Will Being a Surrogate Affect Your Job?

If you’re thinking about being a gestational surrogate, you’ve probably thought about a lot: how your pregnancy will affect your body and mind, how your family will feel, whether you’re ready for the challenges ahead.

But, have you thought about how being a surrogate may affect your job?

Just like being pregnant with your own child, being pregnant with an intended parent’s child will require a great deal of time and energy from you. As you focus on a healthy pregnancy and strong relationship with your intended parents, you will also need to focus on your everyday family and career responsibilities. It’s easy to forget how much pregnancy can affect your career, but it’s an important thing to think about before starting down this path.

We encourage you to talk in depth with your surrogacy specialist about how surrogacy may impact your job. Remember, we’re always available to talk at 1-800-875-2229(BABY). In the meantime, keep reading to prepare yourself for how surrogacy may affect your career.

The Challenges of Surrogate Pregnancy

As you know, pregnancy takes a great deal of energy and effort. Keeping yourself healthy during nine months — while simultaneously managing your everyday responsibilities — can quickly take a toll on your body and mind.

How much your career will be affected will depend on a few things. First, how much physical and mental energy does your job take? If you are in a position that requires a great deal of physical movement, you will have to cut back on your responsibilities while pregnant. This, in turn, may affect your work performance. While there are legal protections for working while pregnant, you should still think hard about how your pregnancy may affect your current and future pay — and whether your family can afford that while you are pregnant.

At the same time, you may be required to take time off work for important appointments and meetings. For example, you may need to travel to the intended parents’ clinic for your embryo transfer. That may require you to take a few days off work. Do you have the time off you need, or can you afford to take a hit to your paycheck for those few days?

Breaking the News to Your Boss

As you prepare to take time off of work, you’ll eventually need to speak with your supervisor. Not only will you need to take time off for the embryo transfer process, but you’ll also need to take maternity leave for your delivery and postpartum recovery. While there shouldn’t be any difference in time off for a gestational pregnancy or a pregnancy of your own, you’ll still need to keep your boss in the loop as early as possible.

How much detail you share with your supervisor will be up to you. It’s a good idea to explain that you are carrying a gestational pregnancy to avoid misinformation spreading around the office. This is also a good time to mention that you will likely be taking a shorter maternity leave because you won’t have a child to look after.

Before you meet with your supervisor, you might want to review your company policies or talk to your human resources manager. That way, you will be as informed as possible about your maternity leave policy and know what to expect in your conversation.

What to Say to Coworkers

If you plan to work through your pregnancy, you’ll also need to think about your conversations with your coworkers. You won’t be able to keep your pregnancy a secret but, if you keep secret the fact that the baby is not yours, you may find yourself facing some uncomfortable situations — congratulations or even a work baby shower.

As always, how much you decide to share about your surrogacy journey will always be up to you. When explaining your decision to be a surrogate, you might take this opportunity to answer your coworkers’ questions — or you might simply give only the information they need. It is your decision. But, if you feel comfortable doing so, telling your coworkers about your surrogacy allows you to educate others and clear up some of the misconceptions that still exist.

Of course, you will likely need to keep your coworkers updated about your plans for time off and maternity leave. This way, you will ensure that your responsibilities are covered while you are gone.

Maternity Leave

While you will likely take less time to recover from a gestational pregnancy than a pregnancy of your own (because you won’t be caring for a newborn at home), you will still need to take some time off after delivery. Fortunately, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects your ability to have 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave for the birth of a child.

However, before becoming a surrogate, think about how your maternity leave may affect your family’s financial situation. Can you afford to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave? Do you want to use your paid vacation for your recovery period? Will your surrogate base compensation provide enough to support your family during this time?

While it may not be something at the top of your mind when you first become a surrogate, your career should play a role in deciding whether this is the right time for this journey or not. If you’re not sure how your job will affect being a surrogate, or you want to learn more about the demands of surrogacy, don’t hesitate to contact our surrogacy specialists today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

Surrogacy Medication: Advice from a Former Surrogate

Every gestational surrogate’s medications and timeline will vary somewhat, depending on what a fertility clinic prescribes. Still, most women who are thinking about becoming surrogates want to know what that medical process is like — including side effects from medications, the types of medications they might have to take, and more.

Here, Chelsea, a former American Surrogacy surrogate, explains the surrogacy medications she took, some tricks she found helpful, and more:

Chelsea’s Medication Experience

The first medication that the clinics will generally put you on is birth control pills. Even people who have their tubes tied are required to use this. This helps the clinic manipulate your cycle to line up with your transfer date. They’re very precise and tell you when to begin the pills and when to discontinue them.

Next, I was on Lupron. The needle size didn’t faze me at all. It was an easy shot to take, and one or two equated to the feeling of a bee sting. I was on this for 26 days. The Lupron did give me some killer headaches. I wanted to stay in a dark room, and I was very sensitive to sounds. Drinking a lot of water helps.

After 12 days, I began taking estrogen, as well. I took estrogen in the form of Estrace pills (two pills, twice a day) and an estrogen patch called a Vivelle Dot. I switched this patch every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They leave behind a lot of sticky residue that is impossible to clean off. I had sticky marks until I was done with my meds at 14 weeks. The estrogen caused a lot of discharge. I had even emailed the clinic about it at one point to make sure it was normal.

My clinic was stricter about monitoring so, on day 22, I was required to have my ultrasound and blood work done at the clinic. This was the only ultrasound and blood work I had during the cycle. They checked my ovaries to make sure they were “quiet” and checked my uterine lining. I was good to go at 8mm. Then, they checked my blood estrogen level.

I began taking progesterone five days before transfer. This lines up with the age of the embryo(s). The needle is quite large: 22-gauge. This is due to the fact that it’s an intramuscular injection. You really only feel that initial poke; the length of the needle isn’t felt. The size of the hole of the needle is because the medication is in oil (sesame, olive, ethyl oleate). I actually had to switch from sesame to ethyl oleate after weeks on the injections because you can develop a delayed allergic reaction, which was a large rash in my case.

Some tips for this medication:

  • Warm the vial in your bra, on a heating pad or in your hands prior to injection. The oil is thick, so warming it helps inject easier.
  • Rub the area after injection thoroughly. The oil needs to be dispersed. I was on 2cc of PIO (progesterone-in-oil) so it was quite a large amount to put into the muscle daily.
  • You will develop lumps so massage, massage, massage. (Yes, rub your butt!)

I used a cheap Walmart drawer container to store my medications. I’m very type A, and it helped organize things. I was constantly getting new shipments and refilling it. I also downloaded blank calendar pages to fill in what medications I took each day. I marked them off as I took them. It was taped to my bathroom mirror.

All of these medications need to be taken at the same time every day. So, if you have a job, plan to take them when you know you will be home!

We’re so grateful to Chelsea for sharing her experiences and advice with future surrogates and for being such a great ambassador for American Surrogacy! If you’d like to talk to Chelsea about what it’s like to be a surrogate with American Surrogacy, contact us now at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

How to Honor Your Intended Mother on Mother’s Day

6 Things Surrogates Can Do to Make Their Intended Mother Feel Appreciated

By helping your intended mother to become a mom through surrogacy in the first place, you’re already giving her the best gift possible. Want to make sure she feels included in the “mom club” with some extra gestures? That’s fine, too — go ahead and share the love! Just remember that what you’re already doing is incredible.

Here are six ways you can show your intended mother-to-be some additional Mother’s Day appreciation, if you’re so inclined:

1. Send a Card or a Text

Send her an almost-first Mother’s Day card or a text telling her why you picked her to be your intended mother and the reasons why you think she’s going to be a great mom. If this is her first child, she may be feeling nervous right now. Some encouragement from you can be great to hear.

2. Call Her

Having a long-distance surrogacy partnership can be tough, but a quick phone or video call to wish her a “Happy Mother’s Day” can let her know you’re thinking of her. Check in, catch up, ask how she’s feeling, and let her know what a great mom she’s going to be. This is extra fun if you currently have a baby bump that she can “say hello” to.

3. Get a Small Gift

If you’re the type of person who loves giving gifts, and if you (and your surrogate specialist) think it’s appropriate in your surrogacy relationship, go ahead! Some ideas:

  • A stuffed animal or blanket for the baby, which can also be used to help with emotional transfer
  • A framed photo of you and the intended parents, or a sonogram.
  • A meaningful piece of jewelry or keepsake.

4. Involve Her in Your Experiences

Nothing says motherhood like watching your child’s every move, right? Even if you’re in a long-distance surrogacy partnership, invite her to doctor’s appointments whenever she’s able to come, and send texts letting her know how you’re feeling and giving updates about the baby’s progress if you’re pregnant at this point.

5. Spend Some Time Together

If you’re both able to, invite her out to lunch, go out for a spa afternoon, or just have her over for a cup of tea and a chat. It can be nice to get to know each other outside of your “surrogate” and “intended parent” roles. She might appreciate some of the conversation and focus being shifted away from you and onto her for a bit. Treat her like a new friend, and you might find that you have one!

6. Keep Doing What You’re Doing!

If you’d like to do something special for your intended mother, that’s wonderful. However, what you’re doing for her right now is already the most amazing thing you could do for anyone.

You are making an entire lifetime of future Mother’s Days possible for her. Let that sink in, and take a moment to be proud of yourself for that. She’s certainly aware of it.

Continuing to take care of yourself and her baby (if you’re already pregnant) will be a great gift to her.

Not sure how to address Mother’s Day as a gestational surrogate? You can always ask your American Surrogacy specialist for advice by calling 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

Feeling Depressed During Your Surrogate Pregnancy?

It’s no secret — pregnancy is hard. You are often emotionally and physically exhausted along the way, and it’s completely normal for you to experience feelings of sadness, anger or frustration during these nine months. In most cases, those hard parts are all worth it when you get to bring your little one home.

But, in surrogacy, it’s a bit of a different situation. All of the discomfort that you go through during your pregnancy is to help someone else become a parent. While you are probably just as excited for them to meet their baby as you were to meet yours once upon a time, it can also cast a different shade on the emotions that you feel during your pregnancy.

It’s 100 percent normal to have conflicting feelings while you are pregnant with your intended parents’ baby. Remember that your surrogacy specialist will be there for you whenever you need her support, and she can guide you through the more difficult emotions of your surrogacy, if you need it.

But, how do you know when your pregnancy feelings are a sign of something more serious? Is it possible to experience depression during pregnancy, instead of the postpartum depression you hear more about?

The answer is yes. Learn more about this important topic below.

Why You May Be Depressed as a Surrogate

There are many reasons why women experience confusing feelings of sadness, grief, frustration and more during pregnancy. This process requires a lot from a woman, and she may often feel like her experience is not validated by those who have never been through the pregnancy journey themselves. She may be tired from the everyday responsibilities she usually deals with, and the stressors of pregnancy only exacerbate those challenges.

A surrogate pregnancy often causes the same emotions, but they are compounded by the fact that a pregnant woman is not carrying a child for herself — but for someone else. While this can actually be a source of relief for some surrogates, it can make things more emotionally complicated for others. A woman may feel even worse knowing that she is struggling through all these challenges without a “tangible” end result for her family (aside from surrogate compensation).

It can also be grating for a surrogate to hear the same insensitive comments and questions over and over during her pregnancy, or to feel like her family is losing out on time together during her later stages of her pregnancy. There is no “right” or “wrong” reason for you to feel depressed or upset during pregnancy; it all depends on your personal situation.

Signs of Antenatal Depression

While it’s 100 percent normal to experience “baby blues” both before and after pregnancy, there can come a point where the normal sad feelings of pregnancy become something more. Just as you should when you were pregnant with own child, you should pay close attention to your mental health during your surrogate pregnancy, too.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms for two weeks or longer, it’s a sign that something may not be right with your mental health:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Recurring thoughts of death, suicide or hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest in activities that you usually enjoy
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Change in eating habits

If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or the child you are carrying, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline right away: 1-800-273-8255.

What to Do Next

If you think you are coping with depression during your surrogate pregnancy, a lot of thoughts may go through your head. In addition to worrying about your own family, you may also worry about how the intended parents will react to this news. You may worry that they’ll blame you or that this situation will irreparably harm your relationship.

The only thing that you should be concerned with right now is your mental health and the health of the child growing inside of you. Do not hide what you are feeling for fear of backlash from your intended parents; they only want what is best for you, which means getting you the help you need during this vulnerable time. You are not alone; statistics suggest that between 14 and 23 percent of women suffer from some form of depression during pregnancy.

Your first point of contact if you are worried about your potential for antenatal depression will always be your doctor. They can test your physical status to ensure there are no underlying physical conditions that may be causing these symptoms. Your doctor is also the only one who can diagnose clinical antenatal depression.

Whether you are diagnosed with clinical depression or not, remember that your surrogacy specialist is always here to support you, and that your feelings are still just as real. Our specialists are very aware of the emotions that gestational carriers go through, and they know that surrogacy is not always easy. You should never feel afraid to reach out to your specialist, whatever your situation, because she can help you get the support you need during this time. She can also help mediate a conversation with your intended parents about your feelings, if necessary.

No two pregnancies are the same, but feelings of depression during pregnancy are more common than you may think. Whatever your situation, you deserve to get the help you need during this time to keep yourself and the baby inside of you healthy and happy.

Managing Money Issues as an Independent Surrogate

For many, finances are a taboo topic. It’s tough enough to talk about them seriously with your loved ones and immediate family — so how do you get comfortable enough to talk about this topic with people you’ve just met?

Talking about finances and surrogate compensation with your intended parents can be an awkward conversation, but it’s a necessary one to have. A professional can help mediate these conversations in an agency-assisted surrogacy but, in an independent surrogacy, you will likely be on your own.

So, how do you talk about finances with your intended parents? How do you make sure you get paid on time and are not held responsible for any of your surrogacy costs?

It’s important to be aware of the financial aspects of an independent surrogacy journey before you even get started. That’s why we’ve tackled some of the biggest topics below. Remember that our surrogacy specialists are always available to discuss private surrogacy vs. agency-assisted surrogacy and explain how our services can make your financial matters a little easier.

Being Your Own Financial Advocate

When you are an independent surrogate, you will be responsible for a great deal of coordination and communication between professionals. You will be the one to find your surrogacy match, make sure your goals and interests align, and continue the relationship for the remainder of the journey. As part of this, you will also be responsible for your own financial matters.

There are a lot of complicated things that go into surrogacy finances. You will need to be familiar with and manage:

From the very beginning of your journey, you will be responsible for keeping track of these expenses and notifying your intended parents when payment or reimbursement is due. Because you are the one who is pregnant, all of your medical bills will come to you, and you’ll need to take the extra step to get that information to your intended parents. Otherwise, you will be the one who is held financially responsible.

Discussing Sensitive Financial Issues

In an ideal situation, intended parents are up-to-date on the latest surrogacy charges and handle them quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, not all intended parents are timely and organized. There is always the possibility that bills will go unpaid or you will be waiting for reimbursement for longer than you anticipate. Usually, these situations aren’t a result of intended parents trying to avoid their responsibilities, but they can hurt your family’s financial situation all the same.

Because you will ultimately be the one responsible for making sure you get paid or your bills are covered, you will need to be ready to have some difficult conversations with your intended parents, if this situation arises. You cannot just avoid the tough parts of your finance discussion; that will leave you responsible for the costs of surrogacy, which should never be the case.

Know that a lot of your financial matters will be detailed in your surrogacy contract. But, if things do not go according to your contract, you will need to step up to confront your intended parents about their responsibilities, no matter how close your personal relationship is.

Deciding What is Right for You

For some surrogates, an independent surrogacy journey is an easy path. They are comfortable discussing financial matters with their intended parents and making sure that they get the financial compensation they deserve.

For other surrogates, an independent surrogacy causes a great deal of financial and emotional stress. When you’re working so closely with your intended parents, it’s natural to develop a deep friendship. But, when this happens, many surrogates feel guilty about asking for money and reimbursement, just as they would feel uncomfortable asking for the same thing from their close friends and family. This can quickly get them into financial trouble if their family is depending on the surrogate compensation to make up for lost wages and other financial burdens related to the pregnancy.

Before you decide to become an independent surrogate, you should be 100 percent confident that you can handle money matters in a professional, non-confrontational and confident way. You will have no one to rely on but you, and that’s a big responsibility.

If you are not ready for this kind of responsibility, that’s okay — surrogacy agencies such as American Surrogacy are here to help. When you work with an agency, your surrogacy specialist will handle all of these matters for you. They will focus on ensuring your medical and surrogacy costs are always covered and that you receive the base compensation you are entitled to. You will only have to focus on a healthy pregnancy and maintaining a positive relationship with your intended parents.

Want to learn more about the pros and cons of an independent surrogacy journey? Feel free to reach out to our agency at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) to speak to a specialist today.

Determining Your Future Relationship with Your Surro-Baby

When you’re thinking about becoming a surrogate, there are a lot of resources out there about creating a positive, lasting relationship with your intended parents — and that’s important! But, there may be another relationship you haven’t thought a lot about.

If you haven’t asked yourself this question yet, do so now: What kind of future relationship do I want to have with the child that I carry?

Being a child’s gestational carrier is a decision that will impact you and the child forever. It’s not something you can just ignore or pretend didn’t happen, and you shouldn’t! It’s something that you should celebrate for years to come. For many gestational carriers, that involves having a personal relationship with the child they give birth to.

If you’re like most gestational carriers, you don’t have any experience with this kind of relationship. Don’t worry — American Surrogacy is here to help. Our surrogacy specialists can answer any question you may have about your future surrogacy relationship to help you be as prepared as possible before the baby is born.

To start, there are four important questions you’ll need to ask yourself:

1. What Kind of Role Do I Want to Serve in My Surro-Baby’s Life?

When it comes to the role that gestational carriers play in the lives of children they give birth to, the options are endless. Some surrogates and intended parents mutually end their relationship after the baby is delivered, while some stay in close contact for years to come, treating each other as extended family.

As a surrogate, you have a big decision to make. You will need to decide what kind of role you want to play in your surro-baby’s life. And, you’ll need to decide this long before the baby is even born.

Perhaps you want to be the cool aunt-like figure. Maybe you want to be an older mentor. Or, you may just want to be available to answer whatever questions the child may have as they grow up. Whatever you want, determining your role will always be up to you!

2. What About My Relationship with the Intended Parents?

It’s important to remember that if you want to have a relationship with the child you give birth to, you will also need to be comfortable with a relationship with their parents, too. After all, a small child can’t exactly manage a relationship on their own!

When you’re thinking about your future relationship with your surro-baby, take into account the relationship you have now and plan to have in the future with your intended parents. Not every surrogacy contract will detail this relationship ahead of time, but it’s a good thing to talk about with your intended parents early on in your journey. Of course, relationships ebb and flow over time, but setting up basic expectations (in-person visits, texts, emails, pictures, etc.) can help make the transition from surrogacy partners to lifelong friends a little easier.

Your intended parents may also have a preference for the future relationship their child has with you. You will need to respect those wishes, which is why being aware of them earlier rather than later can be so helpful.

3. How Will Distance and Time Play Into Things?

As you likely know, any long-term relationship requires a lot of work and commitment. If you and your intended parents live far apart, you will need to put in extra effort to maintain that relationship throughout the child’s upbringing, if you want to be a part of their life.

Keep in mind that life situations can change. You or the intended parents may move, or certain circumstances may occur that make it difficult for your relationship to continue. When going into a post-surrogacy relationship, know that you can’t predict the future, but you can plan for it. Think about how you will maintain a relationship when things get tough. You may even want to write a letter to your surro-baby when they are old enough to read it — just in case you can’t have the relationship you originally aspire for.

Remember that it’s completely normal for relationships to change over time, and it’s important to expect that in your surrogacy relationship, as well.

4. How Do I Decide What’s Right for Me?

It can be overwhelming to think so far in the future about a relationship that may or may not be. After all, it will often be up to the child born via surrogacy if they want to maintain a relationship with the woman who gave birth to them. Trying to decide what kind of relationship you want with them years in advance can be nerve-wracking.

Like with all relationships, you can’t predict the future this relationship. You can only hope. To help you decide what kind of relationship you want with this child, talk at length with your surrogacy specialist. They can provide examples of other relationships to help you figure out what is right for you. Of course, include the intended parents in your conversation, as well. You can all craft the perfect relationship goals together and figure out what is best for your surrogacy partnership.

Should You Be a Compensated or Altruistic Surrogate?

When you decide to become a surrogate, there is a lot you have to consider. You have to make many decisions during your surrogacy journey — some of which are early decisions which will impact how your entire surrogacy proceeds. In addition to deciding to be a traditional or gestational carrier or to work with a short-distance or long-distance intended parent, you will also need to decide whether you wish to be compensated for your services.

As a surrogate, you will always have the right to receive compensation for your services, as long as your state laws allow for it. You should never feel forced into an altruistic surrogacy, whatever your circumstances. Being a surrogate is not easy, so you deserve to receive a surrogate base compensation if it’s something you are interested in.

But, what if you’re really on the fence about this decision? How do you choose the path that is right for you?

Below, you’ll find some helpful information to assist in your decision-making process. Remember: Your surrogacy specialist is always here to answer your questions about surrogate compensation. For personal assistance, please call our agency at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

4 Things to Consider About Each Path

Ultimately, you are the only one who can decide whether becoming a compensated or altruistic surrogacy is best for you. There is no shame in choosing one over the other. Plenty of women have had successful compensated and altruistic surrogacy journeys; it’s all about making sure you are choosing the right path for the right reason.

If you’re not sure which is best for you and your family, we encourage you to think long and hard about these four topics first.

1. Your Family’s Feelings and Financial Situation

While you are the one making a choice to become a surrogate, remember that your decision will impact the rest of your immediate family, as well. When you’re a gestational carrier, you have to give up a great deal of your time and energy to have a healthy pregnancy and maintain a relationship with your intended parents. This means that your time with your family may be impacted and you may not be able to take on the responsibilities you usually do for your family.

Logistically, becoming a surrogate may make things much more difficult for your family’s schedule. Even though your surrogacy contract will cover such things as wages from lost work and childcare expenses when necessary, your decision to become a surrogate can still cause unforeseen financial (and emotional) challenges for your family. Will your family be upset at all the time and effort you are putting into another family to receive nothing in return?

Before deciding to become an altruistic surrogate, you should talk at length with your spouse and a financial planner. It’s important to be aware of your current financial state before making this big decision.

2. Small Costs Along the Way

While a woman will never have to pay for becoming a surrogate, there may be small, unanticipated costs along the way. For example, even though your intended parents will pay for your long-distance travel costs, traveling back and forth to appointments will require you to pay for gas and put wear-and-tear on your car, which can lead to more costs later on — even after your surrogacy journey is over. Similarly, if you are busy all day doing surrogacy things, you may not have the time to have home-cooked meals as usual and find your family eating out more and spending more money.

Your surrogacy specialist and your lawyer will work with you to cover necessary expenses, but small personal costs do tend to pop up for gestational carriers. If you are being compensated for your services, those costs won’t be as big of a deal as if you were a surrogate altruistically.

3. How You May Feel as a Surrogate

If you’ve never been through the surrogacy process before, it’s easy to imagine that the next year or so will be a happy time when everything goes according to plan. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Being a gestational carrier can put you through some serious mental, physical and emotional stressors, and your mental and physical health can be impacted. If you are not receiving any kind of compensation for your surrogacy services, you may start to feel taken advantage of or not appreciated when you think of everything you are going through for your intended parents.

Of course, not every surrogate feels this way, but if you’ve never done an altruistic surrogacy before, there is a degree of uncertainty. Consider talking to other altruistic surrogates to learn more about what this journey is like to ensure that it really is the best choice for you.

4. Why You are Considering Each Path

Surrogates often become close with their intended parents, and a surrogate would often do a great deal to help make her intended parents’ surrogacy journey a little easier. In some cases, this means considering an altruistic surrogacy to save the intended parents a little bit of money.

There’s nothing wrong with taking this path, but we encourage prospective surrogates to choose an altruistic surrogacy only after they are 100 percent comfortable with what it means for them. You should never feel pressured into an altruistic surrogacy, even by a friend or family member. You should only become an altruistic surrogate if it’s a path you are excited for. If you waive your right to surrogate base compensation because of your intended parents and without recognizing your true feelings on the issue, it’s more likely that this choice will cause emotional difficulties in your relationship later on.

If your intended parents have asked you to carry for them altruistically, and you’re not sure whether it’s the right choice for you, please reach out to your surrogacy specialist today. She can discuss the pros and cons of each option in depth with you to help you make the best choice for yourself and your family.

What to Do When Your Intended Parents Ask You To Carry Again

Surrogacy is a beautiful journey — so much so that some intended parents decide to do it all over again! When you’re a surrogate, you may be surprised to find yourself contacted months or even years after you give birth, with your intended parents asking you a question: Will you be our surrogate again?

If the prospect of a sibling journey was never mentioned in your first surrogacy, you may be a bit caught off-guard. Maybe surrogacy was a one-time thing for you and your family, and you’ve never thought about doing it again. Maybe you’re not ready for another journey, but now you feel pressured into one because of the people that you care about so much.

So, what do you do when your intended parents ask you about carrying for them again? While many women see it as an honor to be asked about a sibling journey, it’s just as important to evaluate the pros and cons of this process as you did when you first became a surrogate. Even though the intended parents may be the same in a certain surrogacy situation, many other factors are unique and should be dutifully considered before moving forward.

Remember, your surrogacy specialist is always available to help you navigate these conversations when they arise. Don’t be afraid to reach out to our agency for guidance if you are asked about a sibling journey — whatever your personal feelings may be.

Is This Something You are Prepared and Ready for?

It’s easy to feel pressured into a sibling journey when your intended parents ask you to carry again. If they’re asking, odds are they had a positive enough relationship with you during the first journey to want to repeat it again. They probably already trust you and care for you, and they want to repeat the same positive experience they had with their first child born via surrogacy.

If you had a similarly positive experience, you may initially feel the same way about carrying for them again. But, just because you’ve carried for a couple once doesn’t mean a second journey is an automatic guarantee. Just as you had to during your first surrogacy journey, you will still need to meet specific requirements and ensure you (and your family) are ready to embark on this journey again. Just because you have been a surrogate before doesn’t mean that you can automatically become a surrogate this time around.

If your intended parents were the ones who reached out to you, it’s possible that you hadn’t considered becoming a surrogate for them again. Before you engage in this conversation, you can always call your surrogacy specialist for more details about how this journey will work.

You will also want to ask yourself these questions:

If you’re having trouble deciding whether or not being a surrogate again is right for you, call your surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) for counseling.

How a Sibling Journey May Be Different

While the relationship parts of a sibling surrogacy journey may certainly be easier than in your first surrogacy journey, that doesn’t mean that every part of your second surrogacy will be as easy or uncomplicated as the first. On the contrary, carrying for someone you already know can come with new complexities that may not have ever crossed your mind.

Some of these difficulties come from the assumptions that many intended parents make when they work with the same surrogate for the second time. They may assume that you are okay with the same travel schedule, contact preferences, surrogate compensation and more. It can be uncomfortable for you if your preferences have changed and you want a slightly different journey; you may be afraid asking for those changes shows that you are “ungrateful” for or were unhappy in your previous journey.

But, the fact is, no matter how long it’s been between surrogacy journeys, things are different. You are older, and your family situation may require more of you with older children and more responsibilities. You may not be as clinically “healthy” for pregnancy as you were before; getting pregnant may not be easy (or even possible) like it was before.

Even after you start a sibling journey, the expectations you and your intended parents have may lull you into a sense of security. If things don’t go as they did during your first surrogacy, it can be uncomfortable and scary. In the worst case scenario, the positive relationship you had in your first surrogacy can quickly deteriorate should something unfortunate happen in your sibling journey.

Remember: Every surrogacy is unique, even if the partners involved are the same. Therefore, every journey must be treated as so.

Don’t Be Afraid of Saying “No”

When intended parents approach you about carrying a sibling for their first child born via surrogacy, you’ll probably feel a lot of emotions. You may even feel guilty if you are not open to this idea — and that you’ll have to let your intended parents down by rejecting their proposal.

Remember this: You are never obligated to become a surrogate for anyone, no matter your personal history. Being a surrogate is a great commitment, and it’s important that you and your family are 100 percent comfortable before agreeing to this journey. When you signed up to become a surrogate the first time, you were only obligating yourself to one surrogacy journey. Your intended parents should respect that.

Saying “no” can be hard, but it is important that you advocate for yourself. Make sure to emphasize how honored you are by the intended parents approaching you, but be strong and clear about how becoming a surrogate is not in the cards for your life at this time. Your intended parents should understand. If you have trouble navigating this conversation, your surrogacy specialist will be there to help.

Whatever you end up deciding when it comes to a sibling surrogacy journey, remember that it is your decision alone. You are always the one who knows what is best for you and your family.

What to Expect at the First OB Visit in Your Surrogacy

Prior to your surrogate’s first visit with her obstetrician (OB), she and you will have primarily worked with your fertility clinic, which will be very familiar with the surrogacy process. But your surrogate’s OB may have never experienced a surrogate pregnancy before and may not know what to expect. You and your surrogate may not know what to expect, either!

We know how confusing this time can be, which is why we’ve answered some of your biggest questions about prenatal appointments in gestational surrogacy journeys below.

What the Average OB Experience Is Like

The first OB visit generally occurs between 8 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. The surrogacy process won’t affect this first OB visit much, although the doctor may ask a few questions about gamete donors, if applicable.

If you’ve never experienced one before, a prenatal visit can be a little scary. Here’s what happens in the standard first trip to an OB for surrogates, depending on the week of pregnancy and the doctor’s recommendations:

  • The surrogate’s health and vitals will be checked, and she’ll be asked a lot of questions to make sure her first trimester is going well so far.
  • Your surrogate may receive a full physical, so you’ll need to step out and give her some privacy.
  • Your surrogate will have her blood drawn to test for fetal abnormalities.
  • There may also be a urine test, a pap smear, or other tests to check fetal and maternal health.
  • A transvaginal ultrasound may be performed to evaluate early development.
  • You may be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
  • The doctor will review the next steps and schedule the next routine appointment.
  • You and your surrogate will sign a lot of paperwork, usually HIPPA consent forms to release medical information. Most of this paperwork will be completed by your gestational carrier.

The first visit to the OB consists mostly of the doctor asking questions, some of which may be rendered inapplicable as a result of the surrogacy process. This is usually an exciting time for surrogates and intended parents alike, so enjoy the moment together!

How to Prepare for Your Surrogate’s First OB Appointment

These five steps may help you navigate your first visit together at the OB:

Step 1: Jointly Decide How Much You’ll Participate in Your Surrogate’s Pregnancy

You’ve probably already talked about this when you created your surrogacy contract together, but you’ll need to have an honest conversation with your surrogate about how much of your involvement she feels comfortable with during the pregnancy and about how much you’d like to participate, if possible.

Not all intended parents accompany their surrogate to her first OB visit — maybe they’re unable to due to distance, or maybe the surrogate feels more comfortable going to this appointment without them. Regardless, you’ll have the rest of your child’s life to participate in important milestones, so missing the first OB visit certainly isn’t the end of the world.

Step 2: Talk to the OB Before the Visit

This may require leaving multiple messages, talking to several nurses and playing phone tag, but it’s important that everyone involved (especially the doctor who’ll be overseeing the surrogate’s care) knows about your surrogacy partnership, and is aware of everyone that will be attending the appointment. The OB may need to talk to the patient (your surrogate), as well as you, prior to this visit.

If they’re prepared for intended parents and the surrogate, plus her spouse (or whoever might be attending the doctor’s visit), then they’ll be better prepared to do their own job of walking you through what comes next in your surrogate’s pregnancy.

Step 3: Be Prepared for Some Insensitivity

Not everyone at the OB’s office will be aware of your surrogacy partnership. Even those who are aware may slip up and say things that are insensitive. Try to be patient and understand that out of the many pregnancies this office sees daily, surrogate pregnancies are rare.

Remember that you’re in this together with your surrogate. People may congratulate her on “her” baby or ask her unwelcome questions about surrogacy. Remember that both of you will likely be subject to uncomfortable moments, but that you’ll get through those moments together.

Step 4: Remember that Conflicting Feelings Aren’t Unusual for IPs

It’s not uncommon for intended parents to have complicated feelings throughout a surrogate pregnancy, and these feelings may be especially heightened at your first OB visit. You may:

  • Feel jealous that your surrogate is the one experiencing this visit with the doctor.
  • Grieve that you’re unable to carry your baby.
  • Be hurt or feel awkward when office staff ask questions or make assumptions about the baby’s genetic background.
  • Feel frustrated that you’re not in control of the pregnancy and your baby’s health and protection.
  • Be scared that you’ll lose the baby, especially if you have experienced previous pregnancy loss.

These types of emotions are usually coupled with the excitement, joy and nervousness that is typical of parents in an OB’s office. If you need to talk to someone, remember that you can always turn to your American Surrogacy specialist for support.

Step 5: Your Surrogate May Look to You

Surrogates have their own emotional support systems, but they’re doing this to complete your family. They want to make sure that you enjoy this appointment at the OB, too.

This appointment is a good opportunity for you to grow closer together and to remind your surrogate of how much you appreciate her and how much you’re looking forward to meeting your baby. Some ways to affirm your excitement to your surrogate can include:

  • Going out to lunch before or after your appointment together
  • Bringing her a little gift, like a card or a pregnancy pampering kit you put together
  • Giving her a hug
  • Taking a photo together to mark the occasion
  • Showing her something you plan to give to the baby, or telling her about name options
  • Or simply telling her how excited you are and how happy you are to have her in your life.

Seeing that you’re excited is what makes surrogacy worthwhile to surrogates!

Remember that if you have any questions about the medical processes of surrogacy, including the upcoming OB appointments, you can always call American Surrogacy at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

How Strict Are Surrogacy BMI Requirements?

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement of body fat based on your height and weight, taking into account whether the two are proportional. In surrogacy, almost all professionals will require that you fall within a certain BMI range in order to become a surrogate. This may seem like an insensitive requirement, but, like most rules, they’re there for an important reason.

Here’s what you should know about the BMI requirements for surrogates:

Why is a Surrogate’s BMI Important?

There are a number of reasons why a woman’s BMI is important to her eligibility as a surrogate.

  • A higher BMI has been associated with preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, pregnancy hypertension, an increased rate of cesarean section, postpartum hemorrhage and other pregnancy complications.
  • A higher BMI has been linked to complications with the baby after the birth.
  • A too-low BMI has been associated with an increased risk for preterm delivery and small-for-gestational-age (SGA) babies.
  • A too-high or too-low BMI takes longer for you to become pregnant — about twice as long if you have a higher BMI versus a healthy BMI. With surrogacy, time is literally money for the intended parents, because it means more embryo transfers.

These requirements can be frustrating for healthy women who don’t seem themselves as “malnourished” or “obese,” as the BMI index may label them, or who fall outside the required range for surrogates.

However, your BMI when you’re trying to become pregnant can directly affect your health and safety, the baby’s safety and the legal safety of the intended parents you’re hoping to help. By applying to become a surrogate, it can be assumed that you’re an incredibly loving and generous person who wants to help others. If you don’t meet the health requirements, you could put yourself and others at physical, emotional, financial or legal risk. So, to minimize the possibility of these risks as much as they can, surrogacy professionals establish rigorous health requirements for surrogates, like BMI.

What is the Typical BMI Requirement that a Surrogate Must Meet?

These can vary slightly from one surrogacy professional to the next. At American Surrogacy, we work with women who have a BMI of 19 to 32, based on the fertility clinic’s recommendations. This is what health professionals have determined to be a healthy BMI range for adults, so most surrogacy professionals stay within that range fairly closely.

Remember that the BMI requirement is just one of many requirements that prospective surrogates must meet. There are also emotional, legal and other health requirements that you’ll need to complete, which can vary slightly depending on the state you live in and the surrogacy professional you work with.

If you’re not sure if you meet the BMI requirements to become a surrogate, ask your surrogacy professional.

What Happens if a Surrogate Doesn’t Quite Meet the BMI Requirement?

While most of the health requirements are pretty strict for a very good reason, the BMI requirements may be a little more flexible, depending on the clinic you’re working with and your individual situation.

Many surrogacy agencies are adamant about their BMI requirements, but if you’re close to the target range, we tend to evaluate things on a case-by-case basis and will simply prioritize overall health.

American Surrogacy may work with women who have a BMI as high as 35, as long as the surrogate is in good health, meets the other requirements and her fertility clinic approves her. If her BMI is high, we usually ask that the surrogate start working to safely bring down her weight before she becomes pregnant, so that we can minimize health risks wherever possible.

So, if you’re close to the required BMI range for surrogacy but aren’t quite in the target range, don’t panic. Talk to an American Surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-2229 to see if you’d still qualify to become a surrogate, and talk to your doctor about creating a health plan to help get you closer to the ideal BMI range.