“Why does weight matter?” “Not all heavy women are unhealthy!” Almost daily, we’re asked why does weight or BMI matter so much? This particular requirement can be very frustrating to all the healthy women out there who don’t see themselves as “malnourished” or “obese” (as a BMI chart may categorize). Why can’t “bigger” women do something like this? Below, we’ll tell you all there is to know about why a healthy BMI is important for a surrogate.
In order to become a gestational surrogate, you must meet certain qualifications and must pass certain screenings such as physical and psychological examinations. One requirement to becoming a gestational surrogate, is to have a healthy BMI.
What is a BMI?
BMI stands for Body Mass Index. This is defined by a calculation between your height and weight. Your BMI is a good indicator of your general health. A high or low BMI can be an indicator for potential risk factors associated with pregnancy. Most women do not know their BMI, you can find out your BMI with this BMI Calculator to see if you qualify for surrogate BMI requirements.
BMI and Surrogacy
The BMI requirements for a surrogate mother can vary by clinic or agency. The requirements are set by the fertility doctors, clinics, and agencies that facilitate the surrogacy process. Weight is not the only indicator of good health; if you have a “questionable” BMI (32-36), further testing would be required to determine if you would make a suitable candidate for gestational surrogacy.
Why is a healthy BMI part of surrogate requirements?
Becoming a parent through surrogacy can be a scary process for Intended Parents. Typically, they’ve been on this journey to parenthood for some time, and have experienced losses and/or heartbreaks along the way. Reproductive Possibilities, like most agencies and clinics, want to provide these parents with the best possible option that will allow for a healthy and successful pregnancy and delivery. Having a BMI that is considered too high or too low can present an increased risk of complications for both you and baby.
If your BMI is too high, the complications can be:
- It may take 2x longer to conceive (on average), and may take 2x longer to recover (on average)
- HBP (high blood pressure) and/or Pre-Eclampsia
- Lower response to medications (necessary for embryo transfer)
- Gestational Diabetes (3x more likely)
- Higher risk of c-section, miscarriage, stillbirth, infection during pregnancy, sleep apnea
If you BMI is too low, the complications can be:
- You may have a harder time conceiving
- Lower immune system, more susceptible to sickness, infection, and/or disease
- Higher risk of premature labor and/or delivery
- High risk of low birth weight due to potential malnutrition
These possible complications would not only put you and the baby in a potentially risky situation, but they could also increase the costs and fees associated with gestational surrogacy, for the Intended Parents.
Potential Added Costs for Intended Parents:
- MFM* (Maternal Fetal Medicine) associated costs (*high risk OB)
- Fertility clinic costs (per embryo transfer, surrogacy meds, monitoring visits, etc.)
- Travel (travel for additional transfers, monitoring, etc.)
- Medical Costs- Pregnancy (additional appts and tests, meds, hospitalizations, etc.)
- Medical Costs- Baby (NICU, additional appts and tests, surgeries, hospitalizations, etc.)
- Medical Costs- Postpartum (additional appts and tests, hospitalizations, etc.)
Not including the compensation that a surrogate mother makes, the process of becoming a parent through surrogacy can be very expensive. On average, a typical surrogacy journey in the US can cost anywhere from $90,000 to $120,000. Most insurance companies do not cover surrogacy costs for Intended Parents. Thankfully, we have seen a positive turn with many companies like Starbucks and Pinterest now offering insurance that will cover surrogacy! We hope more companies and employers will follow suit.
Tips for a Healthy BMI
For those of you that may not qualify to be a surrogate at this moment, but still want to pursue surrogacy, we have some tips to not only get your BMI to a healthy level, but to maintain that healthy weight! It takes real desire and dedication to work this hard to do something so selfless!
No alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, or any nicotine related products
Eat more fresh fruits/veggies vs. canned or frozen
Maintain a balanced diet of proteins, fruits and vegetables, dairy, nuts, and grains
Exercise (30 min. per day minimum)
Yoga or Pilates (it doesn’t have to be hardcore!)
Get fresh air (do something outside!)
Home exercises (use chairs, stairs, laundry, cleaning, etc.)
Mental Health (just as important!)
Write in a journal or diary
Do something for you! (nails, nap, massage, weekend away, etc.)
Spend time with friends/family
Our mission is to help bring babies into the world in the safest and healthiest environment possible. We wish that we could accept ALL of the incredible women who want so badly to help another family, but your life and the baby’s life are far too important to risk.
We hope that our tips were helpful and that you can fulfill your dreams of helping families with us one day!