Becoming a surrogate is one of the most generous things that a woman can do for an individual or couple who is unable to have a child on their own. It’s an amazing journey that gives you the opportunity to do something extraordinary – give the gift of life. However, as with any journey, it’s important to take precautions that ensure a healthy, happy, safe, and rewarding experience for all parties involved.
Surrogate requirements play a vital role in protecting the health and well-being of infants, surrogates, and intended parents alike. These requirements are in place to ensure the best possible chances of the surrogate having a safe and successful pregnancy.
Once you’ve filled out a detailed application with your medical and personal history, we will review your information to determine whether you qualify. Our main focus will be on your pregnancy/delivery history, as well as your current household and support system. Because every woman is different, we are flexible in some of our requirements and evaluate each potential surrogate on a case-by-case basis.
To be accepted as a gestational surrogate in our program, applicants should fit within the following qualifications:
The health of surrogates and the infants that they carry are of the utmost importance. The maximum age of 44 is recommended based on the fact that surrogates over the age of 44 have a higher risk of experiencing pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, placental complications, preterm labor, stillbirth, and pregnancy loss. This age range helps to ensure that surrogate pregnancies and delivery will be safe for both gestational carriers and infants.
However, because some women are able to have a normal pregnancy at older ages, the age limit is somewhat flexible and is taken into account on a case-by-case basis, as long as all parties involved are informed about the potential risks.
As part of our due diligence to protect the health of our surrogates and babies, we require our surrogates to be in good health. Good health can mean a lot of things and one of the ways that it is measured is with the body mass index (BMI) system. The ideal BMI range for surrogates is between 18 and 33.
This age range is in place to ensure that potential surrogates are not only within the optimal weight range for the best possible response to fertility medications, but also have a good health baseline, which can lower the risk of pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia, high blood pressure, blood clotting issues, gestational diabetes, sleep apnea, and infections. Ultimately, this weight range is determined at the discretion of each individual clinic.
It’s also important to note that BMI is merely a limited way to quickly determine if someone is at a healthy weight. The BMI system does not take into account other health factors, such as muscle mass. As such, BMI requirements for surrogates are flexible to a certain extent and will ultimately be determined during a medical evaluation on a case-by-case basis.
One of the most important requirements to be a surrogate is that you must have given birth to at least one child in the past. Furthermore, your pregnancy and delivery history should be free of complications and significant medical events. Women who have given birth via c-sections in the past may still be eligible to become surrogates, as long as they have had no more than three c-section procedures.
This requirement is important for both mental and psychological reasons. Having a history of healthy, successful pregnancies is a good indication that a surrogacy pregnancy will have a happy outcome for all parties involved. Furthermore, it shows that the surrogate has experience handling the emotional peaks and valleys that can come with pregnancy.
While surrogacy is an incredible journey, it can be emotionally and mentally challenging at times. Surrogates not only have to contend with the hormonal changes of pregnancy that may impact their mood and mental state, but may also have to deal with emotions that are unique to the surrogacy process itself. We want to ensure that surrogates are able to handle all the possible twists and turns that may come up. We also want the surrogacy process to culminate in a rewarding, beautiful experience. As such, every potential surrogate must undergo a psychological evaluation to determine whether surrogacy will be a mentally safe journey for her.
For women who have a history of serious mental health issues or severe postpartum depression, surrogacy may not be a good fit. Another mental health requirement for surrogates is that they cannot be on antidepressant medications for at least 12 months before starting the surrogacy process. Although antidepressants aren’t associated with causing birth defects, it’s estimated that about 30% of babies born from women taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) will develop neonatal adaptation syndrome, a condition in which the baby can experience symptoms such as:
Not only is it important for surrogates to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery history, but it’s also important that surrogates are currently raising a child they gave birth to. This is mostly a psychological check-and-balance requirement.
Women who have given birth to and are currently raising a child tend to understand the importance of family and how incredible the gift of life can be for a family unable to conceive on their own. They tend to be driven by compassion and are deeply committed to the process. Furthermore, women who are currently raising a child they gave birth to are less likely to develop emotional attachment issues.
The surrogacy process is a vulnerable experience for both surrogates and intended parents. To ensure the best possible chances for a healthy, happy surrogacy journey, it’s important that gestational surrogates have stable social standings, environments, and support systems that they can lean on throughout the process. This is beneficial for not only surrogates, but also for intended parents, who are putting their faith, dreams, and baby into someone else’s hands. As such, potential surrogates and every adult member over the age of 18 within her household must undergo a criminal background check.
Having a criminal record does not necessarily preclude you from becoming a surrogate, but it’s something that will need to be discussed. The entire surrogacy process relies heavily on trust, which can only be established through transparency and honesty.