8 Important Medical Procedures Involved in Surrogacy

8 Important Medical Procedures Involved in Surrogacy

Once the legal contract is in place, the surrogate and her intended parents can begin the medical aspect of surrogacy. This can be confusing for first-timers – a good understanding of how these procedures work might give useful insights into what to expect in the surrogacy process.

1. Once the surrogate mother has been matched with her intended parents, she will undergo a full medical examination with a fertility doctor. She’ll have blood drawn to evaluate her hormone levels, and to see if she might have any infectious diseases.

She’ll also undergo a sonohysterogram, which allows the doctor to evaluate the capability of her uterus to carry a pregnancy to term. If the doctor finds cysts, fibroids or endometriosis in her uterus, the process with that particular surrogate may be delayed or cancelled.

2. After all of the results have been assessed and they have met the required standards, the In Vitro Fertilization process can begin. The surrogate mother and intended parent will consult with a fertility doctor, who will guide them through this process.

The intended mother and the surrogate will receive medications – some oral, some injected – that will synchronize their menstrual cycles, stimulate the intended mother’s eggs and prepare the surrogate’s uterine lining to receive the embryos.

3. The eggs are conveyed from the intended mother in a procedure called ‘egg retrieval.’ She’s usually sedated for about an hour while the eggs are harvested.

The eggs are then taken to an embryologist, who combines them with the intended father’s sperm in a laboratory. These new embryos are then cultivated for three to five days.

4. Using a very fine catheter, the cultivated embryos are then transferred into the surrogate’s uterus. The surrogate is awake for this procedure, which isn’t painful. Medications that the surrogate has taken will cause the lining of her uterus to thicken, in order to accept the transferred embryos.

5. The surrogate mother may be advised to rest for approximately 24-72 hours following the embryo transfer, in order to ensure the best opportunity for the embryos to implant in her uterine lining.

6. Ten days later, the surrogate will have a blood test to determine whether pregnancy has been achieved. If the tests are positive, the surrogate will be advised about what further medication or hormone support she’ll need, if any.

7. Once the fertility doctor considers the pregnancy stable – usually after 12 weeks – the surrogate will be referred to her preferred obstetrician for the remainder of the pregnancy and the birth.

8. Until she delivers the baby, the surrogate’s pregnancy will be monitored by an obstetrician. She’ll undergo regular hormone monitoring and ultrasounds to check on the status of her pregnancy.

These are the typical stages in a surrogacy, although it’s important to remember that every journey is different and these steps are only a representative example.


Five First-Trimester Discomforts And How To Remedy Them

Five First-Trimester Discomforts And How To Remedy Them

Surrogate pregnancy is thrilling and amazing, whether it’s your first or not. But as you know, it can also be seriously uncomfortable – especially in the later stages, serious preparation and major lifestyle changes may be necessary.

But discomforts begin as soon as the pregnancy does, in the first trimester. Fortunately, none of them are without a solution. Here’s some advice for what to do when they arise:

1. Nausea and Vomiting.

About half of all pregnant women have experienced nausea – and sometimes vomiting – in the first trimester. This is called ‘morning sickness’ and for some unfortunate women it may persist throughout their pregnancy.

Most experts believe that morning sickness is caused by pregnancy-driven changes in hormonal levels. It seems to be aggravated by stress, travel, and certain high-protein and high-fat foods.

To lessen these symptoms, it helps to eat several small meals a day, rather than a few large ones.

A diet high in complex carbohydrates – foods like whole-wheat bread, pasta, bananas and leafy green vegetables – may also help to reduce the severity of this nausea.

2. Fatigue.

During the first trimester, you’re more likely to feel tired as your body works overtime to nourish the baby. Simple chores will be harder than usual, and you may be surprised at the effort it takes just to get out of bed.

You’ll simply need to accept that your body needs to rest more than it otherwise would. Take as many breaks or naps as you can.

3. Backache

As the baby grows, your weight will increase and your balance will change, causing backaches. Also, in preparation for childbirth, your pelvic joints will begin to loosen – this also contributes to the back strain.

To reduce the strain on your back, learn proper posture and lifting techniques.

4. Frequent Urination

Your uterus, as it grows, will press directly on the bladder. This leads to frequent urination – and can be very uncomfortable when you’re at work or in the middle of something important.

To deal with this, avoid caffeine – drink as little tea, coffee and soda as you can, since these diuretics cause you to urinate more frequently.

It also helps to completely empty your bladder every time. Never try to hold it, when you feel the urge to urinate.

Although these first-trimester discomforts do vary between individual women, it’s important for every surrogate mother to be aware of them – so that you’ll know what to do when they arise.


Five Gifts To Delight Your Intended Parents

Five Gifts To Delight Your Intended Parents

Going the extra mile for your intended parents may form a lasting bond between you. A healthy baby, of course, is the best gift you can give them – but if you want to be extra-nice, personal gifts can go a long way. They need not be expensive; in fact, it’s better for them to be more personal and symbolic.

To help you get started, here are some suggestions:

1. A photo journal of yourself during your pregnancy is an inexpensive gift that would definitely make a good keepsake for the intended parents. Be sure to write little notes along with each picture – “My third week and craving for fruits”, for instance.

Ultrasound images of the baby also make fantastic photos for the intended parents.

2. Home-made videos are another great gift suggestion. All you need is a good camera and some video editing software – the software is readily available for free on the internet, and allows you to personalize the videos.

Many doctors’ offices can give you ultrasounds of the baby, which you could also include in your video.

3. Baby products. These are inexpensive and not particularly sentimental, but very practical – the intended parents are going to need them! Things like diapers, baby powder, wipes and soaps – one way to present them would be in a gift basket.

4. Baby books. Especially for first-time intended parents, these can come in very handy. Having had your own children, perhaps you can give them something that has helped with previous pregnancies.

There’s also the option of giving something they could read to their baby – possibly a book that explains surrogacy to the child!

5. Relaxing candles/aromatherapy. Remember that taking care of a baby isn’t easy, and – as you know from your own experience – the parents do need to unwind every so-often. Gifts like this can come in very handy to assist with that.

Think less about the cost of the gift, and more about what the intended parents would need or treasure – some very thoughtful gifts can be very inexpensive.

The important thing to remember when giving to your intended parents is, ‘what would mean the most to them?’ And by going the extra mile in this way, they may give you extra consideration should they need a surrogate in the future.


Five Pregnancy Cravings and How to Safely Deal With Them

Five Pregnancy Cravings and How to Safely Deal With Them

Many surrogate mothers have experienced cravings during pregnancy for foods that they couldn’t have cared less about before. Some of these cravings are healthy for you and good for the baby, but not all of them – sometimes they can be actively dangerous.

To deal with the cravings, you need to remember to choose healthy options that resemble any unhealthy food you might be craving – you need to integrate some of those cravings for salty, sweet, sour and spicy foods into a nutritionally-balanced diet.

Here are some suggestions for healthier alternatives to commonly-craved food.

1. When you want ice-cream, go instead for non-fat frozen yogurt. This meets your calcium needs while containing far fewer calories.

2. Instead of chocolate, try drizzling some non-fat chocolate syrup onto fresh fruits.

3. Instead of candy, take dried fruits like apricots, or fresh tropical fruit such as mangoes or pineapple.

4. Instead of salty snacks, opt for popcorn sprinkled with herb blends. Sesame breadsticks with spicy mustard dip are also a good substitute.

5. When you’re craving something sour, try squeezing some lemon on your fish, or into a salad. This ensures regular but moderated intake without empty calories. Sugary lemonade can also help meet this need.

Occasionally, pregnant women crave non-food items such as paper, laundry starch and chalk. This is known as ‘pica eating’, and these desires are always best to resist – they can be harmful to you and your baby’s health.

Do your best to keep these pica cravings out of your mind – reward yourself with other treats for resisting them, possibly even unhealthier treats like chocolate.

Occasionally, these cravings can be a sign of other problems – if they persist and become bothersome, see your doctor.

Remember, food cravings are normal during pregnancy. It’s entirely possible to satisfy them while still providing your baby with the nutrients they need to grow. But don’t give in too much to your desire for high-calorie foods – they may translate into excessive weight gain, which in turn increases the risk of gestational diabetes and unhealthy blood pressure.

Instead, make sure your diet is balanced – it should include lean sources of protein, reduced-fat dairy foods, whole grains, fruit, vegetables and legumes. If your diet is generally good, a little bit of unhealthy food won’t crowd out the nutrition you and your baby need.

Keep these simple substitution tips in mind, and you can be sure that your surrogate baby will get all the nutrients it needs to properly develop.


Food Cravings During Pregnancy Explained

While food cravings are a well-known symptom of pregnancy, surrogate and otherwise, it’s still not quite understood what causes them. Some experts believe they’re meant to indicate nutritional deficiencies in a woman’s diet, while others believe that the types of food being craved are indicative of the baby’s gender.

In a recent survey, 80% of pregnant women said they’d experienced food cravings. 40% of them craved something sweet, 33% wanted salty foods, 17% craved spicy foods, and 10% craved sour and citrus fruits.

Based on these results, the top ten foods included ice cream, pickles, tomatoes and tomato sauce, lemon, cheese and chocolate. It seems relatively common for women to want animal fats – steak and pork fat, for instance.

Some women want strange combinations – black olives on cheesecake, pickles wrapped in cheese, and eggplant on pizza have all been reported. Exclusively craving a single food is also common – pickled onions, salsa and peaches seem especially popular in that regard.

Following the birth of their baby, many women for some reason experience an aversion to those same craved-for foods.

As stated, experts are divided on the explanation for these cravings – there are several theories. The more popular ones are:

1. Hormonal changes may alter a woman’s senses of taste and smell, making her want food she normally wouldn’t have enjoyed. This theory could also explain why menopausal women often experience food cravings/aversions.

2. They’re a reaction to nutritional deficiencies. For instance, a craving for pickles may indicate low sodium levels in the blood, while a vitamin B deficiency may drive a craving for chocolate. Desire for red meat could indicate a need for protein, while cravings for peaches could be a result of low beta carotene levels.

3. Emotional changes are known to be connected with food intake – a pregnant woman may crave certain foods, consciously or subconsciously, as a response to emotional needs. Often pregnant women want foods that remind them nostalgically of their childhoods, or perhaps their cultural/religious backgrounds, particularly if they haven’t eaten those foods in a while.

Remember that there’s no scientific consensus on this – no data to prove that cravings are related to biological needs, and none to prove that they (generally) are harmful.

But it’s important regardless to watch your diet while pregnant. Find healthy substitutes for the tastes your body is craving, and never deprive yourself of food in general. If problems do arise that prevent you from eating balanced meals and gaining weight as you should, check with your doctor – it may be indicative of something more serious. As a surrogate mother, your intended parents will most definitely appreciate your taking care of yourself.


Ideal Gifts for Your Surrogate Mother

Ideal Gifts for Your Surrogate Mother

A successful surrogacy journey is, in itself, a gift for everyone involved. But traditionally, gift-giving is a very common custom – many surrogate mothers and intended parents have the desire anyway to give something to the other. It might be a symbol of their friendship, a memento of the experience, or just a thank-you.

The gifts don’t have to be expensive – after all, it’s the thought that counts. Here are some suggestions.

First meeting gifts

One of the ideal gifts to give to a surrogate mother on the first meeting is something personal and home-made – baked goods, for instance.

Another good gift is something for your surrogate’s children; coloring books or small toys might be a good idea.

The really important rule for gifts at the first meeting is that it should be something thoughtful, as opposed to something expensive – really, an expensive gift is only going to make the surrogate uncomfortable.

During the transfer

This is another good time to gift your surrogate. It’s important to remember that the gift should be symbolic of the embryo transfer, or the future pregnancy. Some ideas might include fertility charms, surrogacy T-shirts, maybe pregnancy test kits bundled with pregnancy-related items.

Another angle to take could be paperback novels, DVDs, or a gift certificate to a local delivery restaurant – something to keep the surrogate mother happily occupied while she’s on bed-rest after the embryo transfer.

During pregnancy

Gifts during pregnancy are often a good idea – regularly, on some occasions, or just once.

This is an area where it’s especially important to consider the surrogate’s own personality and needs – some suggestions might be gift certificates at a local restaurant, gift baskets with bath products, or a certificate for a spa treatment.

At birth

This is the best time to give something to your surrogate mother. The gift doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive – it’s more important to celebrate the occasion.

Sentimental gifts – mementos – are the best kind; ‘name a star’, bonsai trees, perhaps an album as a keepsake. Other gifts might include something for her children,or gift certificates that she could use post-pregnancy.


What Causes Heartburn In Pregnancy – And How To Avoid It

One of the most common discomforts associated with pregnancy is acid reflux, or heartburn. Several factors associate this with pregnancy, but they boil down to hormonally-driven bodily changes.

It’s relevant that even women who had never previously suffered from acid reflux, may experience this during pregnancy. The problem usually manifests in pregnancy’s later stages, especially once the fetus has developed into full-term.

The severity does vary between women – some surrogate mothers receive very mild, tolerable and controllable symptoms, while others unfortunately experience much worse bouts. But it may help to understand just why this discomfort occurs.

One of the factors linking heartburn to pregnancy is the hormonal change that happens then – an increase in hormonal levels can drive certain changes in how the body functions.

For instance, the lower esophageal sphincter – LES – may loosen up, causing gastric acid to flow up, or ‘reflux’, into the esophagus. The main function of the LES is to prevent stomach acid from doing this, but it’s loosened by hormonal changes.

Another factor is the simple change that occurs to a woman’s body. As the baby develops and grows, the woman’s belly expands to accommodate its increasing size and the associated increase in amniotic fluid.

This can cause some amount of pressure to the esophagus and stomach, disrupting normal digestive processes and thereby causing acid reflux.

There are several ways to avoid the problem. One is to avoid foods that tend to trigger or aggravate the system – citrus fruits/juices, spicy foods, oily or fried foods, and processed food products especially. It may also be a good idea to cut down on chocolate and caffeine.

Another tip is to eat small but frequent meals throughout the day; this helps to achieve efficient digestion. Light snacks between meals will keep you from experiencing hunger pains – the point is to avoid heavy meals that put pressure on the digestive system and trigger heartburn.

Acid reflux is definitely preventable, if you observe the proper measures. Learn what to do and make changes in your eating habits to control it – and therefore enjoy a healthier and more comfortable surrogate pregnancy.


Understanding Surrogate Mothers

For the most part, surrogate mothers aren’t in it for the money. They do expect to be compensated for their considerable time and effort, but it’s not their primary motivation. We’ve found that, generally speaking, the women who make the best surrogates are the ones who are in it more for the emotional rewards.

Understanding Surrogate Mothers

After they’ve delivered, we interview our surrogates. We’ve consistently found that, of the ones who want to repeat the experience, their main motivation is the emotional reward and not the money.

A medically-qualified surrogate must have given birth at least once before, so most of our surrogate mothers have their own children. They report that one of the main reasons they want to be a surrogate is because they enjoy being a parent, love their own children – and wish to help other people achieve the same happiness.

After all, it’s an amazing gift to be able to offer: helping to create a lifelong bond between the intended parents and the baby you’re carrying for them. It’s a selfless act and an extraordinary gift; most of our surrogates find that the negative side-effects of pregnancy are more than completely justified by seeing the joy and happiness in the intended parents’ eyes.

Not that the negative side-effects are such a big deal, to the women who do best as surrogate mothers. They tend to be women who give birth easily with few complications, and feel at their healthiest when pregnant.

To them, helping other couples increases their self-esteem – because they feel they’ve
given that extraordinary gift – while making them feel fantastic.

All things considered, money is the least of what drives our surrogates. It’s a common misconception that they’re doing it for the cash – really, it’s the emotional reward, the desire to help others in their own small way.


3 Tips To Consider Before Using A Friend Or Relative As Your Surrogate Mother

3 Tips To Consider Before Using A Friend Or Relative As Your Surrogate Mother

Being told that you need a surrogate mother to carry your baby is an overwhelming experience. If you are like most intended parents, your first instinct is to ask a friend or relative to be your surrogate. You may think this is the best choice for you since you will feel comfortable knowing that your surrogate is someone that you trust to carry your child, and also because your friend or relative will probably not demand as much money as an unknown surrogate would demand, so you would save money. There some important things to consider before choosing a friend or relative to be your surrogate mother.

3 Tips To Consider Before Using A Friend Or Relative As Your Surrogate Mother

The surrogacy process is long and intense for the surrogate mother. First, she must pass medical tests before the physician will allow her to proceed as your surrogate. Another important screening test that you would have to get your friend or relative to undergo would be a psychological test. This screening test can be a bit difficult to ask from your friend or relative but it is important. The stress and emotional complications associated with the process of surrogacy can take its toll during the journey so it is better to have your friend or relative pass this important test first. Then, she must faithfully follow the complicated fertility procedure instructions, including taking injections and other medications, going to medical appointments and undergoing medical procedures. All of these steps are critical to a successful surrogacy. If your friend or relative does not follow all of the instructions she is given to the letter, the result may be a failed cycle and no pregnancy. When you use a friend or relative as your surrogate, they may not take their responsibilities as a surrogate as seriously as an unknown woman who is being paid to be your surrogate. An unknown surrogate will make sure to act responsibly because she is financially motivated to do so.

If your friend or relative does not meet all of the doctor’s medical requirements for a surrogate, you may request that the doctor allow her to proceed anyway, because she makes you feel the most comfortable and you think she is the most affordable option. While the stipend you would pay to your friend may be less, using your friend as a surrogate mother may end up costing you much more in the long run. If you friend is not medically qualified to act as your surrogate, the chances for a successful pregnancy may be dramatically decreased and you may need to repeat the fertility treatments until a pregnancy is achieved. These treatments are normally very expensive, and you may not be able to afford all of the treatments you need to have before a pregnancy is achieved. Using a friend as your surrogate may end up costing you much more than using an unknown surrogate would have cost you.

If your friend or relative is not medically qualified to be your surrogate mother, you may decide to not use her as your surrogate. This can potentially create a lot of problems in your relationship with her. Perhaps your friend or relative was really counting on the money you would have paid her to be your surrogate and is angry that you are changing your mind. Perhaps she may feel as though she is incompetent or not good enough to be your surrogate mother and feel resentful towards you. You might blame your friend or relative in the event that the fertility treatments fail and be angry with her. You might be resentful of your friend or relative if she insists on being your surrogate despite not being medically qualified since she may be hurting your chances of having a baby.

Getting someone you know involved with your surrogacy journey may seem like a good plan to you. In reality there are very few times when using a friend or relative as a surrogate mother are as low-cost, successful and stress-free as the intended parents had planned. Using someone you know often increases the treatment costs and chances for emotional conflict and decreases the chances of success. It is more preferable to use a surrogate referred by a reliable surrogate agency. Surrogate agencies have pre-screened these surrogates by reviewing their medical records and background history. These surrogates from surrogate agencies are medically qualified to carry a child to term. They are emotionally stable and know exactly what their responsibilities are on your surrogacy journey. To ensure a stress free surrogacy, it would be better to trust surrogacy agencies that know exactly how to support and help you with this journey.