Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy’
October 29th, 2013
Intended parents, industry professionals and most importantly gestational carriers might have concerns about what a gestational surrogate may experience after the baby they have been carrying for someone else for the past nine months – and rightly so. This is a big deal, it’s a huge responsibility and there are many emotions involved.
We know that many intended parents have a positive, healthy, and great relationship with their gestational surrogate. It’s normal for them to worry about her after the baby is born. How is she going to feel? With there be feelings of attachment to the baby? Will their gestational surrogate want to bond with the baby? With them? Their family? Because many women experience post-partum depression after pregnancy will this possibly hit her harder because she gave the baby she was carrying back to the intended parents? And last but not least – is she going to feel lonely, unsupported, maybe even used? These are all real worries that most intended parents have when embarking upon their surrogacy journey.
Yes, a gestational surrogacy pregnancy is different than having a baby of your own. However, a pregnancy is a pregnancy is a pregnancy and post-partum depression still happens and those feelings can be increased through surrogacy. Why? Lots of reasons – if the gestational surrogate isn’t worried about the feelings of attachment or even detachment from the baby – she might feel alone, lonely for her intended parents. After all, she’s spent a lot of time with her intended parents communicating with them – and so has her family. She and her family might have had daily contact with their intended parents talking about all kinds of things – personal things. Let’s face it nothing is more personal than having a baby right? For some gestational surrogates the intended parents accompany her to the embryo transfer, the ultrasound, OBGYN appointments and delivery.
Emotions after delivery often run deep and it’s understandable how a gestational surrogate might feel sad, confused, or even abandoned. These are all normal kinds of feelings to have. Sharon LaMothe gestational surrogacy industry professional is spot on with her analysis:
“The message has been sent that feeling detached at birth is a good thing which, by human nature, is not a normal emotion when a baby is brought into this world. We want moms and babies to bond…but in this case it isn’t what the Intended Parents want to have happen unless it’s them doing the bonding! Add on top of this the fact that the Surrogate has become very attached to her Intended Parents. Because communication usually ramps up near the end of the pregnancy, with more phone calls, appointments and plans, IPs and their surrogate can be closer emotionally than ever before. Although the Surrogate is preparing her family for the eventful day and the Intended Parents are checking their list to make sure all is in order on their end, the possibility of some sort of depression or even regret sneaking in can take everyone involved by surprise.”
What we do know about post-partum depression (PPD) occurs in roughly 15-20% of women anywhere from 4-8 weeks after delivery. Women who often have a tougher time with PPD are those who have experienced PMS, who have undergone major emotional stressors in their life, lack of family or social support during pregnancy, or have had previous anxiety issues.
What does PPD feel like? It can come in many forms – bouts of crying or tearfulness, not being able to sleep, excessive tiredness (more than what’s to be expected after giving birth), not being able to concentrate, suicidal thoughts, feeling depressed, not wanting to get out of bed, change in appetite, feeling inadequate, the inability to enjoy things you used to. Not being able to care for your family.
The causes of PPD don’t change because of gestational surrogacy they are the same for every woman who’s given birth but there are different factors to consider regarding surrogacy. Aside from the normal drastic change in hormone levels in the body ( estrogen, progesterone and cortisol decreasing rapidly and considerably after delivery), maybe not feeling great, pain if she’s had a c-section, feeling less attractive in all areas the gestational surrogate is not going to be taking a baby home to care for. That baby has been handed over to the intended parents which can be overwhelming for anyone.
So what can a gestational carrier do for self-care?
Eat well, rest well, let your family care for you, and accept help. This isn’t a time to curl up and avoid the world – embrace the world, don’t isolate, reach out to other gestational surrogates and talk to them about their experiences, write about it and seek professional help if necessary. Above all don’t push yourself – remember you’ve just had a baby, given a set of intended parents with one of the most precious gift of all their child – so yes, you are super woman but that doesn’t mean you have to wear the cape all the time!
To learn more about The Surrogacy SOURCE and their gestational carrier program, please visit us at http://thesurrogacysource.com, one of our experienced caring staff will be happy to assist you in your journey to parenthood, or help you to become a surrogate mother.
October 4th, 2013
Whether you are a pregnant intended mother or a pregnant gestational surrogate carrying for intended parents it’s important to be in the best shape you can be during your pregnancy.
• See your care provider regularly – this one is a no brainer right? Regular prenatal checkups are key to a healthy pregnancy. If you suspect you are running any kind of fever, or have any sort of infection call your care provider right away. Same goes if you spot, bleed, have any sort of discharge that isn’t normal to you, or pain.
• Eat well — that means a balanced diet with enough folic acid. Eat from the four food groups and drink 96 ounces of water a day. Stay hydrated! If you aren’t sure what you should be eating ask your care provider about the right kinds of foods to eat in pregnancy.
• Be active! It used to be thought many years ago that pregnant women needed to lay around and stay quiet – no so anymore. Women who have no complications in their pregnancy are encouraged to get regular exercise – walking, swimming, strength conditioning. Stay hydrated, don’t exercise if you aren’t feeling good or if it’s really hot. Talk to your care provider about those sports and exercises you can safely participate in.
• Don’t scrimp on the Z’s (get plenty of rest) – the baby inside of you is going to increase in size 6 million times! It’s going to take from you to grow that means you need to maintain your rest. Go to bed earlier, get up later, and the best part – take naps! If sleep evades you like it can just lay down and try to be quiet putting your feet up as whenever you can. This is a great time to begin to share housework or other household chores with your partner if you have one. The bigger you get (as your pregnancy advances) begin lying on your left side – and be generous with pillows. One under your belly, one in the small of your back and maybe one between your knees.
• Before you take any medicine talk to your care provider even if they are over the counter. Some OTC meds have been linked to birth defects its always better to be safe than sorry.
• Be proactive and avoid all harmful substances. We know the usual suspects – no smoking, no drinking, and things like paint, varnish, glue, fumes, and some hair dyes are dangerous.
• This isn’t a time to be a dare devil or an acrobat – you are bigger now, your joints are not as stable as they were when you were not pregnant, your belly is ever expanding. Your center of gravity has changed – you won’t be as solid on your feet. Think twice about biking or roller skating – your risk of falling has increased. And please avoid climbing ladders okay? For that matter stay off chairs to hang curtains – ask for help.
Always wear your seat belt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle or plane.
July 16th, 2013
One of the most selfless things one woman can do for another is to become a gestational surrogate. This isn’t a walk in the park, it’s not easy, and you are going to need a lot of support from friends and family. However, it’s going to rate right up there as one of the most fulfilling things you will ever embark on aside from having your own children. That’s why it’s incredibly important to remember that the support you receive from your friends and family are going to be what helps you those most in dealing with all of those crazy emotions you might feel during pregnancy.
Education is going to be your best tool when deciding to become a surrogate. Educating yourself, your husband (or partner), your folks, your siblings, your kids all about surrogacy will help as you go through the process.
So when should you tell?
We think the best time to tell your immediate family about your choice to become a surrogate mother is when you yourself have decided that this is something you really want to do and you’ve made a firm decision to become a surrogate. Write down your reasons so they are clear in your head so you can see in black and white the purpose of your choice and what made you decide to want to become a surrogate mother. Honesty is always the best policy always when talking to your family about your desire – because they all need to be on board for this to work the way it’s supposed to.
When you talk to your kids about your choice to become a surrogate mother teach them that its going to take time – 9 months most likely. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight, next week, or even next month. Share with them that it took them 9 months to be born and that all great things take time to make and this is no exception. Like anything important when we talk to our kids we need to realize that it’s all in the presentation. If you don’t make it weird, if you treat is with sensitivity your kids will respond in kind. And whatever you do don’t just dump your decision on them the week before you have an embryo transfer. No one likes or appreciates information overload – and your kids are no different. Introduce the idea of you becoming a surrogate over a period of time. You might for instance what to have them meet the intended parents if that’s possible or maybe a Skype session with them. During this time both parties can talk about families and how all different kinds of families are made and how you are going to help this set of parents become a Mommy and Daddy like you and your partner letting your kids take the lead and ask the questions they need to ask to become comfortable.
Regarding your friends and family – there’s two schools of thought on this. One school of thought is to not let your choice be known to be a surrogate right away. Many say that it’s best to let your decision to carry a pregnancy for another come up in conversation naturally – be happy, at ease, and confident about your choice. Again, if you aren’t weird about it the reception of others around you won’t be either. If you are scared, or nervous about how they might react they are going to sense that and odds are they are going to worry about the effect this might have on you and question your decision.
The other school of thought is to begin sharing your desire to become a gestational surrogate right away with your family and close friends. That you can talk through your reasons and motivations in carrying a baby for another who can’t carry on their own. This way you can garner support early on and that these kinds of conversations are helpful and beneficial in the decision making process.
Now keep in mind that it’s possible that you might find some resistance – and some won’t accept or agree with your choice to become a surrogate mother. If this is something you are set on doing then don’t allow their opinions to sway your choice.
Will your surrogate pregnancy affect those around you who are closest to you? Of course it will and if you think it won’t you are fooling yourself. That’s why is really important for your friends and family to be educated, prepared and supportive of you. Their support is going to play a big factor in the success of the cycle and pregnancy.
What about the baby they might ask. It should be made clear and understood the baby you are having is for another family not your family. This baby will never be a member of your family. It’s not going to be a cousin, a brother, a sister, niece, nephew, or a grandchild. We can’t emphasize enough that your children need to realize clearly they aren’t going to get another baby sister or baby brother and what you are doing is for someone else that can’t have a baby on their own.
Lean on your surrogacy agency, your care provider, friends, family or therapist to help you with the explanation of some of this information – it can sometimes be complicated.
Being a gestational surrogate is going to be one of the most generous acts of kindness you will ever give to another. You will be creating new bonds during this time that will affect your entire family and support circle. It’s a time to rejoice that you are helping someone else become a mother or a father.
July 16th, 2013
Regardless of whether you are carrying a pregnancy yourself or your gestational surrogate is carrying your baby for you the two week for a positive pregnancy result wait might as well be the two year wait! Everyone involved is always on pins and needles waiting!
Also, it doesn’t matter if this is your first two week wait or your fifth to manage it, to get through it, to survive you have to develop a strategy – better yet a system.
I know, I know, some might say – “Oh gosh it’s just two weeks out of your entire life” and my reply to that is – “Two weeks is a really long time to wait to find out something that is so incredibly important to you and your partner.”
There are lots of ways you can survive. Some create systems that are complicated with lots of rules. Some intended parents or gestational surrogates take fastidious notes regarding symptoms or lack of symptoms. Then many intended parents or their GS’s often POAS (Pee on a stick). That decision can be excruciating and it’s incredibly controversial. Many test early and often – I am an early tester. There is no way I want the nurse on the other end of the phone to be giving me the bad news – I want to already know it and get the ugly cry out of the way. Because we take so many drugs during this time we can drive ourselves nuts with symptoms and that’s a reason why some intended parents just don’t test and wait for the beta.
My first tip:
DISTRACT YOURSELF (Sung to Madonna’s Respect Yourself).
It doesn’t matter what the activity. Sort a sock drawer. Alphabetize and categorize your movie collection. Clean your silver. Clean your home and all of the closets. Keep your daily routine. Go to the gym if your doctor says yes. Start a new craft project. Play games. Organize anything you can get your hands on – (photo’s, books, CD,’s). Start a new book – something funny and light that can sail you through the next two weeks. Talk on the phone, call friends you haven’t talked to in a while but have been meaning to. Email all your friends.
What else –
• If you aren’t undergoing acupuncture go now it’s can’t hurt. Go for a long drive – go check out the part of town or the city or country you have been
• Listen to your favorite music or meditations on CD
• Read something light and funny
• Watch a video or go to the movies
• Chat on the phone, email all your friends
• Sit on a park bench and people-watch
• Make a list of things you’ve never seen in your town (stores or tourist sites you haven’t been to) and then go see them
• How about the zoo? Been there in a while?
• Museums are great time wasters.
• Start an online game –those can pass the time quickly.
• Walk a dog (yours, a friends, or volunteer at a local rescue)
• Get a pedicure
• Retail therapy – GO SHOPPING!
• Cooking! Make that dish you have been meaning to.
• Watch all of the past episodes of The Barefoot Contessa, Master Chef, or Hell’s Kitchen!
• For that matter go on a trash TV marathon!
• Invite a friend over for decaf coffee or tea. Serve fresh Pineapple for the fresh bromelain…
• Check out your local bookstore or library
• Research a place you’d like to vacation
Try going to brunch, or a picnic. How about a club that is smokeless? Garden, plant flowers, go sunbathing! You can always rough it and go camping, take in a lovely sunset, go to the beach—are you looking for a new church or synagogue? I know for me, ice cream makes everything better.
The ideas are endless – the message is, stay busy! And before you know it your beta test or your gestational surrogates beta test will be here.
And then you are on to your next milestone! The first ultrasound!
Hang in there – we are by the sidelines cheering you on!
June 5th, 2013
As an intended parent one of the most important decisions you are going to be making as you embark upon gestational surrogacy is who will carry and deliver your baby. It can be a scary time. It can be a happy time as well as an overwhelming time – and many who have gone before you will tell you it’s truly an adventure of a life time!
Your partners in all of this are going to be your surrogacy agency, your lawyer, and most importantly your Reproductive Endocrinologist. Your doctor is going to look over and screen your potential gestational surrogate’s entire medical history. Your IVF doctor will be looking for anything that would suggest your gestational surrogate / gestational carrier (GS / GC) might be a risk for complications during pregnancy, miscarriage risks, or anything that would indicate that she wouldn’t be a good candidate for gestational surrogacy. Your doctor is going to want to know if the potential GS is able to carry twins. Would she have any sort of medical issues that would cause the pregnancy to be a risk. Things like that.
Next the potential GS will have a physical exam as well as other kinds of testing. Her uterus will be examined, she will undergo blood work. If she’s married or partnered her partner will have his or her own blood work for infectious disease screening. The GS will have her previous pregnancy history examined to look for things like miscarriage, premature delivery, gestational diabetes, how her delivery went, bleeding issues etc… The doctor will leave no stone unturned as he or she will review everything focusing on any sort of risk factors.
What’s the ideal gestational surrogate? A woman who’s had at least one successful pregnancy before that’s gone full term without any complications. It helps if the GS has carried for other parents and shown she can carry a baby healthily and safely with having no emotional issues with giving the baby(s) to you the intended parent and then move on with whatever relationship both parties have intended. The potential GS will also meet with a psychologist or therapist to talk about potential emotional issues and if the GS is emotionally prepared to take on the huge responsibility of carrying your baby, the ability to carry the baby safely and healthily and last but not least the ability to give your baby to you after delivery in a healthy way.
When we think of gestational surrogates we have this woman in mind that is height and weight appropriate – healthy, has easy pregnancies and even easier deliveries. Intended parents are looking for that “something” that’s going to tell them equivocally that this GS is “the one” someone who stands apart from everyone else they may have interviewed.
As you wade through profiles and finally move on to interviews you might want to keep this list handy and in the back of your mind when talking to potential gestational surrogates.
• Does this GS demonstrate that she’s committed 100000% to the cycle, pregnancy and the entire surrogacy process?
• How easily do you think or your agency think she will be to communicate with? For instance how easy is she to reach? Does she have more than one method of communication that as intended parents you can reach her by?
• This might seem elementary (no pun intended) but how well can the GS follow the directions given to her by her doctor? Or agency? Or yourself? How proactive is she to call her doctor if she has ANY questions or if there is ANYTHING she doesn’t understand?
• What does she tell you about her diet? Is she a person who eats good, healthy food? Drinks plenty of water and tries to stay away from fast-food, junk food, and stuff that’s not great for her?
• What’s her take about cigarette smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy? The answer should be “I am not a smoker and I do not drink any alcohol as well as limit my caffeine use during pregnancy” If she says anything other than that – pass.
• Will she put your needs and your babies needs first in front of her during the pregnancy? How does she feel about selective reduction or termination of a pregnancy?
• Does the GS like to be healthy, active, and exercise? Being in the best shape possible is incredibly important during pregnancy.
• What kind of family support does the GS have? Does she have a good support network besides yourself, the agency, and her doctor?
• It’s been said over and over a good gestational surrogate doesn’t need the money she is going to earn by carrying your baby. What’s your GS say about the money part of things. Is the extra money just for a rainy day or is the money she is depending upon. That’s something you want to iron out early before you commit.
• How educated is your GS about the whole process. How does she feel about talking to others about what she’s doing and educating them about what she’s doing?
The relationship you will have with your GS is going to last a lifetime. This will always be someone who will have a special place in your heart as well as your children’s life. That’s why it’s incredibly important that when you select a GS you choose wisely and choose a GS that’s going to be a great fit within your family.
Another way to look at this is selecting a GS is sort of like dating – Dating you say? Yes, dating, in that when we date another we are doing what? Gathering information about the other person. Discovering what we have in common. Are they a good fit? Do they mesh with my belief systems? Are they a good person? How many times in your life have you met someone you thought was amazing but shortly thereafter found they weren’t as amazing as you might have liked?
Granted you are not going to have a romantic relationship with your gestational surrogate – but you are going to be involved intimately in each other’s life – and when we say intimately we don’t mean again in any sort of romantic way we mean this person is going to be carrying your baby and there’s nothing more intimate than that –seriously.
There’s so much to talk about – How much involvement do you plan to have with your GS during the cycle, pregnancy and after your children are born? Are you going to want frequent interaction? Do you want regular updates? How hands-on are you going to want to be? The majority of gestational surrogates welcome, and encourage their intended parents to be hands-on. They love to share with their intended parent’s weekly progress – they love to be connected as much as possible. And why wouldn’t they? They are carrying precious cargo for YOU! After your baby(s) are born what kind of contact and/or relationship do you foresee having with your GS? Is she going to be a special Aunt? Or someone you connect with once a year. Will this person serve any role as your children grow through their childhood – through the teen years and beyond?
As you see – there is so much to think about when selecting a Gestational Surrogate. This means surround yourself with the best possible people beginning with your REI, the surrogacy agency, a great surrogacy consultant, a wonderful lawyer, a great therapist, a great OBGYN, and most importantly an amazing Gestational Surrogate.
May 15th, 2013
Lots of intended parents look at gestational surrogacy purely as a business arrangement, while it is a business arrangement it’s also something much more. Let’s face it when intended parents embark upon a gestational surrogacy cycle its new for them – there’s so much unchartered territory to navigate through. Aside from all that it’s downright expensive so heck yes keeping your mind on the dollars part of this is normal.
I can’t help but think that the contract and business piece of this arrangement is just the beginning much like conception of a pregnancy! Yes, the Gestational Surrogate is being compensated for her time, trouble, pain and inconvenience to herself as well as her family; however, the many surrogate mothers I have talked to over the years tell me that they do this because they want to help. Their own pregnancies have been easy and seamless and this seems like a great way to help another family who can’t do what she’s able to do and also perhaps help her family.
Think of it like this – while your Surrogate Mother will form a bond with your baby she is also creating a lifelong bond with you! Carrying a baby for you is what’s making her very happy and just think how joyful she’s going to feel when that baby is placed in your arms.
When you select a gestational surrogate to carry a baby on your behalf you are going to be forging a lifetime relationship. It’s important for you to think about the type of personal involvement you visualize with your surrogate mother – during the IVF cycle, throughout the pregnancy and of course after your baby is born and as your child grows older.
What kind of a person are you? Are you a person who’s going to want a relationship with your surrogate mother? Are you for instance a “hands on” person who’s going to want to have regular interaction with your gestational surrogate in addition to regular updates about the pregnancy and her prenatal care? Many surrogate mothers enjoy regular contact from their intended parents. It helps make the process more personal. What kind of relationship do you want to have with your surrogate mother even after your baby is born? What kind of role do you want your surrogate mother to play in your child’s life? When you explore the above and can answer those questions it’s going to help you decide what kind of relationship you might embark upon with your surrogate mother it and becomes easier to identify the surrogate mother who is going to be most compatible with your family-building ideals and child-raising values.
First thing’s first – talk, talk, and then talk some more. You can’t talk too much when you are in the discovery phase of selecting a gestational surrogate. Once your surrogate mother is selected treat her how you’d like to be treated. Learn about her likes, her dislikes, what bugs her, what causes her anxiety, what makes her happy. Much like you. Regardless of how we look at this – selecting an egg donor or a gestational surrogate is much like dating, this is all about cultivating a forming a relationship.
See a therapist who specializes in fertility – I can’t emphasize that piece enough. A therapist will help you through those portions of the cycle that you both might feel weird about. For instance you might want to know how the surrogate mother is going to feel when she has the baby and the baby is then given to you. Maybe you might feel weird asking that question.
And again, I know this sounds like a broken record but talk, talk and talk some more. It goes both ways the line of communication need to remain open for all parties to be on the same page.
Remember your surrogate mother is wanting nothing more than to make you, the intended parent, happy and feeling good and secure about the choice they made in contracting with her to carry your baby. Again, because this is much like dating sometimes intended parents don’t really know what to say or how to break the ice. This is a woman you don’t know, who is a stranger who’s going to open up her life, her family and her uterus for you so you can become a parent. Kind of intimidating yes?
Skype, call or if you can go see her. Meet her in person. Bring her a small gift, hug her, and send her a card. Let her know how appreciative of her you are. Its super important you are compatible with her and feel comfortable exchanging information and communicating with her.
Schedule regular meetings with her – once a week at least to see how she’s doing or if just to see if she needs anything. This is a great way to show your support. Now I know no one likes anyone looking over their shoulder or micromanaged – these women have been pregnant before they know what it’s like to be pregnant so keep in mind there’s a fine balance! While you don’t want her to feel like she’s a bug under a microscope you don’t want her to feel all alone either.
There’s a lot of trust that goes into this process. Your surrogate mother has common sense and you have to trust her to use it – that means you have to trust her regarding what she eats, how much she sleeps, her overall health, her ability to make her OB appointments and other medical testing that goes with pregnancy.
It’s all about letting go – and relinquishing control which is really hard for anyone to do especially infertility patients who have had to already let go of so much control already regarding their reproductive choices. However, this is imperative if you are going to stay sane throughout this entire process and maintain a positive relationship with your gestational carrier.
The Surrogacy SOURCE staff is here to help guide you through the process, from start to finish (choosing a surrogate mother to joining you at her delivery of your baby).
For more information on The Surrogacy SOURCE, or to view our roster of available surrogates, please visit us at : http://www.TheSurrogacySOURCE.com
May 10th, 2013
Dealing with infertility and accepting the reality you need help having a baby is often difficult. We “What if” ourselves a lot. We bargain. We cry. We become angry. So when we hear the news that to have a child we need to rely on a gestational carrier not only can that be a big pill to swallow we need to think about if this is something we are ready for.
Making the choice to have a baby via gestational surrogacy is a decision that is going to affect a lot of people. Because of how intimate and delicate these situations are it can take a toll on everyone’s emotions. There is so much to take in, work through, process and consider – the feelings of your surrogate as well as her family, your unborn baby, as well as yourself.
• The biggest question you must ask yourself is how you feel about someone else other than yourself carrying a baby on your behalf?
• If you are married or partnered are you both on the same page? Are you both ready? If you are single do you have a good support system to help you through this process?
• Are you ready to make the leap from your current fertility treatment to the next stage which is surrogacy?
• Have you thought about how you are going to talk about gestational surrogacy and the explanations surrounding this to your family, your friends and most importantly to your child?
Then of course you have to think about selecting a gestational carrier, the time commitment from all parties, the medical procedures that will be required, the legal process that is going to be involved, travel considerations, what a gestational surrogate pregnancy will look like, the delivery plan and all of the post-delivery details.
All of these things can be talked through, worked out and processed with the help of a professional team to help you navigate and facilitate the experience.
Your team should consist of:
• A psychologist who is familiar with infertility and third party reproduction. He or she will help you talk through the feelings you may be having regarding infertility, grief, surrogacy, your treatment plan, pregnancy, bonding and parenting.
• An experienced surrogacy agency that will facilitate and coordinate your entire process – from A-Z. Your agency is the glue that keeps everything stuck together.
• An experienced fertility clinic that is your medical team that will do the medical piece of the surrogacy cycle.
• An experienced lawyer who is well versed in surrogacy, third party reproduction and the laws pertaining to that.
• A strong support system – friends, family, or community that you can lean on during the cycle.
• And last but not least – your surrogate. Finding the right surrogate takes time. It’s important to find a gestational surrogate that’s going to be a good fit for you and your family.
Granted there’s lots to think about as you make the leap from carrying a baby yourself to contracting with a surrogate to carry your baby on your behalf. However, surrogate cycles are done every day, all over the world and there are many happy, healthy outcomes. It just takes work, commitment, and patience.
We hope this takes a little of the stress off your decision making. For more information on using a surrogate mother through gestational surrogacy, please check out our website at http://www.TheSurrogacySOURCE.com
April 17th, 2013
Regardless of whether you are carrying your own pregnancy or are a gestational surrogate being prepared for a baby should begin at least three months before conception occurs. It’s kind of like scouting – “Always be prepared!” The results are better for you and the baby – healthy you means healthy baby.
This means interview and visit the OBGYN that will be following you through your pregnancy. At this time you will discuss your personal health history, your families personal health history – like how were your mother’s pregnancies, how were her deliveries, did every female in your family deliver early, or require a C-section, or develop gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. This is also the time to make sure all your vaccines are up to date, especially rubella and chicken pox. These vaccines can’t be given during pregnancy and its bad news to contract these two diseases while pregnant. Your OBGYN might talk to you about things like – if you have a cat someone else will need to change the litter due to a bug in cat poop called toxoplasmosis. If you contract that during pregnancy it can be life-threatening to little developing babies – and because of that pregnant women are advised to wear gloves when we garden and not to eat meat that’s undercooked – it won’t kill you to eat medium well steak throughout your pregnancy – honest. You might talk about potential weight gain, receive a prescription for prenatal vitamins and be advised to see the dentist before conception – this makes sure your teeth are ship-shape.
Okay so the day has come and the pregnancy test is positive – now what?
Keep it simple, and keep your stress at bay. We hear about stress all the time – how much is too much? There’s good stress and bad stress. Deciding how much is too much is a hard call. We live in a world today that requires so much out of us – careers, family demands, going to school, navigating through infertility, it all adds up. And let’s face it those of us career gals – changing careers or leaving our career to have a baby can really do a number on our stress levels. Can I hear an Amen to that?
It’s going to seem like forever before you meet your baby – we have been working towards and waiting for this goal for a very long time. But there’s a reason we don’t conceive and have a child in 7 days. Our bodies AND minds need to prepare and get ready. Things like being anxious about something as elementary as being a parent – you have 9 months to work that out. And take it from me – it’s a never ending worry – so you might as well get used to it. If you are worried about pregnancy or childbirth, again, you have 9 months to work through those anxieties, and work it out. You have 9 months to think about your career, and the other adjustments you will have to make about becoming a parent.
Most importantly we also know that chronic stress weakens our immune systems, can cause low birth weight, and in some instances can cause premature labor – so create boundaries that will work for you, stay Zen, mediate, see a therapist, lean on family or friends, but the bottom line do what you need to do to make your pregnancy as stress free as possible.
Eating right and eating well
While pregnancy isn’t the time to diet – it’s not the time to go overboard and disregard healthy eating. You have a baby on board – and the thought to always remember – what you eat the baby eats. So if you reach for the pop, candy, chips, and junk, you are feeding your baby that directly.
A balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and carbs will provide your baby with the nutrients they need to grow inside your belly. And don’t rely on just your prenatal vitamin to cover your nutritional needs – you need to combine your prenatal vitamin and a good diet to carry you through your pregnancy.
This means there are some no-no items that you should never ingest when you are pregnant. Anything that could possibly contain Listeria which is a bacteria that can cross the placenta and cause miscarriage. For instance any cheese that is NOT made from pasteurized milk don’t eat it. There are imported cheeses like brie, feta or camembert – if they are not pasteurized again don’t eat them. Read the package. Don’t eat raw eggs, raw milk, or any other kind of meat that’s raw. Steak tartar is a no-no. Leave the sashimi alone for 9 months, don’t eat homemade ice cream (raw eggs), and then there’s different kinds of fish and seafood which have high levels of mercury – you don’t eat those very often, and you read your labels.
This should be a no-brainer – do not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes or use illegal or recreational drugs. When you smoke your baby smokes. When you drink your baby drinks. Now the jury’s out on coffee – we know that caffeine does go right to the baby’s blood stream lots of women continue to drink coffee throughout their pregnancy. Check with your doctor to learn what he or she thinks is an okay amount to drink.
Here is my PSA on water – 96 ounces of water a day keeps pre-term labor away. Dehydration is the leading cause of pre-term labor. Water is the body’s transportation system. It transports vitamins, nutrition and a whole bunch of other great things to your baby during pregnancy. So drink your water, eat water filled fruits and vegetables – watermelon, cucumbers, celery. Drink caffeine free herbal teas cleared by your doctor – and drink low fat milk. Just stay hydrated.
Let’s talk about over the counter meds for second
Before you start reaching for the Tylenol, allergy meds, or ibuprofen check with your doctor first. Again whatever you ingest goes right to the baby. I am sure you are wondering which medication is safe during pregnancy. Well here’s the deal – there’s no easy answer to all of this. The FDA labels the safety of prescription medication with the labels of A, B, C, D, or X. (Category A medications have not shown any risk to the fetus. Category B medications, which include ibuprofen, also are not believed to pose a risk to the fetus. Category C medications may cause complications for a baby in utero but haven’t really been studied in people. Category D medications, which include chemotherapy agents, present distinct health risks but may still be used in some instances. Category X drugs are known to cause birth defects and should never be used during pregnancy)
When in doubt call your OBGYN and ask.
Move that body of yours.
Once you get the green light from your doctor to exercise – like Nike says “Just do it” – not only is it safe it’s a fabulous idea! Why? Because 30 minutes of exercise each day really does help annoying things like constipation, backaches, it helps you sleep better, it improves your mood, and helps with fatigue. All of those common complaints of pregnancy. When we work out during pregnancy we are helping improve our strength and our muscle tone. This not only helps you with labor and delivery which is the equivalent of a half marathon it helps us pace ourselves, cope with the pain of the above and cuts our recovery time in half from delivery. In some cases exercise can help alleviate morning sickness.
Things like yoga, walking, and swimming help with blood pressure. Regardless of the kinds of exercise you choose to do whether you are a runner, or a weight lifter don’t overdo it – and check with your doctor.
Speaking of over doing it – we know when we are pregnant we don’t turn into these fragile flowers that will crumble the moment we break a sweat. But this isn’t the time to become “She-Ra” either. We know that just because we are pregnant life doesn’t just stop and say “Okay we will wait until morning sickness and fatigue are over” and many of us begin to make those “to do” lists and tackle those things we’ve been putting off. Regardless of what project you decide to take on, whether it be decorating a new nursery, cleaning out closets, reorganizing, or moving your house around learn to recognize when you are over doing it. For instance, if you being to feel faint or dizzy – STOP AND REST – HELLO? When that happens your body is telling you it needs more of that all-important oxygen rich blood because your body isn’t keeping up. Some of us get short of breath because the baby takes up space and our lungs squish – but if you have to catch your breath then you need to ease up on your activity level. The Mayo Clinic says don’t let your heart rate go above 140 beats per minute, and rest until it returns to normal.
And above all – STAY HYDRATED. If you are thirsty it’s your body’s way of saying “I am dehydrated!” So drink up.
Let’s talk about cravings
We all get them – they are a necessary evil of pregnancy! For a lot of pregnant women cravings of food that’s not wonderful for our body happens. You know the kind – stuff with lots of fat, rich foods, loads of sugar, high in carbs and salt? This isn’t a time to feel guilty – give in once in a while and indulge yourself with a treat. It’s really okay to have that chip, or cake, or macaroni and cheese –but make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet first.
When is a craving not a craving but something to talk to your doctor about? Sometimes women who crave ice cubes are really anemic. While ice cubes don’t do a thing for anemia many women who crave ice cubes are anemic. If you want salt it’s because your body is balancing the extra fluid it’s creating to host a pregnancy. If you crave non-food stuff like dirt, toothpaste, chalk or charcoal that’s something called “Pica”. This means that your body might be not getting enough of a specific vitamin or a mineral. Don’t give into those kinds of cravings – so don’t eat the above, talk to your doctor and see if you can troubleshoot the problem.
Get your Zzzzzz’s
The first trimester of pregnancy is infamous for exhaustion. We could easily sleep round the clock and then some. And rightly so – our body is going through so many changes, and let’s not forget about those pesky hormones. So sleep early and often – or when your body says to sleep, sleep.
During the second trimester we get a reprieve – albeit a small and brief one, but we do get a reprieve. While you may feel like you can conquer the world during this trimester, still bank on 8-9 hours of much needed sleep each night because by the time you hit the third trimester you are going to find that sleeping is harder to do especially during long stretches of time. For instance if you were a stomach sleeper, you can forget that. Now it’s on your right or left side – as sleeping on your back won’t work either because of the Vena Cava that runs down the underside of your uterus. Compressing that cuts off the blood supply to your baby and can make you feel dizzy or faint. Side sleeping is what you will need to do.
Insomnia is typical during pregnancy, our body is preparing to feed a new life every 2 hours. So Mother Nature was brilliant in designing our bodies to wake up frequently during the third trimester to prepare. That means you might be more tired and fatigued during the day. Rest anytime you can – nap during your lunch hour, or after work, or whenever – your body and mind will thank you later.
It’s okay to complain – no really it is.
It may have taken something short of a miracle to conceive but now that we are pregnant it doesn’t mean that we feel great all the time. It’s really feel thankful AND complain. The #1 ranking complaint – heartburn. This bad boy strikes any time during pregnancy but it will rear its ugly head as your belly gets bigger. Progesterone is a hormone that loosen the ligaments in our body to help our pelvis and uterus to expand to accommodate the baby. This also hormone also slows down digestion causing constipation, it also loosens the valve that keeps your stomach acids from coming back up through the esophagus causing GERD.
Keeping heartburn at bay we find that eating small meals during the day, sitting upright for an hour after a meal helps. Medications that your doctor says are okay help. If heartburn happens at night use extra pillows to prop your body up and allow you to sleep in a reclined position.
How about those leg cramps? Don’t you just love them – Not! These happen during the second and third trimesters the most. The reasons for leg cramps are vast – however, dehydration as well as the baby growing and putting pressure on our spine is the #1 cause. You can combat leg cramps with a preemptive strike — stretching, but don’t point your toes because that can cause a cramp. Walking helps, massaging your legs help, heating pads can help, so can a warm bath (but not too warm).
If your back hurts you – check out your foot wear. I know that high heels are cute, but get rid of them at least during your pregnancy. Wear a shoe that’s supportive. Now may also be the time to hit your partner up for a new bed. This would also be a great time to keep your posture in check, don’t sit at your desk for too long, stretch, walk around, move your body and circulate your blood.
During pregnancy we can be moody – with a capital “M”. We cry more easily, we are often anxious, overwhelmed and sometimes things just don’t make sense. This is the time when we need to be reaching out to friends, family, our care providers and those we trust for help.
Just remember – there are those before you who have gone through the same thing, and there will be those after you going through the same thing. You are not alone – you can do this – you are doing this – and whether you are a gestational surrogate or a first time mom – what you are experiencing is an amazing rite of passage – embrace it and savor it because you are amazing!
April 1st, 2013
The terms Surrogate Mother and Gestational Carrier are often intermixed and sometimes that’s confusing. They are both women who choose to carry a pregnancy for those who cannot carry a pregnancy to term without help. I am going to use the term “surrogate mother” for traditional surrogacy and the term “gestational carrier” for surrogacy where there is no genetic connection on the part of the surrogate for my blog post to keep the confusion at bay.
Did you know there are two kinds of surrogates?
There are traditional surrogates. These are women who use their own egg and are artificially inseminated by the intended fathers or donor sperm. The surrogate mother carries the baby, delivers that baby and then gives that baby to the parents to raise. The traditional surrogate mother is the baby’s biological mother because it’s her egg that was fertilized by the intended father’s sperm.
Now day’s gestational surrogacy is used for most of the surrogacy cycles in the USA. This is a woman who carries a baby that has been conceived using the egg of the intended mother, or an egg donor and sperm from the intended father or a sperm donor. A gestational surrogate mother has no genetic connection to the baby because it wasn’t the gestational surrogate’s egg that was used during the IVF cycle.
These cycles occur with the procedure called in vitro fertilization (IVF). A gestational surrogate is referred to as the birth mother because she carried the baby and in traditional surrogacy the surrogate mother is referred to as the biological mother because her egg was used.
In both situations the baby is carried to term and then the baby is released to the intended parents for them to raise as their child.
Everything you read now says that in the United States gestational surrogacy is not as complex legally, and while that might be true it’s still a complex process that requires lawyers and often a surrogacy agency to help intended parents navigate through uncharted waters.
Did you know about 1400 babies are born yearly through gestational surrogacy? Surrogacy is becoming more common for intended mothers who can’t carry a pregnancy herself due to uterine issues, or the intended mother may have undergone a hysterectomy, or other health issues that might make a pregnancy for the intended mother risky. Sometimes intended mothers use a surrogate when their infertility is unexplained, or they have endured several miscarriages and getting pregnant and carrying to term hasn’t been successful for them. Sometimes couples use a surrogate due to their ages, or their sexual orientation. Surrogates often help gay men create a family either through traditional surrogacy or gestational surrogacy. Sometimes, a single Intended Father will use a surrogate mother and an egg donor. The surrogate carries the baby, gives birth and releases the baby to the intended couple or father.
When gay men choose traditional surrogacy one of the men uses his sperm to fertilize the surrogate mothers egg through artificial insemination (AI). The surrogate mother then carries the baby to term, has the baby and releases the baby to the couple. If a gay couple chooses an egg donor, the donated egg is fertilized in a lab, the embryo(s) are transferred back into the gestational surrogate, and the surrogate carries the baby to term, has the baby and releases the baby to the intended couple.
Whew! Are you still with me?
All different kinds of women choose to be surrogate mothers or gestational carriers. Some women are family members (Mom’s sisters, Aunts, or cousins or in-laws), that are asked to be a surrogate for them. Other women are friends. Because these kinds of arrangements are typically altruistic (no money exchanged and not commercial) the industry views them as somewhat controversial. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) supports and accepts specific family ties that are acceptable for surrogates. However, ASRM doesn’t support surrogacy if the baby would carry the same genes as a child born of incest between first-degree relatives.
There are also women who are commercial surrogates, which means they carry a baby for intended parents for a fee. The majority of surrogates are found through surrogacy agencies. The majority of intended parents seek out a surrogacy agency because these agencies arranged gestational surrogacy. The agency is the liaison between the gestational surrogate and the intended parent. The agency helps the intended parents find the right gestational surrogate for them, they make all the necessary arrangements, collect the monies needed for the cycle, disperse those monies, and manage the surrogacy cycle making sure the surrogate complies with her contract, as well as making sure the surrogate’s needs are met during the pregnancy while keeping the intended parents informed and in the loop along the way.
As of date there are no legal regulations that state who can and can’t be a surrogate mother. The industry has established standards and all experts agree on specific criteria in regards to who should be and who should not be a surrogate.
All surrogate mothers should be the minimum age of 21 years old and have already given birth to at least one healthy baby, and has at least one child under the age of 18 still living in the household. This is so the surrogate understands what pregnancy and childbirth are about, what it means to have a baby, and be a parent.
The surrogate must be deemed healthy physically and mentally. Surrogates must always pass a psychological screening by a mental health professional. This is so the MHP can explore or uncover any sort of potential emotional issues the surrogate may have regarding releasing a baby to the intended parents after birth.
ASRM advocates that all surrogates have a complete medical evaluation as well as a pregnancy history to assess the likelihood of a healthy, full-term pregnancy. ASRM also recommends screening for infectious diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, cytomegalovirus, and hepatitis B and C along with being screened for immunity to measles and rubella as well as the chicken pox. Potential surrogate mothers will also undergo a GYN exam to ensure the uterus is normal to make sure that the potential to carry a pregnancy and also the surrogate has her own OBGYN, not the same physician as the intended mother.
Please feel free to post your comments or questions. Or, just share your experience as a surrogate or intended parent.
Whether you are a woman looking to be a gestational surrogate mother, or an Intended Parent looking for more information on utilizing a surrogate mother with or with/out donor eggs…please visit our website at: http://www.TheSurrogacySOURCE.com and http://www.TheDonorSOURCE.com
January 31st, 2013
Eating While Pregnant…What CAN We Eat?
Eating while Pregnant….such a natural activity, a necessity even. You are expected to eat whether you are carrying one or two….or more babies. So this article hasn’t much to do with surrogacy BUT as a surrogate mother you may have the uncommon pressure of *people* asking you “what are you eating?” There is an entire grocery store of food now on the no-no list for pregnant women! I have no clue how WE, the baby boomers, the X generation, or the Y generation even made it through the entire 9 months in-utero high on mercury from our mothers over-dosing on canned tuna! What will the iGen’s do? Buy pre-formulated maternity diet packets from Amazon.com?
Read below the things that should be avoided now.
• Raw meat such as sushi, seafood, rare or uncooked beef, or poultry because of the risk of contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella.
• Raw eggs, or foods containing raw egg such as Caesars dressing, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream or custard, unpasteurized eggnog, or Hollandaise sauce because raw eggs may be contaminated with salmonella.
• Soft cheese such as blue cheese, feta, Brie, Camambert, and Latin-American soft white cheeses such as queso blanco and queso fresco because they may harbor harmful bacteria.
• Fish containing accumulated levels of mercury in their fatty tissues such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish.
• When a pregnant woman consumes large amounts of mercury, her baby may suffer brain damage resulting in developmental delays (for example, delays in learning to walk or talk).
• Fish containing high levels of an industrial pollutant called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in their fatty tissues such as bluefish and striped bass, and freshwater fish such as salmon, pike, trout, walleye from contaminated lakes and rivers. According to the March of Dimes, consumption of large amounts of PCBs by pregnant women is linked to decreased attention, memory, and IQ in their babies. Check with your local Health Department to determine which fish in your area are safe to eat.
And this list keeps growing…. deli meat, liver, (well…I can live without this one!) and artificial sweeteners…where will it end? After reading this new and updated list, posted out there on the Internet by the March of Dimes and the FDA, the only thing left for pregnant women to eat seems to be FORMULA! Yuck.
Surrogate mothers… this is what your IP’s are reading…it doesn’t matter that you ate subs from the local deli when you were pregnant with YOUR children but when you are a surrogate, carrying for someone else THEY want you to eat like they think THEY would eat. No Egg Nog for you over the holidays (unless you cook it), no Caesars salads at the Red Lobster…oh and while at the Red Lobster no Bass or Swordfish and stay away from that shrimp! No colas and no Equal in your ice tea. Wait…doesn’t ice tea have caffeine? NO CAFFEINE! Seriously, there are plenty of healthy choices and eating right is in the best interest of everyone involved. But if your IP’s are questioning your diet or if YOU have questions its best to have a talk with your OB and see what the current guidelines are. Because, trust me, they change!
Please feel free to comment back with any pregnant eating no-no’s that you’ve been informed about by your OB or IVF doctor
November 6th, 2012
Yes, you read that right…go with your gut, go with your instincts, go with your feelings…Do NOT just push ahead without acknowledging that something has given you pause in your surrogacy journey!
Too many Intended Parents, desperate as most are when they reach the decision to move ahead with a surrogacy situation, IGNORE crucial facts and gut feelings that are staring them in the face. They have met their potential surrogate mother online or through a friend…BUT….its the BUT that needs to be explored. BUT the woman / surrogate mother is on medicaid, But she is 19, But she doesn’t have transportation, But her husband, boyfriend/significant other is against the arrangement OR pushing for more money, But she has put ALL 3 of her children up for adoption, But she is hard to contact, But she is slow to make appointments…it can go on and on…what is THAT telling YOU? It is telling you, Intended Parent, to move on! Surrogacy is not something to jump into, take lightly or think money will cure these issues. Make sure that you have a comfort level you can live with before you sign that contract.
A surrogacy agency might be the answer for you! Contact The Surrogacy SOURCE. They can offer expert guidance and advice. You may never be 100% comfortable but YOU can be reassured that moving in the same direction with the right agency will alleviate most of the”But” factors.
September 4th, 2012
Wouldn’t it be great to have a crystal ball and know what your future holds for you and your new potential Intended Parents?
It may seem easy once you make the decision to become a surrogate mother. You read profiles, letters and pick a likely candidate. You might exchange e-mails or talk on the phone. You hear stories of hopes, dreams, complications and confusion. You share your values and lifestyle. And then perhaps a date…lunch? Dinner? Ahhhh the glow, the euphoria of finding the “right” match. And then drip – drip – drip it starts to rain on the parade…just a drizzle at first. Nothing to stop the momentum, you can still see a slice of blue sky, but you get out the umbrella anyway. Perhaps this happens during contract negations. The IP’s who were once so grateful for finding you want you to lower your “fee”. (by 25% and Heavens! NO! they do not want to use an escrow agent!!) They want you to promise not to work during the pregnancy but they don’t want to pay you for lost wages either. They want you to use your insurance at the fertility clinic so that they don’t have to pay for the medications. (Thankfully most clinics won’t do this any longer.) They want you to go to Florida or Illinois for the transfer but don’t want to pay child care for YOUR KIDS while you are gone. Hummmmmm, If this pattern is starting now, during the contract phase, what’s to say that it will be any different when you are pregnant? Maybe it’s time to rethink this surrogacy match.
I know of many women who just WANT to be surrogate mothers SO BADLY they are willing to overlook a multitude of red flags. They start out on their own, in order to save their IP’s money. But when things start to go south, you can say no. You can back that train up and get OFF. Before you commit to medical testing (where the IP’s start to spend money on the relationship they are building with you), PLEASE make it clear what YOUR expectations are.
This is why a great agency would benefit you! Your first conversation with them would be where you stand on your base fees, benefits, selective reduction, abortion and everything that is near and dear to your heart. They would find Intended Parents who would be the right fit for you. A great agency like The Surrogacy Source would do your homework with you…supporting you every step of the way. Give us a call today and see how we can work together to make your dreams come true!
Toll free: 877-375-8888 or visit our website: http://www.thesurrogacysource.com
May 15th, 2012
Q: I was wondering how many times is too many to be a surrogate mother? I have a friend who is going on her 5th time and I wonder if that’s healthy especially when she has already had 4 kids of her own!
A: This is a very good question but one for the IVF clinics rather than a surrogacy agency. Needless to say there are many factors to be taken into consideration. If a woman has a great track record of easy pregnancies and births, has not had more then 3 c-sections and is not over the age of 40 then she may still be a good candidate for surrogacy. We would certainly screen her as we do all of our surrogate mothers but we would leave the health issue up to the IVF doctors to decide. The surrogate mother’s health ALWAYS comes first and we would never do anything to jeopardize that! We keep in mind that our intended parents are spending a lot of money on the surrogacy process and we want the very best, healthiest and dedicated women for our IPs.
March 20th, 2012
When a woman first thinks about becoming a surrogate mother, often times the thing that comes to mind is how easy it was for HER to have become pregnant and given birth to her own child/ren. We often hear a woman state “my husband just has to look at me and I become pregnant” or “we just talked about adding to our family and the next thing we knew, we were expecting number 4!”. But we all know that is not how surrogacy works! (and if you don’t then just read on!)
First of all a surrogate mother’s husband is not involved in getting her pregnant! His sperm has nothing to do with the process so if the intended parents are having male factor issues, that right there could mean a long haul for everyone involved. For a Gestational Surrogate (also referred to as Gestational Carrier), her eggs are not being used in this process either so if egg quality is a factor that could mean failed transfers as well. For a woman, the new surrogate mother, who has never experienced failure when attempting to become pregnant, this could be an unwelcome experience!
Second, becoming pregnant via IVF is no picnic. As many intended mothers can tell you, the pills, shots, creams, blood draws and appointments can get old fast! It is a huge responsibility to agree to become a surrogate mother for someone else and agree to put your own life and, lets face it, physical comfort on hold while you attempt to become pregnant with someone else’s child.
Third, your family also is impacted by whatever happens during the surrogacy journey. No matter if the process goes relatively smoothly or if there are canceled transfers, chemical pregnancies, miscarriages or a rift in the relationship, families are always involved and effected.
All of these issues can be minimalized by having a great surrogacy agency by your side. The initial phone call should educate a woman who wants to become a surrogate mother to all of the responsibilities that she needs to be aware of within the surrogacy process. And these responsibilities will be repeated throughout the matching and contract phase of the program. No surrogate mother should have any question about what is expected of her or where she can turn for answers and support!
This is just the tip of the iceberg and we want to hear your comments!
What were your biggest surprises when you first looked into surrogacy? What are some of the things you wish you knew when you started the process of becoming a surrogate mother?
Please share your best advice! We want to hear from you!!