3 Tips for Teachers Explaining Surrogacy to their Students

It’s October, which means that the school year is finally in full swing. Teachers and students have adjusted to their new relationships in the classroom and are finally ready to get down to work.

As a teacher, you spend a majority of your time with these students and have likely grown to love them as your own. However, if you’re expecting a baby via surrogacy or will be carrying a baby for another family, another child will soon become a part of your classroom (whether physically or not), and it’s important to address this with your students and their families.

Surrogacy is a beautiful way to build families and should be something that you’re proud announcing to anyone who’s interested. But, when the tiny humans you’re telling about your surrogacy may not comprehend the logistics involved, it can be a tricky situation.

No matter whether you’re an intended parent or a prospective surrogate, there are some steps you can take as a teacher to help share your exciting news:

1. First, address the topic with your students’ parents.

Every student is at a different point in their understanding of how the human reproductive system works, and it’s usually not your responsibility as a teacher to give them all the details. This will be up to their parents — which means they should be the ones that you share your announcement with first.

You may choose to write a letter explaining your situation to your students’ parents and then leave it up to them to address the topic with their children. You can use this letter to explain how surrogacy works and how parents can talk to their children about this topic, as well as suggest books and other resources to learn more about the surrogacy process. Make yourself available to parents who might have questions and, if you’re planning on announcing your surrogacy to your students in class, let them know what you’re planning to say.

The specialists at American Surrogacy are happy to provide you a letter like this to share with your students’ parents.

2. Be prepared for questions, and answer them age-appropriately.

If you decide to address your surrogacy with your classroom, your surrogacy specialist can help you create a list of talking points that are appropriate and should answer most of your students’ questions. Again, the detail and information you give will be determined by your students’ ages; what first-graders and what seventh-graders need to know about surrogacy are completely different.

You’ll also need to recognize that when you announce your surrogacy to your students, you will open yourself up to questions from curious minds. Be prepared to answer these questions in an age-appropriate manner, and try to make your surrogacy just a normal part of your classroom. Your students will eventually move on past the topic of your surrogacy as they find more interesting and new things to talk about.

3. Make surrogacy information readily available in your classroom.

While surrogacy may not be a constant topic of discussion, you can still take steps to provide more surrogacy information for your students to normalize the process. You can choose to include books about surrogacy in your classroom library, like:

If you have an older group of students, you might provide books about in vitro fertilization and surrogacy in your science resource section instead. If a student ever approaches you and wants to learn more about your surrogacy, you can refer them to more informational resources, too. Typically, any information you find about “telling your children about surrogacy” can be tweaked for conversations with your students.

As with every other part of your surrogacy journey, your surrogacy specialist will also be available to help you prepare for and navigate this conversation with your students and their parents. It’s natural to be excited and want to share your parenthood journey with those who are most important in your life — and just because you’re involved in the surrogacy process doesn’t make it any different.

3 Differences Between Gestational and Traditional Surrogacy

Whether you’re a prospective surrogate or an intended parent, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether you’ll pursue a gestational or traditional surrogacy. There’s a lot of buzz and controversy surrounding these two types of surrogacy, so it’s important that you know the truth about them before moving forward with your surrogacy journey.

There are many nuanced differences between gestational and traditional surrogacy, and the best way to learn about each in more detail is by talking with one of our surrogacy specialists. In the meantime, here are three important differences to know about traditional vs. gestational surrogacy.

1. In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is not genetically related to the child she carries. In traditional surrogacy, her eggs are used to create the embryo for the intended parents.

Gestational and traditional surrogacy are deemed separate surrogacy processes because of the way the intended parent’ embryos are created — a decision that impacts the rest of the surrogacy process. In gestational surrogacy (the most common form of surrogacy today), intended parents create embryos with their own sperm and egg, or using a sperm or egg from a gamete donor. However, in traditional surrogacy, a surrogate uses her own eggs to create an embryo for the intended parents, either through the in vitro fertilization process or through an artificial insemination. Therefore, a traditional surrogate is the biological mother of the baby that she carries, while a gestational surrogate is not at all related to the baby.

This important difference between traditional surrogacy vs. gestational surrogacy informs the rest of the surrogacy process — from the medical procedures involved to the legal process required. As you’ll read below, traditional surrogacies are much more complicated due to this genetic relationship. 

2. The legal process is much more complicated in a traditional surrogacy than in a gestational surrogacy.

When a woman is carrying a baby for other people, the legal process is already complicated. Necessary steps must be taken to draw up a contract that protects both the intended parents’ and the surrogate’s rights, and a lawyer must ensure that the intended parents’ parental rights are established as early as possible in the pregnancy or after the child is born, usually through a pre-birth or post-birth parentage order.

However, when the surrogate is genetically related to the baby that she’s carrying, establishing parental rights can be a bit more complicated. That’s because, unlike a gestational surrogate, a traditional surrogate has inherent parental rights because of her genetic connection. Therefore, there is the possibility that she decides to enact those parental rights, creating more risk for the surrogacy process in general.

3. It’s much easier to find a surrogacy professional that will help you complete a gestational surrogacy than one who will assist with a traditional surrogacy.

Because of the legal risks and additional considerations needed for traditional surrogacy, it’s rare for surrogacy professionals to assist prospective surrogates and intended parents who wish to complete this process. Because gestational surrogacy is much safer, it’s a much more common process for intended parents and surrogates, and there are plenty of surrogacy professionals like American Surrogacy who will help you reach your surrogacy goals in this manner.

If you’re looking to complete a traditional surrogacy, recognize that you may have a harder time finding a professional who is willing to work with you through this process. After you find an intended parent or surrogate who has the same surrogacy goals (which can be just a difficult), you may need to complete an independent surrogacy out of necessity — which places far more responsibility on both parties in the surrogacy. In most cases, those who complete traditional surrogacies are single men, gay male couples or heterosexual couples who use a female relative to have a genetic connection when they can’t both share their genes with their child. American Surrogacy, like many surrogacy agencies, cannot work with those hoping to complete a traditional surrogacy.

These are by no means all of the important things that intended parents and prospective surrogates should know about gestational and traditional surrogacy, but they’re often some of the biggest deciding factors for those who are choosing between the two surrogacy paths. For more information, we advise you speak to your fertility specialist or our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) to learn more about which surrogacy process — traditional surrogacy vs. gestational surrogacy — might be right for you.

Remembering Lost Pregnancies and Infants this October

Oftentimes, the path to surrogacy is filled with emotional ups and downs — including devastating heartbreaks. Whether that’s from an inability to get pregnant, a miscarriage or other infant loss, many families who work with American Surrogacy experience a tragedy in their family-building journey before they turn to our agency for help.

That’s why we’re recognizing the month of October as Pregnancy, Infant Loss and Miscarriage Awareness Month. Far too many families grieve in silence, never having the opportunity to come to terms with their loss of an infant or a pregnancy — so we’re encouraging all families (whether they’ve dealt with this tragedy or not) to take time this month to recognize those who have experienced this loss. No one should have to grieve alone, and this month of remembrance helps those to live with their loss in a healthy way.

President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed this month of remembrance back in 1988, saying:

“National observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, 1988, offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies. It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members and work to prevent causes of these problems.”

While the entirety of October is an awareness month, Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. “Remembering Our Babies,” an organization to spread awareness of this issue, encourages everyone to light a candle at 7 p.m. on Oct. 15 to represent the pregnancies and infants that were lost too early.

The organization also offers guidance for coping with grief of a lost pregnancy or baby throughout the year. Friends and families can view suggestions on how to support and counsel loved ones going through this grief process.

In addition to the worldwide candle lighting, you can also see if an organization near you is hosting an awareness walk or activity within the month of October. You can also submit information about an event you’re hosting for advertising on their website.

For those who are dealing with an infant or pregnancy loss, it’s important to commemorate this day and acknowledge what you’re feeling. Some ideas include:

  • Releasing balloons or butterflies
  • Planting a tree
  • Having a memorial service
  • Giving to a charity that supports infants and children and their families

Whatever you decide to do on this day, it should be something that makes you feel better, even if it that feeling is bittersweet.

The surrogacy specialists at American Surrogacy are also available to provide counseling and support to our intended parents who are coping with their grief during this difficult month. We can also refer you to trusted professional counselors for more support, if you need it.

You may wish to reach out to others who have experienced an infant or pregnancy loss. Try these support groups and resource centers for more suggestions on coping with your grief:

You can also find a full list of infertility and infant loss groups in the United States here.

While this month can be difficult, remember that you are not alone. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings and appropriately cope with your grief, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help and support from others if you need it.

Considering a Non-Traditional Birth in Surrogacy? What to Know

While the majority of women choose to give birth in a traditional hospital setting, there are also women who choose to give birth in a non-traditional way. This may include a home birth, a birthing center or birthing rooms in a hospital — and studies show that more and more women are choosing this option when they give birth.

The option of a non-traditional birth is not limited to women giving birth to their biological children, however; today, non-traditional births are also available for those involved in a surrogacy process. Whether a non-traditional birth is suggested by a surrogate or an intended parent, it is a suggestion that must be accompanied by a detailed discussion to make sure it’s in the best interest of all involved.

The Different Kinds of Non-Traditional Births

Usually, when a woman gives birth, she elects to have the process overseen by her OB/GYN in a hospital setting. She will likely have a vaginal birth or a Cesarean section depending on her individual health situation.

However, some women can choose to have a non-traditional birthing experience, which can include:

  • Home Births: A woman gives birth in familiar surroundings at home, without drugs or episiotomies. A midwife attends the birth to assist and to transfer the woman to the hospital in case of emergency.
  • Freestanding Birthing Centers: Women who want a more natural birth without being at home may choose a birthing center. These centers promote natural births without induction or stimulation to start labor and utilize no C-sections or drugs. However, they are equipped with medical equipment just in case. Freestanding birth centers offer prenatal care throughout the pregnancy and postpartum checkups, eliminating the need for a hospital.
  • InHospital Birthing Centers: Birthing centers within hospitals offer the same natural birth experience, although prenatal visits will probably be conducted at your caregiver’s office. These centers are usually available to any midwife or doctor with admitting privileges to the hospital.

Within these general settings for a non-traditional birth, women may choose methods like water births, hypnobirthing and other alternative methods for a more natural, drug-free birth.

These non-traditional birthing methods are not for everyone, so it’s important that a woman meets specific health requirements before she can be cleared to give birth in a more natural way with less access to medical intervention. If you have questions about whether you can complete a non-traditional birth, it’s best to speak with your OB/GYN and your surrogacy professional.

If You Want a Non-Traditional Birth

Whether you’re an intended parent or a prospective surrogate, you have the right to suggest a nontraditional birthing experience. However, it’s important to recognize that your desire for a nontraditional birth may impact how long you wait for a match in the surrogacy process.

At American Surrogacy, we make matches between intended parents and surrogates based on mutual desires — which includes the manner in which the surrogate will give birth. Therefore, this is decided before the medical procedures even start. Your surrogacy contract will include the method of birth, so if you’re interested in the idea of a non-traditional birth, this is something you’ll need to make known from the start.

There certainly are surrogates and intended parents who are comfortable with and excited about the idea of a non-traditional birth, but the number is definitely lower than those who desire a traditional hospital birth. Be prepared for a longer wait before you are matched with the perfect prospective surrogate or intended parent. Remember, there always is a perfect match for you, and we will help you find them.

To learn more about American Surrogacy’s matching process and how you can find the perfect intended parent or surrogate for your surrogacy goals, please contact our surrogacy specialists today.

What Happens After a Miscarriage in Surrogacy

It’s a situation no intended parent or surrogate wants to experience: a miscarriage. While fertility clinics and fertility doctors take every step to make sure an embryo and a surrogate are healthy before the transfer and implantation of the embryo, miscarriages do sometimes occur.

Miscarriages are still a rather taboo topic, but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. They’re more common than you may think; between 10 and 25 percent of known pregnancies actually end in miscarriage. Rarely is a miscarriage someone’s “fault,” as it’s usually the result of an abnormal embryo that would not have survived to term anyway.

Experiencing a miscarriage during the surrogacy process can be even more devastating because of the time and effort put into creating an embryo and the past failures an intended parent may have had with their own fertility. A miscarriage can seem like an impossible setback, but know that your surrogacy specialist and fertility doctor will be with you as you cope with this loss and decide what to do next.

Intended Parents

For many intended parents, a miscarriage during surrogacy is a reminder of their own past miscarriages or inability to get pregnant. It is heartbreaking to see your dreams fail again, but it’s important to understand the vast scope of the surrogacy process and stay positive.

There is no dramatic difference in miscarriage rates for those who conceive an embryo via in-vitro fertilization. A miscarriage during surrogacy is a natural thing, although that will likely not come as any condolence to you in your grieving process.

If your surrogacy results in a miscarriage, it’s important to take the time you need to grieve (your surrogate will also need time to physically recover before another embryo transfer can take place). This is also a good time for you and your surrogate to reevaluate your thoughts before moving forward; it’s important that both of you are still committed and comfortable continuing the surrogacy process at a time that’s best for both of you. When you’re ready, your fertility clinic will begin the necessary steps for another implantation cycle.

Remember, miscarriage is a common occurrence, and it’s no one’s fault. Your fertility clinic will have usually prepared you for the possibility of a miscarriage, and American Surrogacy will always give you the support and counseling you need to get through this difficult time. We know that it takes time to heal from a difficult loss like this, which is why you and your surrogate have the right to decide together when to start the transfer process again.

Surrogates

If you experience a miscarriage as a surrogate, it’s common to feel like you’ve failed your intended parents. This is completely untrue; a miscarriage is not your fault but instead a natural phenomenon you have no control over. Still, this can be difficult to accept, especially because it’s your body that has expelled the pregnancy.

A miscarriage will not affect your ability to become pregnant again. Your surrogacy contract will state how many transfers you will complete for the intended parents, so it’s likely that you will have another embryo transferred whenever you are physically and emotionally ready. Depending on how far along your pregnancy was, this recovery period may take longer or shorter than you expect. However, it’s important that your emotional recovery is complete before you move forward with another embryo transfer.

It’s normal to feel a range of emotions after a miscarriage, even if the embryo was not genetically related to you. We can always provide you trained counseling to help you cope with these emotions and prepare for your next embryo transfer, whenever you’re ready. Usually, within the first three transfers you complete with your intended parents, one embryo will result in a successful pregnancy and birth — so, while it may be tempting to give up after this disappointment, remember that it’s highly likely you’ll find success in your subsequent transfers.

Remember, surrogacy is a marathon — not a sprint. It’s a long process that will come with many emotional ups and downs, which is why American Surrogacy’s specialists will be there for you every step of the way. Miscarriage is always a difficult event to process but know that it’s not the end of the line. A successful surrogacy is possible, and we’ll help you complete it.

How Does a Baby Shower Work if You’re a Surrogate?

As you get closer to giving birth to your intended parents’ baby, you’ll reach an exciting point in your pregnancy. After all, the baby you have all worked so hard to bring into the world is almost here!

At this point in your pregnancy, your intended parents or their friends may choose to throw a baby shower. Baby showers are wonderful ways to celebrate the upcoming birth of the baby and help intended parents prepare with gifts and support.

However, as a surrogate, you may not be sure what the protocol is for a surrogacy baby shower. Should you expect to be invited? Do you need to bring a gift? What do you do while you’re there?

Each surrogacy situation is different, and the relationship that you have with your intended parent will likely play a role in your involvement (or lack thereof) in the baby shower. No matter what involvement you do have, it’s important to understand that this can be a delicate situation; whether you’re invited or not, know that you are an important part of this surrogacy process and the intended parents greatly appreciate everything you’re doing for them.

If You Are Invited

For some intended parents, throwing a baby shower and inviting their surrogate just seems the natural thing to do. You’re an integral part of their parenthood journey, so it makes sense that you would be there for the baby shower. You do not have to attend a baby shower unless you’re comfortable doing so; some surrogates would rather let the intended parents have this time for themselves and their friends rather than attending and not being sure of what to do at the event.

If you do decide to attend the intended parents’ baby shower, you may still have reservations about what role you’ll play. Here’s the most important thing: This shower is about the baby and the family you are helping to create. Make sure that the intended parents get the attention they deserve, and it will be a positive experience for all of you.

It’s understandable if the parents’ family and friends are curious about you and want to talk to you during this event. If they tend to monopolize the conversation with you, gently steer the conversation back to the intended parents, mentioning reasons why you’re happy to carry for them, why they’ll be such great parents, etc. The intended parents will greatly appreciate you for doing this. If at any time you feel uncomfortable or feel like you’re stealing the spotlight, don’t be afraid to step out so guests can give the intended parents more focus.

In most cases, the friends and family of the baby shower will treat you as any other guest, instead showering their affection on the intended parents. So, if the intended parents express a desire for you to be at the shower, you should strongly consider attending, as it will mean a great deal to them. However, if you feel uncomfortable doing so, the intended parents will also understand.

After deciding to attend the baby shower, you may wonder whether you should bring a gift. Even though you are giving the intended parents the most priceless gift by carrying their baby, you may have concerns about showing up to a shower without actually “showering” the intended parents.

You are in no way obligated to bring a gift for the intended parents, and they will completely understand that. However, if you do want to bring a present to the baby shower, it might be a good idea to bring something personal and special to your relationship. For example, you may wish to make a handmade gift for the baby (like a painting or knitted cap) or find a special memento from your home state that can be placed in the baby’s room as a representation of their surrogacy story. If you have questions about what kind of gifts are appropriate or need help thinking of some ideas, your surrogacy specialist will always be available to you.

A baby shower should always be a happy event, not one that brings you worry or concern. Understanding your role as a surrogate at this important event will help make it go much smoother for you and the intended parents.

If You’re Not Invited

Sometimes, intended parents may not wish to include their surrogates in their baby shower; instead, they may want it to be a small event of family and close friends. If this is the case for you as a surrogate, it’s important to understand that this decision is not a slight against you — and does not way diminish your importance in the surrogacy process.

Just as you may have reservations about attending the baby shower, the intended parents may have concerns about making you feel obligated to attend an event you don’t want to. To avoid that awkwardness, they may choose to simply avoid the dilemma at all. This is never a malicious move and, as a surrogate, you should understand that the decision likely has little to do with you. Whatever your intended parents choose, you should support them and their decision.

Remember, if you have concerns or questions about baby showers as a surrogate or any other special event usually reserved for the woman carrying a baby, your surrogacy specialist at American Surrogacy can offer you support and guidance.  Please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) any time.

What to Expect When Testing for a Surrogate Pregnancy

Everyone knows: The surrogacy medical process is long and can seem to take forever. After months of testing and measuring cycles in preparation for the embryo transfer process, waiting for a positive pregnancy result after the transfer can seem like an impossible feat, no matter whether you’re the surrogate or the intended parent.

When you’re in the middle of the surrogacy medical process, your fertility specialist will explain in detail what to expect. But, what if you haven’t started the process or want more information on exactly what to expect when testing for a positive surrogate pregnancy?

You can read more below about what happens during the testing process for a surrogate pregnancy. As always, we recommend speaking to your surrogacy specialist and fertility specialist for more detailed information about what your personal medical process will look like.

The Clinical Process

After a surrogate’s embryo transfer process is complete, her fertility clinic will eventually test for her pregnancy with an hCG level blood test. hCG levels are the hormone levels that determine if a woman is pregnant or not. How high a surrogate’s level needs to be, however, will depend upon her individual situation, including when the embryos were transferred during the incubation period and how many days have passed since the transfer was completed.

But, how long before you can expect a result?

How long a surrogate needs to wait before a beta blood test will depend on the fertility specialist’s instructions, but the first testing process usually occurs anywhere between eight to 12 days after transfer. If hCG levels indicate a surrogate might be pregnant, she’ll return a couple of days later for another blood test to see if the levels keep rising. Ideally, hCG levels should double every 48 to 72 hours.

If her levels rise enough, the fertility specialist will likely confirm the pregnancy. This is usually confirmed after the third beta appointment.

Home Pregnancy Tests: Are They Worth It?

If you’re a surrogate who is part of online support groups, you may see other surrogates post pictures of multiple home pregnancy tests from different testing times. But, if all surrogates know for sure at a fertility clinic testing whether their pregnancy is positive or not, why do they do this?

Taking home pregnancy tests is just another way for surrogates to track their increasing hCG levels. Typically, women will wait three days after an embryo transfer to take a pregnancy test — although it can take at least five days after transfer for a positive pregnancy test to show up. From there, surrogates may take a test twice a day to compare the results; if a pregnancy line is getting darker, it’s usually a sign that their hCG level is rising and they are, indeed, pregnant.

While some surrogates will wait until their clinic beta testing just to be safe, other surrogates are anxious to see whether the embryo transfer worked. This comes from the desire and hope riding on their pregnancy, so it make sense that they want that validation, even if they wait to tell intended parents until a medical confirmation.

However, it’s important to note that just because a home pregnancy test comes back positive does not mean a pregnancy is in the clear. You may receive a false positive reading, or there may be other medical issues that arise later on. So, while home pregnancy tests are a good way to relieve anxiety after an embryo transfer, it’s always a good idea to rely on your fertility clinic for a secure medical result.

If you ever have any questions about testing for your surrogate pregnancy and the process involved, we encourage you to reach out to your fertility specialist for accurate, personalized information.

3 Ways to Find Positivity in an Infertility Anniversary

Whether you’re currently in the surrogacy process or still deciding if it’s right for you, the path to where you are today has likely been a long one filled with many emotional ups and downs. In addition to the small successes you’ve achieved, you may also have experienced heartbreak.

Despite the sadness these days may bring, many intended parents choose to mark the anniversaries of some of these heartbreaks, like past miscarriages, the moment they realized they couldn’t carry a child themselves and the beginning of their surrogacy journey (especially when the process hasn’t yet produced a child of their own).

While it can be a day full of grief and sadness, it’s important that you acknowledge this day and what it means to you. Ignoring the importance of this day can have dire effects for your mental health, especially as you’re also going through the emotionally trying process of surrogacy. The best thing that you can do is embrace the feelings and memory of this day — and take certain steps to help yourself get through this emotionally difficult time.

1. Communicate What You’re Feeling.

A big part of acknowledging this sad anniversary is sharing your feelings with others. Keeping what you’re feeling inside will only elevate those difficult feelings, while letting them out one way or another can be extremely cathartic. It can be comforting to turn to a trusted friend or family member (or your partner if you are going through the surrogacy process with them) to talk about your feelings. Having someone to share your feelings with can help immensely with the loss and loneliness you may be experiencing on this day.

If you don’t feel like sharing your emotions with someone else, that’s okay. Instead of ignoring your feelings, however, try to let them out through journaling or another emotive activity.

2. Commemorate the Anniversary with Something Positive.

While this day will be a sad day, you can take steps to make something good out of it. It can help to symbolically let your negative feelings go; perhaps write down your thoughts on paper inside a balloon and release it into the air, or bury your feelings in a box. To leave a positive impact on a negative day, perhaps plant a tree or donate to a charity that means something special to you. Whatever you can do to make yourself feel a little better, make that effort to add some positivity to this day.

3. Seek Out Support.

No one should go through these difficult times alone, so we encourage all intended parents coping with a sad anniversary to reach out to their surrogacy specialist for support. Our specialists can provide emotional support, as well as refer you to trained counselors if that’s something you need. Most of the time, though, you may just need a sympathetic ear — and your surrogacy specialist is well experienced in the feelings that intended parents like you go through during these difficult times.

You may also wish to seek out support groups for intended parents like yourself. You may find comfort in talking to people who have been through the same situations as you. You can search support groups by state here, or look online for other internet support groups.

Everyone is different, and the way you decide to address this sad anniversary will ultimately be up to you. However, we highly encourage that you do take steps to acknowledge and honor this day; it’s an important part of your parenthood journey and who you are today. Remember, this sad day is just one stop on your road to becoming parents and eventually holding that special little bundle of joy in your arms.

How You Can Still Breastfeed Your Baby as an Intended Mother

As an intended mother, you may not be able to be pregnant yourself and carry your baby to term — but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on one of the most intimate parts of caring for an infant. In this case, we’re talking about breastfeeding.

You may not know that, even if you don’t carry a baby yourself, you can still breastfeed them by taking certain medical steps. Just like any other mother breastfeeding, it may be a long process with its ups and downs — but know that you can succeed in breastfeeding your baby and giving him or her all of the subsequent health benefits of doing so.

Your doctor can best explain how to proceed with induced lactation based on your individual circumstances, but here are some of the basics of the process:

How it Works

Like other pregnancy-related side effects, lactation is induced by pregnancy hormones. That’s why it’s so important to work closely with your doctor if you wish to breastfeed as an intended mother; they can help you proceed safely and effectively with inducing lactation.

Each intended mother’s situation is different but, typically, here are the steps you will take:

1. Take initial hormones.

Typically, these will be birth control pills that will “trick” your body into thinking that you’re pregnant, the first step to producing milk.

2. Replace these hormones with supplements and medication.

To promote your milk production, your doctor will give you medications and other herbal supplements after stopping the birth control pills.

3. Start pumping for milk.

To induce lactation, you’ll need to start pumping before your baby is born. By increasing the duration and frequency that you pump, your milk will hopefully come in by the time your baby is born.

4. Start nursing, but don’t be afraid to supplement.

Even women who carry their own babies have difficulties with breastfeeding, and that may be the case with you as an intended mother. If your milk supply is not substantial to feed your baby the nutrients he or she needs, don’t be afraid to use a supplemental nursing system. These are more common than you think and provide mothers a way to breastfeed their baby with their own milk and a milk supplement (like the surrogate’s milk, donated breastmilk, etc.) at the same time.

What to Consider About Breastfeeding

For many intended mothers, the opportunity to breastfeed their baby allows them to experience one of the most intimate parts of the post-partum baby-raising process. Even though they could not carry their baby to full term themselves, they are able to have that bonding experience through the intimate process of breastfeeding.

Many intended mothers also consider breastfeeding their child (with their own milk or donated milk) because of the health benefits involved. Studies have shown that breastmilk and breastfeeding may reduce the risk of many health issues for newborns, like asthma and allergies, and has also been linked to reduced risks of breast cancer and ovarian cancer for mothers.

However, breastfeeding for any mother requires time and commitment — and even more so for intended mothers. In addition to nursing a child 10 or 12 times a day, intended mothers must pump for weeks or months before their baby is born in order to successfully breastfeed their child. There is also a learning curve for breastfeeding no matter whether you’re an intended mother or gave birth to the baby yourself; it may not be right for everyone. If you decide to try breastfeeding, it’s important to recognize that you may not always get the results you want — and don’t see it as a negative reflection upon your ability to “be a mother.” Ultimately, the decision will be up to you depending on what you think is right for you and your baby.

If you’re interested in breastfeeding your baby (whether through your own breastmilk, the surrogate’s breastmilk or donated breastmilk), we encourage you to speak with your doctor to learn more about what options are available to you. At American Surrogacy, we can also help coordinate this in your surrogacy contract, should you wish to have your surrogate pump and donate her breastmilk to you.

To learn more today about our other services for intended parents, please call 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

What A Doula Does and Why You May Want One

As a surrogate, you have the right to be as comfortable as possible during your labor, including having all the support you need before, during and after your hospital stay. While you will receive much of that support from your surrogacy agency and your intended parents, you may also wish to consider hiring a doula for your surrogacy process.

A doula is a trained professional who typically helps pregnant mothers and expectant fathers through the delivery process. In surrogacy, a doula provides services to both the intended parents and their surrogate. There are generally two different kinds of doulas: a birth doula and a postpartum doula. Some doulas act as both.

What a Doula Does

While every doula’s specialties are different, their main purpose in surrogacy is to provide more specialized support for intended parents and surrogates, in addition to the general support you will receive from your surrogacy agency. You will have the chance to decide with your doula what kind of support you want, but it typically includes:

  • For Surrogates: Prenatal support and education, birth preparation, support and guidance throughout labor, counseling during postpartum emotions and issues like pumping breastmilk and post-birth recovery
  • For Intended Parents: Childcare education (like classes for newborn care, hygiene, safety and for parent preparation) and postpartum, in-home support for childcare and induced lactation

Doulas who specifically deal with the surrogacy process also provide support for the relationship between the surrogate and the intended parents. Beyond coordinating birthing preferences and preparing both for the labor process, a doula takes certain steps to help involve the intended parents in the labor process. They understand that surrogacy is a partnership and that the partnership does not end during the hospital stay. In fact, some doulas are so touched by the surrogacy process that they become surrogates themselves. When you hire an experienced doula for your surrogacy, you will know you’re in good hands.

Deciding if a Doula is Right for You

Doulas have many advantages for both intended parents and surrogates, but it’s usually surrogates who suggest hiring a doula for the labor process. However, the inclusion of a doula in the labor and postpartum processes of your surrogacy is a decision that must be made by both the intended parents and the surrogate. After all, surrogacy is an intimate process, and including a doula must only be done if both parties are comfortable.

If you’re considering including a doula in your surrogacy process, your surrogacy specialist can help mediate this conversation between you and the intended parents. It’s important to do diligent research on why you think a doula is right for you if you’ve never used one before, and your specialist can also help you understand the pros and cons of using this professional. Intended parents may be more comfortable if you seek out a doula that is specifically trained in surrogacy services to maximize the benefits for both parties.

Another thing to consider is the cost of a doula. Even with a doula who specifically works with surrogacy cases, the majority of her services are tailored to the surrogate during the labor process. Therefore, not all intended parents may be comfortable paying for this extra service if they’re not familiar with the benefits. If having a doula be a part of your labor process is important to you, talk with your surrogacy specialist about how to bring up the costs of this service with the intended parents.

How to Find the Doula that’s Right for You

When you want to include a doula in your labor process, it’s important to do your research before presenting this idea to your intended parents. This means finding a professional that meets your preferences for services provided and the associated cost. Typically, a birth doula costs between $1,000 and $2,000, and a postpartum doula can cost anywhere from $35 to $60 an hour.

Many surrogates work with surrogacy-specific doulas to receive labor and postpartum care that’s tailored to their situation. These doulas should be willing to speak to you about their services before you commit to hiring them. Some professionals to consider include:

In addition, your surrogacy specialist may be able to help you find a local doula who meets your needs.

Including a doula in your surrogacy process is a personal decision to make, and it will not be right for everyone. However, if you’re interested in these services, start your research and let your surrogacy specialist know as early as possible — to best coordinate the inclusion of this professional in your surrogacy process.