrogacy to alleviate your concerns and, when you’re ready, help you get started with your surrogacy journey. To learn more today, you can always call 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

In order to know what to expect, it’s first important to recognize any misinformation that you may have heard about this process. Below, find seven common myths about in vitro fertilization and the embryo transfer process as they pertain to becoming a gestational surrogate.

  1. Surrogacy requires “natural” ways of conceiving.

Sometimes, prospective surrogates unfamiliar with the medical process of surrogacy ask, “In order to be a surrogate mother, do you have to have sex with the other person’s partner?”

While this method of surrogacy was common in earlier centuries, the advance of in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination eliminated this practice. Today, the practice of conception in surrogacy is achieved in a laboratory setting, all under the watchful eye of a reproductive endocrinologist. Surrogates do not have to be intimate with the intended father; this kind of relationship would cause far more harm than good. In fact, during the process to become a surrogate, you will have to abstain from all kinds of sexual intercourse — even that with your own spouse or partner.

  1. You have to take a lot of painful shots to become a surrogate.

Preparing for the embryo transfer process does take a lot of time and energy — but for good reason.  A reproductive endocrinologist wants to make sure a potential carrier is as healthy as possible before transferring an embryo, to give all parties the best possible chance of success. In many cases, a prospective surrogate will take certain pills and shots in order to achieve the best conditions for pregnancy.

However, every surrogate’s medical protocol is different. Some surrogates may need to take more shots than others, while some women may not take any at all. While it can be helpful to speak with other surrogates about their medical experience, the only person who can tell you what to expect in your pre-transfer medical protocol is your reproductive endocrinologist.

  1. Fertility medication causes cancer.

This myth has existed for a while, mostly from fear that ovarian stimulation would stimulate cancer cells, as well. The fact is fertility medication has not been proven to cause cancer; otherwise, professionals would not prescribe it. Your medical professional will always explain the potential side effects of your medication before beginning the protocol to ensure you are comfortable moving forward.

  1. Your reproductive endocrinologist will transfer several embryos for the best chance of success.

As recent as a decade ago, it was common for fertility doctors to transfer as many embryos as possible for the best chances of a successful pregnancy. Today, it’s a bit different. New methods of screening embryos have emerged, giving medical professionals the ability to determine which are the healthiest embryos before transfer occurs. By choosing only the best embryo for transfer, fertility doctors today improve the chances of conception and reduce the risks associated with multiple births.

As a surrogate, you always have the right to choose how many embryos per transfer you are comfortable with. This will be addressed in your surrogacy contract.

  1. The embryo transfer process is painful.

Actually, the embryo transfer process is fairly quick and easy — it only takes about five minutes! The process of transferring an embryo to a uterus is a fairly quick one. Many women compare it to the feeling of a pap smear. It may be a bit uncomfortable, and you may feel slight pressure, but it will be over before you know it and you will likely experience minimal side effects.

  1. Your embryo transfer will succeed the first time around.

While fertility doctors do their best to ensure a successful embryo transfer, the odds are often against you as a surrogate. Even when all factors are advantageous, the live birth rate for each embryo transfer is around 40 percent for women under 35 years old, and that probability decreases the older a woman is. You may have to undergo more than one embryo transfer before becoming pregnant, and it’s usually a situation out of your control. As a surrogate, you will also get the chance to determine how many embryo transfers you are comfortable with in one surrogacy journey before you even begin.

  1. Any unused embryos will be destroyed.

The issue of unused embryos in IVF can be a sensitive one, even if you are not an intended parent. Keep in mind that the storage and use of any extra embryos will always be up to the intended parents — but not all intended parents will automatically dispose of leftover embryos.

If embryos are deemed healthy enough, they may be donated to other families in need for an embryo adoption. Embryos deemed unhealthy (that is, they would not survive if implanted in a woman’s uterus) are likely disposed of. Intended parents may also choose to store their embryos indefinitely while they make a decision. Wherever you stand on the debate about when life starts, remember that this will be not your concern as a surrogate, although it is something to consider your feelings on before starting the IVF process.

For more information on the medical process of surrogacy and whether surrogacy is right for you, please reach out to our surrogacy specialists today.

Carrying for Two Couples at Once: Is it Possible?

Oftentimes, the women who wish to become surrogates are the most selfless, generous women out there. If you’re one of them, you’re probably excited at the opportunity to help intended parents reach their parenthood dreams — dreams they’ve been waiting for years to finally come true.

In an effort to help as many people as possible, you may even wonder, “When being a surrogate, can you have two different couples’ embryos implanted?”

This is a great question to ask, and it shows your desire to assist as many intended parents as possible. However, the answer to this question is always no. Whether you work with a surrogacy professional like American Surrogacy or complete an independent surrogacy, you can only work with one intended parent or couple at a time — for the safety and best interest of all involved.

Why You Can Only Complete One Surrogacy Journey at a Time

If you’re asking, “When being a surrogate, can you have two different couples’ embryos implanted?” you probably have another question when you find out the answer to the previous one: “Why not?”

Surrogacy is a very complicated process — emotionally, physically and mentally. It can be challenging enough to have a successful pregnancy and surrogacy process with one intended parent or couple of intended parents. Bringing another couple into the mix, even hypothetically, can severely compromise the safety of each party and the success of the overall surrogacy journey.

There are a lot of steps required to complete a single surrogacy journey at a time, including:

  • Screening and background assessments for both parties
  • Medical and psychological testing for each party
  • Finalized legal contract (with separate attorneys)
  • Establishment of the intended parents’ parental rights
  • Negotiation of surrogate compensation
  • And more

All of these steps often add up to a surrogacy journey of a year or more. Thinking about adding another couple to the mix? This will not only increase that overall time but also complicate every other step involved in the process. Not only will the preferences and goals of the surrogate have to be considered but the two separate sets of intended parents’, as well!

Every person pursuing surrogacy has different hopes and goals for their surrogacy journey; including two sets of intended parents in one surrogacy journey is logistically impossible.

The Medical Dangers to the Surrogate

You may think, “But my intended parents and I can handle those challenges. Why can’t I carry two children at once and help as many people as possible become parents?”

Completing a surrogacy with more than one set of intended parents isn’t just complicated — it’s much more dangerous for a surrogate like you.

In modern surrogacy (and in vitro fertilization), fertility specialists highly recommend only transferring one embryo to a woman’s uterus. While medical professionals used to transfer as many embryos as possible to ensure success, better screening and preparation allows professionals today to implant only the highest-quality embryo into a woman’s uterus. There’s a big reason for this: Carrying multiples has been proven to cause many more risks for a woman and is strongly advised against.

Carrying more than one child leads to an increased likelihood of:

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

Therefore, carrying two children for the same couple comes with enough risk as it is. If you carry two children for separate couples, you not only take on these risks but also the complication of two different sets of parents having different priorities when it comes to medical treatment.

Don’t Worry — You Can Be a Surrogate More Than Once

If you’re asking, “When being a surrogate, can you have two different couples’ embryos implanted?” we encourage you to do some more research about the surrogacy journey and what it will require of you. This path may seem easier at first glance, but it’s not only more difficult and riskier — but also impossible. You can quickly run into legal and medical trouble if you try to work with more than one intended parent couple at a time.

Fortunately, you can certainly be a surrogate more than once. As long as you remain healthy and meet the requirements to be a surrogate, you can help many intended parents add to their family and reach their parenthood goals. At American Surrogacy, you can be a surrogate as long as you have had no more than five vaginal births and no more than three Cesarean births. This means you can be a surrogate multiple times — just like other women have been!

For more information about becoming a surrogate and finding intended parents to work with, please contact our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) today.

Choosing Between Egg Donation and Surrogacy: What’s Right for You?

Are you considering using an egg donor or a surrogate to help you become a parent? It’s a complicated decision to make, which is why it’s so important that every intended parent in this situation fully understand both of their options before moving forward. Only then can you choose the path that is truly the best one for your family.

This article will help you better understand the differences between egg donation and surrogacy, and what situations might call for working with one or the other (or both). You can always contact our surrogacy specialists for more information about what the gestational surrogacy process will look like for you.

What is Egg Donation?

Egg donors are carefully screened women who are willing to share information about themselves with intended parents — and eventually share genetic material, as well. Egg donors are healthy, often educated and have no family history of genetic conditions. Some intended parents like to choose an egg donor who has particular personality traits or physical characteristics that they wish to see in a child.

An egg donor would provide half of a child’s genetics, so most intended parents choose their egg donor carefully through a trusted fertility clinic or donor agency. Sometimes intended parents choose someone that they know to be their egg donor, like a friend or family member.

Viable eggs are surgically collected from a donor. Then, they can be fertilized in a lab through in vitro fertilization (IVF) using sperm from either a donor or an intended father. Next, the resulting embryo is transferred to the uterus of either a surrogate or an intended mother to carry.

Who Might Consider Using an Egg Donor?

There are several people who might choose to build their family through an egg donation:

  • A woman who is unable to produce viable eggs but who has sperm from an intended father or a donor, and is physically able to carry the pregnancy to term herself.
  • A same-sex male couple who is working with a gestational surrogate to carry their baby.
  • A single man who is working with a gestational surrogate to carry his baby.

In many situations, an egg donor is used in tandem with a surrogate. Typically, the only situation in which someone would exclusively use an egg donor and not a surrogate is when the intended mother’s eggs are not viable, but she is able to carry a baby safely to term.

In those instances, an embryo would be created in a lab through IVF using the donor egg and sperm from either the intended father or from a donor, and then the embryo would be transferred to the intended mother’s uterus.

In most situations, however, the created embryo is transferred to a gestational surrogate.

What is Surrogacy?

Surrogates are carefully screened women who are able to carry a pregnancy to term and safely give birth. Intended parents partner with surrogates they trust through surrogacy agencies, or with a woman they already know who has offered to carry the child. Intended parents and surrogates communicate directly and typically form a relationship throughout the process.

In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate’s eggs are not used, so she would not be related to the child she carries for the intended parents.

Instead, an embryo is transferred to the uterus of a gestational surrogate for her to carry to term. That embryo can be created in a lab through IVF using donated eggs and/or sperm, egg and/or sperm from intended parents, or a combination of a donor and an intended parent.

Who Might Consider Using a Surrogate?

Anyone who is unable to safely carry or deliver a child themselves for any reason will likely use a surrogate. However, the people who most commonly work with a surrogate include:

  • A woman who is unable to carry a pregnancy herself but has viable eggs to use.
  • A same-sex male couple who are using a donor egg.
  • A single man who is using a donor egg.

Often, egg and/or sperm donors are used in tandem with a surrogate. Heterosexual couples who have viable eggs and sperm will usually not need to work with an egg or sperm donor and will only work with a surrogate.

Most Intended Parents Will Work with Both

In most situations, donors (for sperm, an egg or both) and surrogates are both needed to help the intended parent(s) have a child. However, there are a couple situations in which you could choose to work with only an egg donor or only a surrogate:

  • If you’re a heterosexual couple with viable eggs and sperm, then you likely won’t need to use a donor.
  • If you’re a woman who is able to safely and successfully carry a pregnancy to term, then you likely won’t need to use a surrogate.

In almost every other situation, you’ll need to work with a donor (either for an egg or sperm) as well as a surrogate.

Need help finding the right egg and/or sperm donors? We can refer you to trusted fertility clinics to help you find the right donor.

Need help finding the right surrogate? We can help you match with surrogates who fit what you’re looking for.

Want to learn more about surrogacy in general? Contact us online or call 1-800-875-2229 to learn more about our services and how we can help you on your journey to parenthood.

Can You Get Pregnant with Your Own Child as a Surrogate?

Before becoming a surrogate, you likely have a lot of questions. In your research, you have probably come across a fair number of dramatic, sensationalized stories from former surrogates. They may even make you nervous about moving forward with this process.

One such story that gained traction last year was that of Jessica Allen, a California surrogate who became pregnant with twins — only to find out that one of the children was her biological son. Critics of surrogacy took this story as an opportunity to emphasize the dangers of surrogacy, and the fact that Allen had to “fight for her own son.”

Understandably, this story may worry you. The good news? A situation like this is extremely rare and can easily be avoided by following proper protocols.

When you become a surrogate, you will be required to go through screening and assessments to ensure you are physically and emotionally capable of the journey ahead. During these screenings, your surrogacy professional will describe in detail the medical process of surrogacy — and exactly how it will work to eliminate complications like this from happening.

But, how exactly do you make sure you don’t get pregnant with your own child along the way? The precautions to take are pretty simple:

1. You will be on a strict fertility medication schedule prior to embryo transfer.

Before you can even be approved for an embryo transfer, you will need to prepare your body for the process. You will work with your intended parents’ fertility clinic to create a medication schedule that regulates your cycle and maximizes your chances for a successful embryo transfer. Your medication will likely include the birth control pill, which will stop your ovulation and prevent pregnancy in the period before your embryo transfer process.

2. You will be required to refrain from sexual intercourse leading up to and after the pregnancy is confirmed.

This is perhaps the biggest prevention of an unplanned pregnancy during the surrogacy process — and the step that Allen and her husband likely disregarded.

After you complete your medical routine, your body will be hyper-fertile and ready to receive a transferred embryo. This will mean your body is also more likely to conceive if you engage in sexual intercourse. For this reason, surrogacy professionals will require that you refrain from sex for a certain amount of time. This will be outlined in your surrogacy contract, as well. Breaking this agreement, as Allen presumably did, could lead to extreme legal consequences.

If you do as requested and refrain from sex, there is no way that you will get pregnant with your own biological child during the surrogacy process. Therefore, it’s important that your spouse is on the same page with you about the requirements of surrogacy (including this) before starting the journey. Your choice to be a surrogate will impact him, as well as the rest of your immediate family. It truly is a family journey that you take together.

3. Your medical professional will support you every step of the way.

When you become a surrogate, there will be several professionals acting to protect your rights and interests every step of the way. In addition to your surrogacy specialist and your surrogacy attorney, your medical professional will provide the physical and medical support you need during this journey.

Your medical protocol will always be tailored to you, and your medical professional will make sure you are comfortable. They will be there to answer your questions and ensure everything goes as planned — including your pregnancy. If there is any sign that an embryo transfer or a potential pregnancy may be compromised, you will have the support you need.

So, when you read the dramatic “horror stories” about surrogacy, be reassured that these are very rare cases indeed — and, as long as you follow your professionals’ instructions, your surrogacy journey will be very likely to succeed. You need not worry about becoming pregnant with your own child during the surrogacy process; the child that you give birth to will be the intended parents’, and you will have no responsibility to take custody of another child upon delivery.

To learn more about the medical process of surrogacy, you can always contact our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

IVF Refunds and Packages: How Does It Apply to Surrogacy?

If you’ve considered working with an IVF clinic to use in vitro fertilization (IVF) to become a parent — whether by carrying a child yourself or by using a gestational surrogate — you may have heard about IVF refund programs and IVF packages. IVF can be expensive; there’s no doubt about that. But can these programs really help you save money?

It’s always a good idea to speak at length with your fertility clinic and your surrogacy professional before deciding whether or not to utilize these programs in your surrogacy journey. Medical circumstances vary significantly in each person’s case, and what is right for one may not be right for another. Only your personal professionals can help you decide what is best for your family.

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about IVF clinic refund and package programs, and whether or not they can help you become a parent without spending more money than you should:

What is an IVF Refund Program?

With an IVF refund program or shared-risk program, you would pay an additional (usually flat-rate) fee that pledges to return some of your costs if you (or your gestational surrogate) are unable to get pregnant in a set number of IVF rounds. These are often paired with IVF packages.

Not everyone may qualify for IVF refund programs. If you have factors that may increase your likelihood of failing to get pregnant, many IVF clinics don’t want to take on that financial risk. Qualifying clients usually have to be under a certain age, have little to no previously failed IVF cycles and a low BMI. These qualifications will vary from one IVF clinic to another.

What is an IVF Package?

IVF clinics often offer deals on purchasing packages or bundles of IVF rounds. You would purchase a certain number of IVF rounds, and the cost of each of those rounds would be lower than if you were to buy them individually rather than in a package deal.

You might need all of those rounds of IVF to achieve a successful pregnancy. You might need more than the rounds you buy in that package. Or you (or your surrogate) might only need one round to get pregnant. However, you would not be refunded for any unused rounds of IVF purchased in a package deal.

What are the Benefits of IVF Refund and Package Programs?

If you or your surrogate fail to get pregnant in that set number of IVF rounds, an IVF refund package could return some (but not all) of those costs to you so that you could pursue other family-building options with that money, such as adoption.

The benefit of purchasing IVF packages is that each round of IVF in the package is at a lower rate than if you were to buy each round individually without the package deal.

So, you would be spending more money up front — but there’s a chance that you’d save money if you have a hard time conceiving through IVF and need a lot of rounds, or if you are unable to conceive through IVF at all.

What’s the Potential Catch?

IVF clinics may weigh the probabilities of you or your surrogate getting pregnant before beginning your medical treatment. If they think you’re more likely to get pregnant quickly through IVF, they’ll offer you packages and refund programs. This way, if they’re right and you do become pregnant relatively quickly, they’ll be able to keep any extra money you spent on unused rounds of IVF. If they think you’re less likely to get pregnant, you won’t qualify for those programs, because they don’t want to risk the chance of having to refund your money.

Some people wind up spending thousands more to get pregnant through IVF than if they had purchased individual rounds of IVF, even if the individual rounds were higher cost per round.

This often means that those people aren’t left with enough in their budget for surrogacy or adoption, and IVF is no longer an option for them, either.

Is It Still Worth It?

There is a chance that you’ll come out of purchasing an IVF refund or package program having saved some money. That depends on whether or not you needed the additional rounds of IVF to successfully have a baby.

If you or your surrogate ends up getting pregnant surprisingly quickly, you might have spent a lot more money than you needed to, even if you were spending more money on individual rounds of IVF. The clinic will keep any additional money you spent on the unused rounds of IVF in the IVF package you purchased. There’s no real way to tell how fast you might get pregnant when you start IVF, if at all.

So, if you do fail to get pregnant through IVF, paying that extra money for the refund program could be beneficial, as you could use that money towards adoption or surrogacy fees. Then again, if you paid more for a refund program and you wind up getting pregnant, you will have lost that money.

Essentially, it depends on you how want to gamble on potential success or failure of IVF. With IVF, there is simply the possibility of not getting pregnant.

Infertility is unfair and frustrating, to say the very least. But remember — you are not alone and even if it doesn’t seem like it now, there are always paths to parenthood. To learn more about the surrogacy options available to you (including using a gestational surrogate to ensure the best chances of IVF success), you can always contact American Surrogacy at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

What You Need to Know About Uterine Lining in Surrogacy

There are many different things involved in a successful embryo transfer, whether it’s a part of a surrogacy or in vitro fertilization process. Therefore, it’s important that all intended parents and surrogates talk in detail with their fertility specialist about the path ahead of them — everything that they should know before starting this complicated medical process.

If you are a surrogate, you may have come across a lot of information about uterine lining in your research. Many surrogates religiously track their uterine lining up until their embryo transfer process, which may make you wonder, “What is the big deal about uterine lining in surrogacy?”

As always, we recommend you speak with a fertility specialist or gynecologist for the most accurate information about what the thickness of uterine lining will mean in your situation. In the meantime, you can find the basic things you need to know below.

What Role Does Uterine Lining Play in IVF?

Every surrogacy (and every IVF) process requires the transfer and eventual implantation of an embryo to be successful. While the quality of the embryo plays a large role in whether it implants in the uterus, one of the other important factors in this process is the thickness of a woman’s uterine lining.

If a uterine lining is too thin, it can lead to failed implantation or even early pregnancy loss. A thick uterine lining provides a safe and welcoming environment for a transferred embryo, making it easier for the embryo to implant into the walls of the uterus. This thicker lining will provide nourishment to the embryo as it grows, making it more likely that a successful pregnancy can be carried to term.

Before you start your journey as a surrogate, your fertility specialist will likely conduct a few tests beforehand to ensure your uterus is ready for this process. These tests will also be completed again before an embryo is transferred to your uterus.

What Numbers Should You Look for in Your Uterine Lining?

Remember, every woman is different, and only your doctor can accurately explain what your uterine lining should look like before implantation. In general, studies have shown that a uterine lining should be 6 or more millimeters for successful implantation. An ideal lining is at least 7 to 8 millimeters thick.

The quality of a uterine lining refers to more than just thickness, however. In order for the correct thickness to be present in the first place, there must be the correct tissue structure, the right receptors within the uterus, and the right balance of hormones. This is why surrogates are often required to take estrogen and progesterone prior to embryo transfer — to regulate the proper hormone balance for a hospitable womb.

You may also hear the phrase “triple stripe” from others going through the IVF and surrogacy process. This refers to the structure of the lining in the uterus. A more receptive lining has a tri-laminar appearance, usually three lines right on top of each other. Again, your medical professional will look for this three-layer appearance before beginning the embryo transfer process.

How Can You Improve Your Uterine Lining?

In most cases, the thickness of a woman’s lining is out of her control. It’s something that is regulated by her own body and hormones prescribed by her doctor. Every body is different, which means that one woman may naturally have a better uterine lining than another.

Before you start researching ways to improve your uterine lining, we encourage you speak with your fertility specialist or medical professional. You should not take medical advice from anyone other than this professional.

That said, there are a few things that may help improve your uterine lining — and certainly won’t harm it:

  • Partake in regular, moderate exercise to get your blood flowing throughout your body.
  • Eliminate or limit substances that may restrict blood flow, such as caffeine, nicotine, seasonal allergy medications and cold remedies to stop nasal swelling.
  • Consider acupuncture.
  • Think about your body weight; extra weight and fat cells can promote pelvic blood flow and additional estrogen.
  • Look into nutritional supplements such as vitamin E and L-arginine.

Your doctor can give you the best idea of what steps might be helpful in your situation. At the end of the day, however, stressing out about the thickness of your uterine lining will do more harm than good. What will be will be — an important thing to learn early on in a surrogacy journey.

To learn more about the medical process of surrogacy, we encourage you to contact a local fertility specialist or one of our agency’s surrogacy specialists today.

Is Cord Blood Banking Right for You? What to Know About This Process

There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to your surrogate’s delivery plan. You and your surrogacy specialist will need to work with her, her chosen obstetrician and her hospital to determine what your plan looks like moving forward. In addition to deciding who will be present during the birth, what kind of delivery can be expected and where you as an intended parent will stay, there is another thing you may wish to consider: collecting and banking the cord blood after your surrogate’s delivery.

In most deliveries, a woman’s placenta, umbilical cord and all the blood within them are disposed of after birth. However, a growing number of women are choosing to take advantage of the benefits cord blood offers, both directly after birth and for years to come.

In this article, you’ll learn a little more about your options when it comes to this new trend. If you are interested in finding out more about this process, we encourage you to contact a professional organization like Americord or Viacord.

Why Collect Stem Cells and Blood from the Umbilical Cord and Placenta?

A woman’s umbilical cord and placenta contain important blood cells known as hematopoietic stem cells. These cells can transform into any type of blood cells and cellular blood components in our bodies, making them incredibly useful and full of possibilities for parents and children. Because of this, stem cells are vital in the development of all tissues, organs and systems in the body.

This transformative power holds many advantages; stem cells have been effective in treating certain diseases or conditions, whether in the child, their parent or their siblings. For example, cord blood stem cells have the ability to treat leukemia and other inherited health disorders with less chance of rejection by the body.

Those who choose to collect and store their baby’s cord blood have a form of insurance, should their child or another closely related family member fall ill. Today, approximately 2.6 percent of American births result in the storing of cord blood.

How to Collect Cord Blood During Your Surrogacy

Before you take any steps to collect and store blood from the umbilical cord and placenta, it’s critical that you speak with your surrogate about your plans. While the process of collecting is quick and non-invasive, you will need your surrogate’s permission to collect cells that have come from her own body — even if the cells are genetically related to your own child.

In general, the process of collecting cord blood takes about five minutes. A doctor will either use a syringe to draw blood from the umbilical cord just after it has been cut, or the umbilical cord will be elevated to drain the blood into the bag. Any collection of cord blog must be done during the 15 minutes following birth and will need to be processed within 48 hours — which is why it’s important that parents to make a decision far in advance of their surrogate’s birth.

After collection, the cord blood will be registered to the parents’ names and sent to a blood bank for storage. These facilities should be accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks to ensure they properly store stem cells.

Is Private Bank Storage the Best Path for You?

Before you decide to store cord blood and stem cells with a private bank, there are a few things to consider.

The costs of storing cord blood can be expensive. For example, blood bank Americord offers 20 years of storage for $3,499, while FamilyCord offers the same for $4,290. Generally, the costs can come out to about $100 to $300 a year for storage, depending on the professional you use. Before choosing this path, it’s important that parents consider the financial aspect involved. Keep in mind that the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation estimates that the chances of a child using their own cord blood later to be only about .04 percent.

Many groups have released statements advocating for public bank donation instead of private banking. You can choose to donate your child’s cord blood for free to a public bank. Should stem cells become necessary later in life, the chance of finding a match through a public bank is very high — about 66 to 97 percent. If your child does not need their stem cells, a public bank donation gives you the chance to save someone else’s life instead.

If you’re considering banking or donating cord blood and stem cells, we encourage you to discuss your options with your surrogate, her obstetrician and your pediatrician. Your decision should only be made after consulting all parties and weighing your pros and cons. Your surrogacy specialist can always refer you to trusted blood banks for more information about this process.

How Exactly Does the Egg Retrieval Process Work in IVF?

If you have to create a fresh embryo for your transfer cycle for surrogacy, you may wonder exactly how an egg cell is obtained. While it’s fairly obvious how a sperm sample is gathered for the in vitro fertilization process, harvesting an egg is more complicated.

Whether you are asking this question because your own egg will be harvested for a transfer cycle, or you will be using a donor egg for your fresh embryo, it’s important to understand every procedure of the surrogacy process. Remember, your reproductive endocrinologist can best explain what this process will look like for you.

Every egg retrieval may look slightly different based on the circumstances of the surrogacy and egg donor involved but, medically speaking, there are a few universal steps involved.

1. Stimulate the Ovaries.

A woman’s ovaries naturally produce one egg each menstrual cycle. However, because the egg harvesting process is so invasive, fertility specialists want to harvest more than one egg during each procedure and maximize chances of a successful pregnancy. In order to do that, a woman must take fertility medication to put her ovaries into hyper-drive, so that multiple eggs can be harvested at once.

There are a few drugs that women can take to stimulate ovaries — known as “follicle stimulating hormone” — but one of the most common is Lupron. In fact, this is the drug that prospective surrogates often must take, as well, even if they are just a gestational carrier.

At the same time that her ovaries are undergoing stimulation, a woman must also take other drugs to suppress ovulation and cause final maturation of the eggs. Once the eggs are ready, a fertility specialist will trigger ovulation and final maturation with the hormone hCG.

2. Monitor Follicle (Egg Structure) Size.

Before ovulation can occur, a fertility specialist will monitor the ovarian stimulation process. Each fertility clinic has its own regulations for the number of eggs needed and their desired size before the retrieval procedure can occur. Specialists will also monitor statistics like blood hormone levels, estrogen levels and estradiol levels.

In general, the ovarian stimulating process takes about 8-10 days.

3. Stimulate Ovulation with hCG.

Once the eggs are deemed ready for harvest, a woman is given an hCG injection. This stimulates ovulation and induces the final egg maturation. The actual egg retrieval process will be completed about 35 hours after the injection and right before the woman’s body begins to release the eggs.

4. Retrieve the Eggs.

A woman must be placed under anesthesia to harvest her eggs. Because the procedure is invasive, the anesthesia prevents her from feeling pain and discomfort.

Once she is asleep, medical professionals pass a needle through the top of the vagina to get to the ovary and the follicles. The needle sucks the eggs from the follicle wall and out of the ovary, and the surrounding fluid follows shortly after. The eggs are then taken to the in vitro fertilization lab where the eggs are identified, rinsed, and placed in small culture dishes. From there, the eggs are protected in incubators until they are ready for the in vitro fertilization process and eventual embryo transfer.

Typically, medical professionals will retrieve an average of 8-12 eggs during each procedure, which takes about 10 minutes. A woman will likely experience mild to moderate cramping after.

What’s Next — IVF

Typically, harvested eggs are put together with sperm about four hours after retrieval, but each clinic’s procedures vary. After a certain amount of time, the eggs are checked for fertilization and, if they have successfully been fertilized, they are cultured and monitored until they are ready to be transferred into the uterus.

If the in vitro fertilization process is occurring for surrogacy, the surrogate will be taking fertility medication to sync up her cycle with that of the egg donor or intended mother. Then, when the embryos are ready, she will undergo the transfer at the intended parents’ fertility clinic. She can remain awake during the procedure, which is fairly quick and painless. For surrogacy with a frozen embryo that has already been created, egg harvesting is not necessary, although a surrogate will still take preparatory medication.

Of course, every egg retrieval process is unique, and it’s important that you speak with your medical professional for more information on the procedures awaiting you. If you’re not sure whether you will require a fresh embryo in your surrogacy process, we encourage you to speak with a surrogacy clinic.

For more information on the surrogacy process in general, please contact our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).