Should You Consider Embryo Donation After Surrogacy?

When you’re an intended parent, you will put a lot of thought into the surrogacy process. But, you may not consider what will happen when your surrogacy is complete. If you’re like many intended parents, you will have remaining embryos after your gestational carrier gives birth — and you’ll need to decide what to do with them.

There are generally three options for leftover embryos: to dispose of them, donate them to science, or donate them to another intended parent. Many intended parents choose a fourth “option” — to keep them in long-term storage indefinitely — but, as an intended parent, you will need to decide what to do with your embryos at some point. At American Surrogacy, we encourage our clients to think about this earlier rather than later.

In this article, we’ll talk about one of the most selfless and beautiful choices for your leftover IVF embryos: donating them to another intended parent. Understandably, many people have reservations about this process, so having the right information can help you make the best decision for your family.

Whether you’re seriously considering embryo donation or simply want to learn more, here are some things you should know:

Signs Embryo Donation is Right for You

Donating leftover embryos is not right for everyone — and that’s okay! When you donate an embryo to another couple, you are often giving a very personal gift to a complete stranger. It can be nerve-wracking to consider.

However, there are a few signs that it may be the right choice for you:

1. You want to help someone else become parents.

As an intended parent, you understand the struggle that people like you go through to have a child. If you decide to donate your embryos, you can make someone else’s parenthood journey a little easier. Donated embryos can be used to help an intended mother experience pregnancy, reduce the costs of IVF for those looking into surrogacy, and even help LGBT couples who can’t conceive an embryo on their own.

When you donate your embryos, you give these intended parents a new chance at building their family. The people who choose this path empathize with those in that situation, and they make the selfless choice to give the possibility of a child to those who want it most.

2. You are uncomfortable disposing of your embryos or keeping them in long-term storage.

While frozen embryos are in no way considered viable, some intended parent feel uncomfortable disposing of the promise their embryos could have. Whether or not they view them as “children,” some people don’t believe that discarding their embryos (or donating them to science) is ethical.

On the other hand, keeping them in long-term storage is not a viable option either. Sure, it may delay the decision you have to make, and it can keep your options open if you wish to have more children, but you will eventually need to decide what you wish to do with your embryos. Otherwise, this will be a decision made by your family members when you die.

Donating your embryos can give you control over their use and a sense of purpose that you may not feel otherwise.

3. You are comfortable with being an identified donor.

There’s one thing that you should know before donating your embryos: You are not “giving up your children.” Instead, you are giving the possibility of a child to someone else. If that embryo successfully implants and develops into a fetus, there will be a child with your genetic material out in the world. That’s why embryo donation is also called “embryo adoption.”

For this reason, the people who donate embryos with their genetic material are highly recommended (sometimes even required) to do so on an identified basis. That means, when the child is old enough, the embryo donors can be contacted by their biological son or daughter (or his or her parents) for more information about genetic history, siblings, etc. You will not be responsible for your biological child’s well-being, and you will likely not feel the same connection that a birth parent feels to their child in an adoption situation. However, you will have the responsibility to give your biological child the information they need as they grow up.

Signs Embryo Donation is Not Right for You

If you’re unsure about donating your embryos to someone else, that’s completely normal. You may have a few concerns about the process, which is why learning as much as possible will help you make the best choice for your family.

There are generally a few signs that embryo donation may not be the best route for your family:

1. Your embryos are not high-quality.

This reason goes without saying. If you have struggled to conceive yourself, and you’ve turned to surrogacy and transferred the best quality embryo, your remaining embryos likely weren’t quality enough to be used for your own surrogacy. Therefore, they shouldn’t be donated to another couple if they have a high chance of failure.

If your reproductive endocrinologist determines that your leftover embryos are too low quality for donation to other intended parents, consider donating them to science instead. That way, experts can study your embryos to advance future assisted reproduction techniques.

2. You are uncomfortable with someone else raising a child who is biologically related to you.

If your embryos are created from you and your spouse’s gametes, it may make you uncomfortable to donate a potential biological child to someone else. Even if you choose identified donation, you will not be actively involved in your biological child’s life. For some intended parents, this can be a deal-breaker when it comes to donation. It takes a special kind of person to give a biological child to someone else; not everyone can be an embryo donor or birth parent.

Consider talking to an identified donor bank to learn more about this process to see if your concerns clear up with more information. If they don’t, that’s okay — consider donating your embryos to science, where they will never reach the point of viability.

3. You would rather dispose of your embryos.

Deciding what to do with your leftover embryos is a tough choice. You may not like the uncertainty of long-term storage, and you may be uncomfortable with donating your genetic material and the unknowns that come with doing so. In your case, discarding your embryos may be the best solution.

Remember, choosing to discard your embryos doesn’t mean that you are destroying “children.” It is always up to you to decide whether you are personally comfortable with discarding your embryos, but know that they are not viable and will not develop into fetuses unless implanted in a uterus.

If you are ever unsure as to what to do with your leftover embryos, we encourage you to speak in depth with your reproductive endocrinologist. This may not be a decision that you make overnight, but having the proper information and understanding all of your options will help you to choose the path that is best for your family.

From Adoption to Surrogacy: Founder Scott Mars’ Story

Over the past five years, American Surrogacy has made great strides in helping intended parents and gestational carriers achieve their surrogacy dreams. We’ve brought more and more children into the world each year that our organization has been around, and we’re incredibly grateful to all those who have trusted our professionals with their surrogacy journey.

But, we’re also grateful to someone else: our founder Scott Mars. If it weren’t for him, American Surrogacy would not exist — and certainly not with its current focus and dedication. Scott Mars is the person who has made our agency what is today and what it will be for years to come.

But, who exactly is Scott Mars, and how did American Surrogacy come to be?

That’s a great question! To help you understand a bit more about American Surrogacy and our professionals, you need to first understand the story of our founder.

An Early Spark

If there’s one thing you should know about Scott Mars, it’s that he is an adoptee. When he was just 10 days old, his adoptive parents — Ted and Susan Mars — brought him into their family. The couple had tried for years to be pregnant and, after suffering several miscarriages, decided that private domestic infant adoption was the right path for them.

For Mars, adoption was a positive experience growing up. Although he had a closed adoption relationship with his birth parents, his adoptive parents celebrated his adoption story from an early age. He knew his birth parents had made their adoption decision out of love for him and how much their decision meant to his adoptive parents.

“Every day I realize how important I am to my parents. The fact that I was adopted doesn’t matter,” Mars says. “It is simply another way to become a parent.”

But, Scott Mars’ own adoption story wasn’t the only experience he had with alternative family-building methods growing up. After they adopted Scott, Mars’ parents became foster parents for temporary placements. Over the years, the Mars family would take in more than 140 infants who needed a temporary home. While the adjustment process wasn’t always easy, it was rewarding.

“My parents came to me and asked if I wanted to keep doing it, and I said absolutely — because we got to be a small part of these children’s lives,” Mars says.

While fostering was a fantastic experience for the Mars family, they felt like they had more to give — and felt like giving back to the process which had brought them together. So, when Scott Mars graduated from college in 1991, he and his parents began their own adoption agency. This organization would become American Adoptions, one of the largest and most successful private domestic adoption agencies in the country.

Today, American Adoptions is an industry leader in helping hopeful adoptive parents bring children into their family. The organization’s focus on counseling and supportive, objective information and open adoption relationships has helped place thousands of children in safe, adoption-friendly homes over the last 25 years.

The Beginning of American Surrogacy

But, as American Adoptions continues to succeed in its adoption goals, Scott Mars had another idea — a different way to help people create their family. He and his adoption professionals had seen assisted reproductive technology make great advances over the decades since American Adoptions had been founded, and they had heard a common theme from their adoption attorneys who also practiced surrogacy law: that intended parents and gestational carriers needed an agency that would provide a more surrogate-centered approach, just as American Adoptions provided a more birth-mother-centered approach than other agencies.

Soon, for Mars, adoption wasn’t enough — gestational surrogacy was on the horizon.

Shortly after, Scott Mars gathered a team of experienced adoption professionals to start the process of building a surrogacy agency. They knew what the advantages were of using positive approaches in their adoption organization, and it made sense to them to found a surrogacy agency with the same ideals. So, Mars and his team created a surrogacy program offering the same kind of services: support, screening, matching, case management and mediation and encouragement of openness in relationships. As a result, in 2013, American Surrogacy was born.

Since then, our surrogacy specialists have been hard at work helping many intended parents bring children into their families and gestational carriers achieve their surrogacy dreams. Our surrogacy director, Angie Newkirk, is a former adoption specialist with American Adoptions, and she brings the experience from that role to her current role guiding intended parents and gestational carriers through this family-building process.

Today, American Surrogacy and American Adoptions have collectively helped build thousands of families through their desired family-building method — all thanks to Scott Mars and his parents’ dream more than 25 years ago. Our team at American Surrogacy looks forward to what the future holds for us and our sister agency with the continued leadership of Scott Mars!

5 Things to Look for in Gestational Carriers

Finding the right gestational carrier is a big decision for any intended parent to make. After all, this will be the woman whom you trust to carry and give birth to your child — no small feat. It’s normal to be nervous and unsure about choosing the gestational carrier that is right for your family, especially if you are entering into the surrogacy process for the first time.

Fortunately, there is help. If you choose to work with American Surrogacy, a surrogacy specialist will guide you through every step of finding a gestational carrier. They will ensure that you are only presented with women who match your preferences and provide all the information you need to make the right decision for your family. Our specialists know how important this choice can be, which is why we dedicate ourselves to making it as easy as possible for you.

But, the ultimate choice will always be up to you. So, how do you find the perfect gestational carrier when there are so many to choose from?

Every intended parent has different preferences, but there are a few common things that our specialists recommend you look for in the perfect surrogacy partner:

1. Someone Who Shares Your Surrogacy Goals and Preferences

The most important aspect in a successful surrogacy relationship is sharing the same goals and preferences for the journey. Surrogacy has a lot of moving parts, and there are many choices that both intended parents and gestational carriers can make along the way. To make the journey as easy as possible, surrogacy partners should ensure they have the same ideas about their process before starting.

How can you do this? Fortunately, when you work with American Surrogacy, your surrogacy specialist will help you create a detailed surrogacy plan. They will ask you about aspects of the process you may not have considered before. Then, they’ll take this plan and find gestational carriers who share the same goals. That way, you can be sure that any gestational carrier presented to you will want the same things from their surrogacy journey.

When you first meet with a prospective gestational carrier, take the opportunity to ask her more about her surrogacy goals to ensure you are both on the same path for this family-building journey.

2. Someone Who Meets Your Expectations

On the same note, it’s important that a gestational carrier meets your personal desires, too. When you start your surrogacy journey, you will be able to decide what kind of woman you want carrying your child — her experience with surrogacy, where she lives, and more. You and your surrogacy specialist will create an ideal gestational carrier profile, which your specialist will use to determine which available surrogacy situations are perfect for your journey.

As nice as a gestational surrogate may seem, if she doesn’t meet your preferences for a carrier, it’s unlikely that you will have a successful and positive surrogacy experience with her.

3. Someone Who is Adaptable

Surrogacy is a partnership — not a relationship where one person gets their way every time. Therefore, it’s important that you and your gestational carrier are flexible when it comes to compromise and unexpected developments.

Just as you should not expect to have your gestational carrier follow your every whim, you shouldn’t feel held hostage to your gestational carrier’s desires. When you first talk with a prospective surrogate, gauge how they respond to your suggestions. Do they seem flexible and adaptable, or are they stuck on a surrogacy journey that only meets their vision? Even if your goals and preferences match up now, an inflexible gestational carrier can be problematic if unexpected situations occur along the way.

4. Someone Who Wants a Relationship with You

Your relationship with your gestational carrier is a big part of your surrogacy experience. While it can be awkward at first to develop a relationship with a total stranger who you are paying to carry your child, the development of your relationship will play a huge role in how successful your journey is. Be wary of gestational carriers who only seem interested in the surrogacy process and their compensation; you want a gestational carrier who is warm and expresses her genuine desire to get to know you throughout your surrogacy partnership.

When you are first getting to know your surrogate, ask her about her family — and pay attention to what kind of questions she is asking you. Does she seem interested in a relationship before, during and after the pregnancy? Or does this seem to be just a business transaction for her? Keep in mind: The best surrogacy experiences emerge when intended parents and gestational carriers share a real bond.

5. Someone Who Gives You that Gut Feeling

Finally, when you’re looking for your perfect gestational carrier, you should always pay attention to how you feel about this match. While all the other aspects above are important to keep in mind, the best surrogacy partnerships are created when the people involved have a gut feeling about each other. Many intended parents and gestational carriers compare their first conversation to a “first date” of sorts; they often know right away whether this partnership will work out.

So, don’t disregard your personal feelings during your search for a gestational carrier. It’s entirely possible that you and a prospective carrier match up on paper but don’t jive in person. That’s okay — American Surrogacy will work with you as long as you need to find the perfect surrogacy partner for your family-building process.

Want to learn more about finding a gestational carrier? Call our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) today.

5 Tips for Managing a Relationship with Your Gestational Surrogate

Once you’ve matched with your gestational carrier, you’ll be excited to start the medical process of surrogacy. After all, you are one step closer to finally holding the little bundle of joy you’ve been dreaming about for so long!

However, surrogacy is about more than just getting your baby. It’s a long and complicated process aided by a positive, healthy relationship with your gestational carrier. She is more than just a woman you “hired” to carry your child; she is your partner in this journey. Therefore, it’s important that you establish a good relationship with her from the get-go.

It’s normal to be nervous about your relationship with your gestational carrier. It’s probably your (and her) first time having this kind of intimate relationship with a previously unknown stranger! Don’t forget that the specialists at American Surrogacy will be there to guide you through this relationship and your surrogacy process every step of the way. We have helped many intended parents and gestational carriers through the surrogacy process, and we are happy to help you, too.

When you work with our surrogacy agency, you can always call your specialist at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) for advice on building a successful relationship with your gestational carrier. In the meantime, we’ve listed a few tips below to help you get started.

1. Show her that you care — but don’t be overbearing.

If you are an intended parent in the surrogacy process, it’s normal to have all kinds of feelings — nervousness, excitement, anxiety and more. When another woman is carrying your child, there can be a feeling of helplessness you must overcome. It’s important that you don’t let that feeling impact your relationship.

Some of the biggest concerns that our specialists hear from gestational carriers are regarding intended parents who cross boundaries. While well-intentioned, these intended parents can make a carrier feel like she is not trusted. In turn, this can cause a carrier to pull back from communication, inspiring another round of checking in from overbearing intended parents.

We understand what you are feeling as an intended parent — and that you would do anything to be able to carry your child yourself. However, it’s important that you identify what are the appropriate boundaries to maintain with your gestational carrier. These may even be outlined in your surrogacy contract. Stick to your agreed-upon communication preferences and frequency, and try not to go too much beyond those set contact times. Your gestational carrier will appreciate it.

2. Show interest in her life and her family.

A gestational carrier sacrifices a lot to help an intended parent add to their family. She gives up her time, her energy and her body during this process. Therefore, it’s important that she feel appreciated for her sacrifice — not just as a piece in a puzzle to help intended parents.

Most intended parents never intentionally present that kind of view to their gestational carrier, but our specialists recommend that you take extra steps to help a surrogate feel appreciated during the journey. For example, when you are getting to know a woman in your first conversation, ask her about herself, her lifestyle and her family — not just the aspects of the surrogacy journey. This applies to conversations had during her pregnancy, as well. You should know enough about her to consider her a friend during the journey, not just a woman who is being paid to carry your child.

3. Give as much as you get in the relationship.

When you are an intended parent, you probably already feel like you are giving a lot to your surrogacy journey — especially regarding your finances. You may feel like a gestational carrier is obligated to your wishes because you are paying her, but that is a recipe for an unhealthy relationship.

Give and take is an important part of any healthy relationship. Yes, you will have set certain preferences and agreements in your surrogacy contract, but there may also be things that arise during pregnancy and delivery that you haven’t thought about. Don’t feel like your gestational carrier owes you everything you want; remember that she is entitled to certain rights, as well.

When you think of something that you want to ask from your gestational carrier, take a second to ask yourself, “Am I making the same sacrifices she is?” For example, rather than making a gestational carrier travel back and forth to you during the early stages of her pregnancy (even if you are paying for travel costs), consider visiting her and her family to head off any inconvenience.

4. Offer to help however you can.

On the same note, remember that your gestational carrier is taking on a great deal of responsibility and personal discomfort in carrying your child. Even if she loves being pregnant and has no bad side effects, she still must take time out of her everyday schedule for appointments and adjust her normal lifestyle to maintain a healthy pregnancy.

As her intended parent, you should always offer to help her however possible. Any financial help should always be cleared by your surrogacy specialist, but you can also provide more heartfelt assistance: sending her pre-made meals or taking her to lunch, creating a pregnancy gift basket to help her pamper herself, or taking her and her family out on an excursion to a local activity, like the zoo. As much as your gestational carrier is being financially supported during her pregnancy, there are still things she is giving up — and offering to help her regain that positive mental energy can show your appreciation for her sacrifice.

5. Continue your relationship after delivery.

While your surrogacy journey will officially be over once your child is born, your relationship with your gestational carrier doesn’t have to be. In fact, many intended parents and surrogates remain friends after delivery, and some even consider each other extended family in the months and years to come. One of the best things you can do for your relationship with your carrier is ensuring her that you will still want to be in her life after she gives birth — and then following through on your promise.  There is perhaps nothing more hurtful to a gestational carrier than intended parents who abandon her once the baby is born.

Your surrogacy specialist will help you prepare for appropriate interaction during delivery and your carrier’s hospital stay. They can also provide suggestions for maintaining an appropriate, respectful relationship after delivery, too.

Having a healthy relationship with your gestational carrier before, during and after her pregnancy will be instrumental in having a successful surrogacy experience. The best surrogacy journeys are those in which surrogacy partners create a close bond and friendship, and it is always possible for you. To start looking for your perfect gestational carrier, please contact American Surrogacy today.

What Happens if My Baby is Born Prematurely During Surrogacy?

It’s a situation that no intended parent or gestational carrier wants to be in: a premature delivery. However, like any other person experiencing a traditional pregnancy, both parties need to be fully prepared for this situation, should it occur during their gestational pregnancy.

If you’re an intended parent, you probably don’t want to think about your child being born prematurely. Surrogacy comes with enough unknowns as it is; when you add in the aspect of premature labor, it can become even more complicated.

So, what can you expect if your baby is born prematurely?

First, know this: Your surrogacy specialist at American Surrogacy will be there to support you every step of the way. They will be prepared to coordinate with all the necessary medical professionals and insurance providers during this process, allowing you and your gestational carrier to focus on what really matters — getting your baby healthy.

Our surrogacy specialists are always available to answer your questions about the medical process of surrogacy when you call our agency at 1-800-875-2229(BABY). In the meantime, you can find out more about premature births in surrogacy below.

What are the Risk Factors for Premature Delivery?

Admittedly, surrogacy can be a complicated family-building process on its own — but there is also evidence that in vitro fertilization can increase the chance that your child will be born prematurely. Therefore, surrogacy professionals take many steps to ensure that a gestational carrier is 100 percent prepared (medically and emotionally) to carry a child before she is approved for the surrogacy process. As part of this process, these medical screenings will test for risk factors for premature labor, such as:

  • Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy – American Surrogacy requires all surrogates to have a healthy BMI between 19 and 31.
  • Multiple previous miscarriages or abortions – Surrogates must have a proven track record of healthy pregnancies free from complications to work with American Surrogacy.
  • Fewer than six months between pregnancies – Our agency requires gestational carriers to wait 12 months after their last pregnancy before starting surrogacy.
  • Smoking cigarettes or using illicit drugs – Surrogates with American Surrogacy are prohibited from these activities before or during their surrogacy.
  • Chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes – All surrogates must undergo an extensive medical examination to prove they are healthy enough to carry a gestational pregnancy.

Another common risk factor for premature labor is carrying multiples, which is why medical professionals will advise against transferring more than one embryo during a single transfer. However, many women who experience premature delivery have no previously known risk factors. That’s why American Surrogacy encourages all its gestational carriers to follow certain guidelines for a healthy pregnancy — guidelines that will likely be addressed in your surrogacy contract.

What if My Surrogate Goes into Preterm Labor?

There are situations in which a gestational carrier seems to have a completely healthy pregnancy, only for her to go into labor prematurely. This can be nerve-wracking for both her and her intended parents, who can feel helpless during this emotional time.

If you live close enough to your gestational carrier, you may decide to travel to her, just in case premature delivery may be needed. If you live far away, it can be tempting to try to find the next flight available and get there when you can. Whatever your situation, you may actually wish to wait until you hear from your carrier’s doctor.

Not all premature labor will result in premature deliveries. In some situations, an obstetrician will be able to prescribe medication to delay the labor as long as possible. Many doctors have a number of weeks they would prefer women hit before giving birth, and your carrier’s doctor may be able to help her keep the baby until that point. She may need to take medication, or she may be required to stay on bedrest for the remainder of her pregnancy. If the latter is the case, your surrogacy contract should detail what expenses will be paid to her as a result of her missing work.

What Will Happen at the Hospital if My Child is Born Premature?

Even with a doctor’s intervention, a gestational carrier may have to deliver a child prematurely — for the child’s safety and for her own safety, too. If you receive a call that your gestational carrier is delivering earlier than planned, you may be frustrated and nervous that things aren’t going according to plan. Remember, your carrier’s doctor is doing the best he or she can to keep your carrier and your baby safe, which sometimes involves premature delivery.

Some doctors may be able to delay a carrier’s labor until intended parents are able to arrive at the hospital. This may not be possible in other situations. Your gestational carrier, her doctor or your surrogacy specialist will keep you up to date on developments. Either way, if you receive the news that your child is being born prematurely, you should likely travel to the carrier’s hospital as soon as possible.

What you will do when you arrive at the hospital will depend upon your surrogate’s medical situation and the hospital’s policies. You may be able to be in the same room during her delivery, whether vaginal or cesarean-section. In other situations, you may not be.

Again, this will all depend upon your carrier’s and your baby’s medical situations, but your baby will likely be placed in the NICU after delivery. There, he or she will receive the medical care they need. Your baby’s doctors will keep you updated on his or her status and allow you to visit your child as soon as possible. You may even be able to stay in a nearby hospital room as you originally planned to during the hospital stay, but this will depend upon hospital policies and available rooms.

As stressful as this time can be, you shouldn’t forget about your gestational carrier. She is likely just as worried as you are about the baby. Take the time to visit with her after labor and ensure she is recovering. Give her the chance to see the baby during her stay, if possible, and keep her updated on your baby’s status after she is discharged.

Every premature delivery situation is different, so these are just some basic words of advice that you can keep in mind if this circumstance occurs with your own surrogacy journey. The best thing you can do in this situation is keep in touch with everyone involved in your surrogacy — your gestational carrier, her obstetrician and your surrogacy specialist. A premature delivery can be a scary experience, but it doesn’t always have to be a negative one.

For more information on how American Surrogacy will support you during your gestational carrier’s pregnancy and delivery process, please contact our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

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).

What American Surrogacy is Thankful for This Year

As Thanksgiving comes around, we at American Surrogacy are taking the time to express all of the things we are grateful for this year. For many people, the last year has been full of its ups and downs — and that is certainly true for those who have traveled the surrogacy path.

We are thankful for every single person that our team has worked with during the past 12 months. Without you all, our process could not have been possible. It’s because of you that we are able to help so many family-building dreams come true.

With Thanksgiving being a time to reflect, we’d like to give a shout-out to some of the people who we are most thankful for in 2018:

Our Intended Parents

Building your family can be a scary prospect. For those who have spent months or years trying to build their family in the traditional way or with other infertility treatments, deciding to pursue surrogacy can be a monumental decision. We are so grateful that our intended parents have chosen our agency to trust with their parenthood dreams.

We are grateful for the excitement we receive from every new intended parent who contacts our agency. With all of the steps involved in the surrogacy process, it can be easy to forget the big picture. Our intended parents help us remember that. When we hear about the first time an intended parent sees their child in a sonogram, or we are able to see the photos from an intended parent’s first meeting with their child in the delivery room, it reminds us how special this journey is — for all involved.

Our Gestational Carriers

We also know that the joy and love our intended parents feel couldn’t be possible without their gestational carriers. Carrying a child for someone else is no easy feat, and we are so grateful for the women who willingly sacrifice their time, energy and bodies to help someone else become a parent. Without these women, American Surrogacy couldn’t help so many intended parents reach their family-building dreams.

We are so appreciative of all our gestational carriers who have worked with our agency thus far, and we are so proud of the women who have already given the gift of life this year! We love seeing the selflessness of our carriers and the beautiful relationships they build with their intended parents. Just like their surrogacy partners do, our gestational carriers remind us every day that what we do is special and makes a difference.

Our Surrogacy Specialists

There are a few people who are instrumental in helping all of our intended parents and gestational carriers to achieve their surrogacy dreams: our surrogacy specialists Angie and Wade.

If you didn’t already know, surrogacy is a family-building process that involves a lot of moving parts and complicated aspects. Coordinating with all the necessary professionals in a surrogacy process and navigating this journey with intended parents and gestational carriers is a difficult job, but our specialists handle it with grace and confidence. A lot of their work happens out of view, but it doesn’t mean it’s out of mind.

So, as Thanksgiving rapidly approaches, American Surrogacy wants to take a moment to appreciate all of those who make our agency’s work possible — intended parents, gestational carriers, and surrogacy specialists. Our appreciation also goes out to the surrogacy attorneys and medical professionals we work with, as well as the family members and friends that support our clients through this complicated family-building process. Without you, American Surrogacy could not exist. Thank you!

Want to learn more about American Surrogacy and our gestational surrogacy program? Call our specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) today.

5 Ways to Respond to “When Are You Having a Baby?”

The holiday season — a time full of love, joy, and reconnecting with family. But, family doesn’t always mean love and joy, especially for those going through the infertility process. Instead, it can sometimes mean endless questions about a subject you’d rather not let be the focus of your holiday season.

For many relatives, close and extended, the holiday season is a time to catch up with family about the big updates of the year and those yet to come. Often, those questions involve discussions of family-building and future bundles of joy. While these questions may seem harmless to the asker, they can quickly take their toll on couples and singles at every stage in their family-building process.

We know that the holidays can be a tough time for intended parents, even if their families are sensitive about discussing their family-building process. That’s why your surrogacy specialist at American Surrogacy will always be here to support you during this time, whether you need more information about your personal surrogacy journey or connections to trusted local infertility counselors.

If you’re like many intended parents, no amount of preparation can stave off the inevitable question: “When are you having kids?” If you wish to spend time with family during the holidays, there are a few different ways you can approach this invasive question:

1. Explain your situation ahead of time.

If you know a big family gathering is coming — such as Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner — take the initiative to tell your family members about any news (or lack of) in your family-building process ahead of time. Consider sending a mass text or email to tell your extended family (who may be unaware of your recent life changes) about your current status in your infertility treatments. Whether you are still undergoing traditional treatments, have taken a break or are pursuing surrogacy or adoption, share that news with them ahead of time. That way, they can process any emotions they have and ask you questions in a less emotionally charged way than you would experience at a family gathering.

2. Redirect with a joke or lighthearted comment.

If you do get the dreaded questions during your family gathering, you have a few options in how you respond. If you don’t wish to go into depth about the personal details of your family-building process, you can respond in a lighthearted way. Often, family members and friends will pick up on your comment and redirect the conversation elsewhere. If they don’t, take that initiative yourself.

If someone asks you, “When are you having children?” you could respond with answers such as:

  • “My dog/cat is enough of a child for me right now!”
  • “That’s a good question! I have one for you, too” (and then change to another subject).
  • “When I hit all the countries and cities on my bucket list!”
  • “Well, we’re just doing a lot of practice right now!”
  • “I don’t know, but we’ll give it a go tonight!”
  • “Not sure yet — what about you?”
  • “When people stop asking us all the time, so probably not for a while.”

Obviously, some of these responses will go over better than others, depending on who you are speaking to. Use your own judgement, and the right response will usually lead to the asker quickly changing the subject.

3. Answer honestly — and take this chance to educate.

If you’re dealing with infertility, you may have been keeping this a secret from your family and friends. However, infertility is more common than you may think — 1 in 8 American couples struggle to get pregnant — and you can spread awareness by being honest about your situation. If you feel up for it, explain to the asker that you have been having troubles getting pregnant and are looking into your options. You can also take this opportunity to explain why asking this question can be so harmful to people, and that advice from anyone other than your doctor won’t make you feel any better.

If you mention that you are pursuing surrogacy or adoption, you may receive misguided and misinformed comments from your family and friends. If you are comfortable doing so, take this opportunity to shed the light on the reality of these family-building methods. Not only will you help spread awareness about these beautiful methods of creating a family, you will also help your family and friends get as excited as you are about your future plans.

4. Make your discomfort known.

You don’t have to explain your situation if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. Remember, news about your family-building process is always personal, and it’s no one’s business but your own. If you don’t feel like answering the question, “When are you having kids?” with a long response, use something simple:

“That’s a really personal question that I’m really not comfortable answering.”

While it may be awkward when you start using this response, it can be incredibly effective at shutting down the conversation about your family-building plans and will often prevent your friend or family member from asking the same question again in the future.

5. Make any discussion about family-building off-limits.

If all else fails, you may need to use more forceful language when speaking with your friends and family. Subtle responses like the one above may not stop a nosy relative, so be prepared to shut down the conversation if you have to.  As uncomfortable as it may be, tell the asker that this is not a topic for discussion during your family gathering, that you wish to focus on the family that is already here to celebrate, and that you do not want for them to ask again. It may cause tension in the family for a little bit, but it is always worth it when it comes to your emotional well-being.

The holidays can often be stressful enough without feeling like you have to fend off intrusive questions from your loved ones about your personal life. If you need to, don’t be afraid to take some space for yourself during these gatherings or even avoid certain get-togethers completely. It is important for you to keep yourself emotionally healthy, especially if you are in the middle of surrogacy, adoption or another family-building path. Remember, your family’s journey is only your own business; you do not owe anyone an explanation.

For more guidance about discussing surrogacy and infertility with your family and friends, don’t hesitate to reach out to your surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

Can I Find a Free Surrogate Mother for My Surrogacy Journey?

If you’re considering building your family through surrogacy, you know that you have an expensive route ahead of you. Surrogacy can be a complicated journey, and there are many moving parts and professionals required in order to complete this process safely and legally. There is not a great deal of options when it comes to making surrogacy more affordable, but there is one big one — deciding to find a free surrogate mother.

Often, the base compensation paid to a gestational carrier can be one of the largest aspects of an intended parent’s surrogacy cost. By eliminating this compensation, intended parents can pursue a significantly cheaper family-building journey.

However, the path to find a free surrogate mother is not as easy as it may seem. There are many things to consider before embarking on this kind of surrogacy journey and, when you learn more about it, you may even discover that it is not the right path for your family.

Below, we’ve tackled a few of the important facts about working with a surrogate mother for free to help you decide what is best for your family-building journey. Remember, our surrogacy professionals are always available at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) if you have any more questions about surrogacy costs, surrogate compensation and the possibility of working with an uncompensated gestational carrier.

Can a Surrogate Mother Do It For Free?

As you research surrogacy, you’ll likely first learn about the most common surrogacy path — compensated surrogacy. In this situation, a gestational carrier is paid base compensation (as well as reimbursement for any medical and pregnancy costs) in exchange for her services and sacrifice in carrying an intended parent’s baby. This process is available through most of the United States, depending on the laws of the state where the gestational carrier lives and will give birth.

However, you may also stumble across another surrogacy process: an altruistic surrogacy. During this process, intended parents find a free surrogate mother — someone who is willing to carry a child without receiving a base compensation. A woman’s medical and pregnancy costs will still be covered in this kind of surrogacy arrangement.

It is perfectly legal for a gestational carrier to carry a child altruistically. In fact, it is required in certain states that prohibit paid surrogacy contracts.

Are There Any “Pro Bono” Surrogate Mothers?

While it is certainly possible for a surrogate mother to do it for free, altruistic surrogacy is far less common than compensated surrogacy. Understandably, many women desire compensation when becoming a gestational carrier. After all, they are sacrificing their own time, energy and body to help someone else, and they often don’t feel comfortable doing so without some token of appreciation.

However, there are still women who are willing to complete altruistic surrogacies. Often, these are women who know the intended parents they wish to carry for. Perhaps a gestational carrier is a sister or friend of an intended mother, and she is happy to make this sacrifice for her loved ones. On the other hand, a woman may wish to become a traditional surrogate (in which she is related to the baby she carries) — a path which, in many states, cannot be legally completed if she receives base compensation. However, traditional surrogacy can be a risky legal and emotionally process that is uncommon today — and, even if you find a traditional surrogate for free, you should seriously consider the risks before moving forward with this path.

If you are looking to find a free surrogate mother, you might start by looking within your own network for an eligible friend or family member who wishes to carry for you. Otherwise, finding an altruistic surrogate is often a path you must take on your own. Many agencies (including American Surrogacy) typically work with gestational carriers who wish to receive compensation. So, to find a surrogate mother for free, you may need to search online and identify a surrogacy situation yourself.

Things to Consider About an Altruistic Surrogacy

For you, as an intended parent, working with a free surrogate mother may seem like the perfect path. It allows you to cut down on your surrogacy costs, of which there will be many. However, before you decide to pursue an altruistic surrogacy, it’s important that you think about this path from the perspective of the woman who will carry your child.

Surrogacy is a lot of work for a gestational carrier. Not only is she sacrificing a year or more of her time and energy to help you, she will also incur certain risks during the surrogacy process. A traditional pregnancy is risky for a pregnant woman, and a gestational pregnancy is no different — especially when you think about the extra medical procedures and medications required to impregnate a gestational carrier.

If a woman does not receive compensation as a token of her intended parents’ gratitude, she may feel taken advantage of — which can greatly impact your relationship with her. Similarly, if you are an intended parent in an altruistic surrogacy, you may feel incredibly indebted to your gestational carrier. These kinds of feelings can quickly cause tension in a relationship, even between friends and family members.

So, before you go looking for any “pro bono” surrogate mothers, we encourage you to reach out to our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY). Our specialists can discuss with you the pros and cons of this path, including the responsibilities you will have to take on if you choose to find a free surrogate mother instead of a compensated one. We can also explain the benefits of finding a compensated gestational carrier with our agency and help you get started whenever you are ready.

For more information, contact American Surrogacy today.

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).