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.