A Surrogate's Guide to Pumping and Shipping Breast Milk
Feeding a baby breast milk is the best source of nutrition. According to the CDC, breast milk can help protect babies against short-term and long-term disease. Whether you're interested in becoming a surrogate (also known as a gestational carrier) or looking to hire one to expand your family, you may wonder how and if breast milk can fit into the equation. Good news: It can. It’s estimated that approximately 30% of surrogates pump and ship breast milk for anywhere from one to two months.
Here's what you need to know about pumping and shipping breast milk for a baby born via surrogate.
What Are the Benefits of Breast Milk?
The benefits of breast milk aren't just for a baby. Breastfeeding can be beneficial to a surrogate, too. Here's what you need to know about breastfeeding and its health benefits.
Benefits of Breast Milk for the Baby
The benefits of breast milk for the baby range from both short-term benefits as well as long-term developmental ones. Breastfed babies may have a lower risk of:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Ear infections
- Stomach bugs
Benefits for the Surrogate
The benefits of breast milk for a surrogate (in this case, pumping breast milk) can reap the same benefits as breastfeeding, such as:
- Helping with recovery post-birth
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancers
In many cases, this makes the double-duty benefits of breast milk and pumping appealing for both the surrogate and intended parents.
Do Surrogates Produce Milk?
Yes, surrogates produce milk, and many may choose to express or pump milk for the first few weeks of the baby’s life. Since the surrogate spent the past 40 weeks being pregnant, their milk and colostrum (which give the baby antibodies and nutrients that are vital in the first few days of life) are specifically formulated for that child.
What Do Surrogates Do With the Breast Milk?
Surrogates may choose one of the following for their breast milk:
- Pump for intended parents
- Not pump at all, which will stop breast milk production
- Pump and donate breast milk to a donor milk bank
- Pump and sell breast milk to a milk bank
- Pump and donate via community groups like Facebook
Pumping and Shipping Breast Milk by the Surrogate
Whether you’re a surrogate or the intended parents, you’ll discuss pumping and the possibility of feeding a baby breast milk early in the surrogacy process. For surrogates, you're not expected to give a definite answer, but this is a chance for all parties to start thinking about how they want to feed the baby and what the resources are to achieve this if breast milk is the preference.
It’s also worth noting that intended parents can change their minds at anytime. For example, if the originally outlined preference was for the baby to receive breast milk, but circumstances changed, and they received formula in the hospital for a specific medical reason, they may decide to continue with formula, no longer requiring breast milk from the surrogate after delivery.
How to Feed the Baby if Surrogate's Breast Milk is Not Available
However, this doesn’t mean that if you choose to use your surrogate’s milk and she cannot or does not want to pump, you’re out of luck. Here are some other ways to feed a baby if a surrogate's breast milk is not available:
For parents who want to give their baby breast milk, a milk bank may be a cost-effective way to achieve this. Donor breast milk not from your specific surrogate can still be used and has many of the same nutritional and developmental benefits as using your surrogate's breast milk. If you choose to go this route, it’s important to use milk from a bank that is associated with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America so that the proper safety protocols are practiced and observed.
Intended Mother Breastfeeding
In some cases, a surrogate baby can receive milk through an intended mother, even if she did not carry the baby. This type of breastfeeding is achieved through a process known as induced lactation. This is when a woman takes certain hormones, supplements, and medications in addition to pumping to make her body produce breast milk for her baby. However, induced lactation may not be possible or successful for all women and if it is something you are planning to try, speak to your physician as early in the surrogacy process as possible.
Formula or Combination Feeding
When breast milk from either a donor, the surrogate, or the intended mother isn't available, the formula is a healthy, safe alternative way to feed a baby. Or, perhaps you're giving the baby breast milk from one of the sources above, but the infant requires more food than the breast milk provided. In these cases, combination feeding of both breast milk and formula is a great way for a baby to get the benefits of breast milk while making sure they are eating enough to grow and develop.
Do Surrogates Get Paid for Breast Milk?
Yes, surrogates get paid for breast milk. This can be anywhere from $200 to $300 per week. Intended parents will also pay for the supplies and equipment a surrogate will need to pump, such as a breast pump and storage. The intended parent or parents can purchase these for the surrogate or simply reimburse them.
Don't Forget to Factor in Shipping Costs
Many surrogates do not live near the intended parents. Shipping breast milk is convenient, safe, and relatively easy to do, but it’s important to remember that delivery of the breast milk will need to be covered once your surrogate starts pumping and supplying breast milk. Unfortunately shipping breast milk outside of the US is currently prohibited.
While there are some for-profit milk banks, surrogates who choose to give their breast milk to a donor milk bank are typically not compensated, aside from covering shipping and storage costs.
How to Ship Breast Milk for a Surrogate Baby
In general, breast milk should be frozen in bags before shipping. Remember that breast milk expands when frozen, so you only want to fill the bags about 2/3 of the way. If you’re not using a third-party service, most breast milk shipments require a proper-sized Styrofoam container with dry ice that’s then placed in a cardboard box.
Many companies assist with breast milk shipping, making it easier than ever for surrogate or donor milk to be shipped and delivered. For intended parents, look into options like MilkStork or FedEx that provide packing materials and shipping labels to make frequent breast milk shipments easy and safe by keeping breast milk cold in transit.
Surrogate Pumping Tips
If you’re a surrogate who is planning to pump after birth, there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success. Keep these tips in mind as you begin the next part of your surrogacy story – pumping:
- Get your breast pump ahead of time. Some insurance companies may cover a breast pump for a surrogate, so intended parents should investigate their options for a pump early on.
- Speak to a lactation counselor. The hospital will have lactation counselors on-hand after delivery, but if you and the intended parents have the resources, it might be a wise move to speak to a lactation counselor that specializes in surrogacy pumping for resources that will be unique to your situation.
- Set a schedule of when you’ll pump. One of the benefits of surrogacy pumping is that many surrogates don’t have a newborn they are simultaneously caring for. This can make it easier to stick to a pumping schedule and produce enough breast milk for the baby.
- Pump more frequently, not for longer. This can be a faster way to produce more breast milk without giving yourself pumping fatigue by being strapped to a breast pump for extended periods at a time.
- Find a pumping community. Contact La Leche League to get involved in a pumping support group, or take to social media to find a community you can join virtually or in-person. Going through the pumping experience with other surrogates and/or pumping mothers is a great way to find emotional support and share tips to make the pumping process easier for you.
- Ask for help. It doesn't matter if you're caring for a baby or not - pumping is time-consuming! Don't feel shy or embarrassed to ask friends and family members for help, be it around the house, helping with meals, or anything else. Pumping is extra work, and you need a support system to lift you up as you do it.
Additional Resources for Surrogates and Intended Parents
The surrogacy journey is a beautiful and rewarding one. It’s also one that becomes more popular as means to start and expand a family every year. With the increase in surrogacy, the number of resources and information also grows for intended parents and those interested in becoming surrogates. You can find plenty of information in our surrogacy blog, and here are some additional resources you may be interested in reading as you begin this process:
- Does a Surrogate Share DNA With the Baby? – Surrogacy Epigenetics
- Can a Surrogate Keep the Baby? – Surrogacy Contract and Legal Considerations
- Pros and Cons of Surrogacy
- How to Find a Surrogate Mother
For many couples and individuals who want to expand their family, surrogacy offers a way to do it when other forms of assisted reproductive technology (ART) may not be an option or may not have been effective. For surrogates, the chance to bring a baby into the world for a couple or individual who so desperately wants one is a priceless, timeless gift that enriches the surrogate's life as much as the intended parents'.
If you're interested in discussing surrogacy, whether you are looking to hire a surrogate, or become one, please contact us online or call our office on (310) 566 14 87. We look forward to hearing from you.
Should I Become a Gestational Carrier?
Surrogacy is an important reproductive option that brings hope and joy to those who can't conceive naturally. Being a gestational carrier is a rewarding journey that lets you help individuals and couples achieve their goals of becoming loving parents.
You may be asking yourself: “Should I become a gestational carrier?” You may have lots of other questions about being a gestational carrier. This article will discuss the process and whether being a gestational carrier could be right for you.
What Is a Gestational Carrier?
A gestational carrier, also referred to as a ‘surrogate,’ is someone who carries a baby on behalf of another individual or couple. Single men and women, LGBTQ+ couples, and heterosexual couples who can't conceive or safely go through pregnancy due to age or medical concerns may use gestational carriers. Every year, as many as 1,000 babies are born through surrogates in the United States.
There is some difference between the term 'surrogate mother' and 'gestational carrier", which we discuss at length in another article here. To sum up; while a surrogate mother sometimes uses her own eggs to conceive a surrogate child (traditional surrogacy, which we do not offer here are Pinnacle Surrogacy), a gestational carrier becomes pregnant using the eggs and sperm of the intended parent(s). Therefore, as a gestational carrier with Pinnacle Surrogacy, you would not use your own eggs to become pregnant, nor would you share any genetic material with the baby (you can find more about surrogate DNA sharing here).
What To Know Before Becoming a Gestational Carrier?
Gestational surrogacy is a great solution to help individuals and couples achieve their parenthood goals. However, it can also be a fulfilling experience for the gestational carrier. If you're thinking about becoming a surrogate, there are a few things to know.
Who Is a Good Candidate to be a Gestational Carrier?
Your health, safety, and well-being are our top priorities. Therefore, gestational carriers must meet some requirements to ensure a safe and positive experience.
While surrogacy can be rewarding, going through pregnancy is physically and emotionally demanding. Therefore, you must be in good physical and emotional health to become a gestational carrier.
Additionally, surrogates must have had at least one successful pregnancy prior to deciding to become a surrogate. You must also be under age 40, have a clean record, and have no smoking or drug use history to become a gestational carrier.
What Is the Process to Become a Gestational Carrier?
First, you'll need to complete an application online. Next, one of our caring surrogacy coordinators will reach out to you. They'll answer your questions and get your consent to perform a background check and obtain your medical history.
You'll then complete a profile questionnaire to help us get to know you and match you with potential parents. Then, once we've reviewed your medical records and you've spoken with one of our physicians, you'll come in for medical and psychological screenings. If you're in a relationship, your partner must also be screened for drug use or infectious diseases.
Finally, a licensed social worker will perform an assessment of your home to ensure you have a safe, stable living environment before a doctor approves your application. Once approved, you can start the matching process. After a surrogacy match is found, you and the intended parents will sign legal contracts before proceeding.
What Happens During the Matching Process?
There are several steps before getting matched with potential parents. Once you've been approved to become a gestational carrier, intended parents can review surrogate profiles to help them choose a gestational carrier. You'll also be able to review the profiles of the intended parent(s) before meeting them to ensure you're a good fit for each other.
If both parties decide to move forward after the meeting, attorneys for each side will draw up legal contracts for the surrogacy arrangement that both you and the intended parents will sign.
What Is the Conception Process as a Surrogate?
Asa gestational carrier, you'll undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) to become pregnant. First, an egg will be fertilized with sperm in a lab. The egg and sperm may come from the intended parents or a donor.
The fertilized egg becomes an embryo, which a physician will introduce into your uterus using a thin, soft catheter. The embryo then has a chance to implant and grow into a fetus. The procedure is typically painless, but some women may experience mild cramping.
What Testing and Medical Care Take Place Before and During Pregnancy?
You'll undergo evaluation by a high-risk obstetrician, a psychologist, and a Fertility Specialist as part of your surrogacy application. We'll perform blood and urine tests to rule out infectious diseases and prenatal testing. We'll also perform an ultrasound of your ovaries and uterus.
We'll closely monitor you throughout the entire embryo transfer process. Once you've become pregnant as a surrogate, you'll receive high-quality prenatal care and be able to establish care with a local OB/GYN. They'll provide whatever prenatal care you need to ensure you're having a happy and healthy pregnancy. In addition, Pinnacle Surrogacy will provide monthly support meetings with a psychologist to ensure your mental and emotional well-being.
What are the Risks of Gestational Surrogacy?
The risks of being a gestational carrier are the same as with a naturally conceived pregnancy. You may experience symptoms of morning sickness early on in the pregnancy, like nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Pregnancy complications may include the risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm labor, persistent nausea and vomiting, or pregnancy loss. However, these risks are likely minimal since all surrogates undergo careful medical screening.
What are the Legal Considerations?
Both you and the intended parents will sign legal contracts before proceeding with a pregnancy. These contracts are in place to protect the surrogate as well as the parents. You will not be able to keep the baby, and the intended parents will have full legal parental rights.
If pregnancy complications or medical decisions may affect the unborn child, these decisions will usually fall to the intended parents. The intended parents and gestational carrier can decide whether or not they will maintain any contact after the surrogacy process, and there are no obligations either way.
In addition, surrogacy is legal in most states, excluding Michigan, Nebraska, and Louisiana. But the rules can vary, so you'll need to ensure you live in an area where it's permitted before pursuing surrogacy.
What is the Pay for Being a Gestational Carrier?
As a gestational carrier through Pinnacle Surrogacy, you'll receive excellent benefits and reimbursement. You'll receive a monthly allowance throughout the pregnancy. You may qualify for additional benefits like housekeeping and childcare reimbursement if you need to be on bed rest and compensation for missed wages related to the pregnancy. Most surrogates make at least $50,000 and up.
Is Being a Gestational Carrier for Me?
Becoming a gestational carrier is a very profound and personal decision. It does entail certain risks, medical procedures, and personal sacrifices. But it's a wonderful way to positively impact the lives of people hoping to become parents.
If you would like more information, our compassionate team at Pinnacle Surrogacy would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Explore our website and contact us to learn more.
What’s the Difference between a Surrogate Mother and Gestational Carrier?
Many times, a term such as “surrogate mother” is used in one way, when in fact, the term really means something else entirely. We are here to provide clarity and help you get a clear understanding of each of these terms.
What is a Surrogate Mother?
Traditionally, the term “surrogate mother” meant a woman who used her own eggs to become pregnant with a surrogate baby. Today, the majority of clinics work only with gestational surrogates, meaning a woman who carries the baby but does not use her own eggs in the process of conceiving the child. Because most clinics in the United States only work with gestational carriers, it’s easy to assume that is what they mean when they say “surrogate mother.”
But because of the potential for confusion, it’s important to always ask questions and to clarify before you commit to something that may turn out not to be what you thought. At Pinnacle Surrogacy, when we use the term “surrogate mother,” we always mean gestational carrier, as we do not work with traditional surrogates.
What is a gestational carrier?
A gestational carrier is just that…a woman who carries the baby that is created from the intended parents’ or donors’ eggs and sperm. An embryo, using either the eggs from an intended parent (or a donor) and sperm from the intended father (or a donor) is created in a lab through the IVF process, and that embryo is then transferred into the surrogate’s uterus to create a pregnancy. The surrogate (the gestational carrier) is not genetically related to the baby she carries, as her eggs are not used in the process.
Who can be a gestational carrier?
The requirements as to who can be a gestational carrier are straightforward. These requirements might seem a bit rigid, but they are there for the most important reason, to keep both our surrogates and the babies safe and healthy.
Gestational carriers are less than 40 years old if they are previous surrogates, and ideally less than 38 if they are going through the process for the first time. They must live in a surrogacy-friendly state and be healthy, both physically and emotionally, with no history of smoking or drug use, as well as no history of anxiety or depression (including post-partum depression). In addition, our gestational carriers must not have a criminal record, nor can anyone else in their household have a criminal record.
To be considered, our gestational carriers must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and be financially stable. And finally, they must have carried a healthy pregnancy to term and be raising at least one child.
Who can use a gestational carrier?
There are several categories of people who can take advantage of the gestational carrier process to build their families. Women of any age who cannot carry a pregnancy for any reason, such as a medical condition that renders them unable to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy, can turn to a gestational carrier. Single men or gay couples who want to be parents often find that a gestational carrier is an excellent choice and can become fathers with the help of an egg donor and a surrogate.
How does a gestational carrier get pregnant?
It’s natural to wonder how a gestational carrier becomes pregnant if she does not use her own eggs. The process is called IVF, which stands for in vitro fertilization. The term “in vitro” simply means a process of fertilization of the egg, which takes place in a culture dish outside a living person.
In the IVF lab, an embryo is created using the eggs from either the intended parents or a donor, and sperm from either the intended parent or a donor. The eggs, once fertilized, are grown in the lab to a certain state, and then the embryo is implanted directly into the gestational carrier’s uterus to create a pregnancy.
What is a traditional surrogate?
A traditional surrogate, who can also be known as a surrogate mother, is a woman who uses her own eggs to become pregnant with the surrogate baby. This means that the baby is in fact, biologically hers. Many states ban traditional surrogacy, but there are some states that do not have specific laws on the books either prohibiting or permitting traditional surrogacy. The following states explicitly permit compensated traditional surrogacy through state statute or case law: Florida, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Most surrogacy agencies and surrogacy clinics do not practice traditional surrogacy as this brings a significant legal and emotional burden to all parties involved in the process, and seems unnecessary when there is an option to use a gestational surrogate instead.
How does a traditional surrogate get pregnant?
A traditional surrogate becomes pregnant through a process known as IUI, which stands for Intrauterine Insemination. This is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. So the difference between IVF and IUI is that with IUI, the fertilization takes place inside the traditional surrogate’s uterus. If fertilization is successful, an embryo is created and implants itself in the surrogate’s uterus. With IVF, fertilization is accomplished in the lab, outside of the uterus.
Gestational surrogacy process
The process of gestational surrogacy involves multiple steps, which you should become familiar with, whether you are an intended parent or you want to become a surrogate.
At Pinnacle Surrogacy, the prospective surrogate will usually successfully complete medical and psychological testing before matching with the intended parent(s). This is different from most agencies, which will often start the screening process after the surrogate is matched with the intended parents. Each of our surrogacy candidates undergoes screening by a fertility specialist, a high-risk obstetrician, and a psychologist. We also do a home survey and meet the surrogate’s family as we want to be certain the home environment is absolutely safe, supportive, and nurturing.
Once the intended parents have had their consultation with one of our fertility specialists, our multi-step process begins, including getting access to our surrogate profiles, and a match meeting between the surrogate and intended parent(s) is arranged. Once the surrogate and the intended parent(s) match and reach an agreement on working together, legal contracts are drawn up by each party’s respective attorney.
After the legal contracts are in place, the embryo transfer can be planned. A Pinnacle Surrogacy representative will accompany the surrogate to all of her fertility appointments where possible. If the intended parent(s) are not able to attend an appointment, we will arrange video participation or provide feedback in a timely manner. For a detailed look into the process of surrogacy, please see more information here.
Pinnacle Surrogacy is there for both our surrogates and intended parents(s) every step of the way in their surrogacy journey. This means we stay in close contact with the surrogate throughout the pregnancy and also assist with all obstetric appointments. Our surrogates continue to have monthly support meetings with a psychologist to be sure their emotional needs are met. In addition, our surrogates receive nutritional counseling plus weekly the delivery of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the pregnancy.
Surrogates at Pinnacle Surrogacy
Although you may see different terms used throughout our website, such as surrogate, surrogate mother, or gestational carrier, here at Pinnacle Surrogacy we only work with gestational surrogates. As we have explained, gestational surrogates do not contribute their own eggs to the fertilization process and are not genetically related to the baby they carry.
Start Your Surrogacy Journey
If you are considering becoming a surrogate or having a baby using the surrogacy process, we are here to answer your questions and to support you right from the start. You can find more information on surrogacy here and we also have a dedicated section for surrogates as well as a section for intended parents on our website, that both provide plenty of useful information around the requirements, process, costs or surrogacy, surrogate compensation, and more.
If you are ready, you can apply to become a surrogate through our online application form here.
Preparing for a Family: Adoption, Egg Donation And Surrogacy for Gay Men
Are you and your partner looking to become parents? Navigating the world of gay fatherhood, egg donation, and adoption or surrogacy for gay men and couples can be complicated. Here is an overview of gay family building:
Adoption vs Surrogacy for Gay Couples
The first step for gay men who want to pursue fatherhood is to consider surrogacy or adoption. Adoption is potentially a faster and less costly way to become a father and allows parenting of children from various age groups. It also provides a meaningful contribution to society and the child whose future may be uncertain. On the other hand, an adopted child’s biological parents may change their mind before the child is born, or even soon after. The process of eventually letting the child know of its adoption status may be emotionally taxing for the parents and the child, and psychological support may be needed. Other uncertainties that affect this decision include the unknown genetic background or medical history of the birth parents, or the environment in which the birth mother carried the baby which may affect the future health of the child.
The process of surrogacy for gay parents may be more costly and time-consuming but provides you with more control. Contractual agreements with the surrogate, especially in California and other select states, provide the most protective legal frameworks for gay surrogacy options, ensuring that the child will be placed with the parents after birth.
Gay Surrogacy Options and Considerations
Provided that prospective fathers choose the path of surrogacy, the next step is to decide whether one or both partners will become genetic fathers. One partner may have a strong desire to become the genetic father and the other may not, in which case it is an easy decision. If both wish to be genetic fathers, one embryo from each father can be transferred to have a twin pregnancy or transferred sequentially in a staggered manner.
Choosing the genetic father for surrogacy can be a difficult decision. In our experience, open and direct communication between the fathers is essential at this time as you take into consideration your preferences, goals, and respective family and medical histories.
Here are some things to think about, plan for, and discuss:
- How do you feel about having twins? Each father could contribute his sperm to fertilize eggs from the same or different egg donor.
- If twins aren’t an option, another possibility is having two children of different ages, each with a different genetic father.
- What does your fertility specialist think? It may be that one intended father has healthier sperm than the other.
- Consider your respective family medical histories. A family history of serious medical conditions should be taken into consideration when making a final decision.
- Are there physical traits that you would like to see in your child or children? Consider selecting the father who has these traits for genetic parenthood.
Finding an Egg Donor for Gay Couples
The next step after choosing the genetic father(s) is to choose an egg donor. Factors to consider about the egg donor include:
- The donor’s ethnic background
- Genetic and medical history
- Self-described personality traits
Having the ability to choose an egg donor is among the most desired qualities of egg donation. Typically, multiple embryos are created with the father’s sperm and the donor eggs. The embryos are then frozen, allowing intended parents to build their family over time with the same genetic material. Pinnacle Egg Bank has strict guidelines for egg donor screening process and selection which helps to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. You can view profiles of our exceptional egg donors in our online Donor Egg Bank.
Choosing the Right Surrogate Mother
In addition to choosing an egg donor, prospective parents have to choose a surrogate and go through legal procedures to set up a contractual agreement. As our team outlined in the blog page about choosing the right surrogate, this process can be the most challenging, yet rewarding of all. Our standards for surrogates are extremely high and we actively seek to work with those women who are committed to be a surrogate mother for gay couples and individuals.
An important decision is choosing the birth location, which typically corresponds to the surrogate’s state of residence. Although California has led the nation in progressive surrogacy laws, other states are now following these precedents. It is important to note that in recent years, U.S. citizen gay fathers using internationally based surrogates have faced issues with the citizenship of their children.
Also, while the genetic father will automatically be listed on the birth certificate of the newborn, in some locations the non-genetic father will need to adopt the child in order to be fully considered a legal guardian. Consultation with an attorney expert in surrogacy law is critical to avoid encountering these challenges.
After choosing the biological father(s) and selecting an egg donor and a surrogate, the medical process of egg donation and embryo transfer can begin with the hope of welcoming a child into the world 9 months later!
Learn More About Egg Donation and Surrogacy for Gay Men
Our in-house team of surrogacy consultants is comprised of women who have been surrogates themselves, some of whom have even been a surrogate mother for a gay couple, and more than once. They have a long history of helping couples and individuals, LGBTQ+ and straight, become parents. In addition, they have worked with intended parents from across the nation as well as those living abroad. They can help you understand and navigate the process along with any challenges that you might face.
If you have any questions about gay fatherhood, don’t hesitate to contact us or call 310 566 1487 to speak to our patient coordinator. Read about our options for sperm washing services and more in our surrogacy for intended parents section.
Pros and Cons of Being a Surrogate Mother (2022)
Pros of Being a Surrogate Mother
There are plenty of pros to becoming a surrogate mother! Although every woman who becomes a surrogate has her own individual, personal reasons for making this choice, let’s look at six of the most common.
Giving the Gift of a Baby Through Surrogacy
The number one reason most surrogate mothers give as their primary motivation in becoming a surrogate is the opportunity to give the chance to build a family to someone else, who otherwise would never have been able to realize their dream. To see the joy on someone’s face as they realize they can finally have a family and welcome a child is one of the most emotionally rewarding moments you can have.
Surrogate Compensation Package
Although financial gains are never the main driver behind a woman’s decision to become a surrogate, surrogates are generously compensated for their time, for their personal sacrifice and for their willingness to undergo the medical testing and procedures necessary for surrogacy.
When looking at surrogate compensation, you should be aware that pay and benefits packages can vary widely, not only from agency to agency, but from state to state. Plus, not all benefits packages are the same. Here at Pinnacle Surrogacy, we offer a complete compensation and benefits package that includes base pay, plus benefits that cover such things as maternity clothing, travel and childcare reimbursement, and lost wages, if necessary. Our minimum compensation package is $60,000 in California and for all other states in which we work it is $50,000. Of course, the base pay increases if you are a repeat surrogate.
For a complete breakdown of surrogate compensation and benefits, please see our pay and benefits page here.
Loved Being Pregnant? Become a Surrogate!
Many women simply love the experience of being pregnant but have already completed their own families. Surrogacy is a wonderful opportunity to experience pregnancy once more without adding to your own family and having the stress of raising another child. Plus, your healing time after delivery is much faster when you are not caring for an infant.
Here’s what one of our surrogates said when discussing her journey recently:
“Being pregnant is amazing (for those of us who experience healthy pregnancies) but there is something VERY cool and amazing when you are pregnant for the sake of someone else to be able to become a parent. It’s the most humbling experience ever”.
Surrogate Support Networks
When you make the decision to become a surrogate mother, you enter into a very special group of people who have made the same decision. You will make bonded connections with your fellow surrogates who will in many cases become lifelong friends!
Because of these strong connections plus the continuous support you will receive every step of the way from our dedicated, experienced, and professional staff, you will never be alone in your surrogacy journey.
Enjoy an Unmatched Sense of Accomplishment
When you can say you have been a surrogate mother and have given the gift of a child to someone who could not otherwise have had a family, you will have accomplished something that very few people can claim. The confidence you will feel, the sense of satisfaction that comes from having done real, meaningful work in the world, and the personal growth you will gain from this experience is unmatched.
Benefits of Being a Surrogate
The benefits of being a surrogate are many. Some benefits will be more important to potential surrogates than others, as each individual will have her own primary motivation for why she wants to begin the surrogacy journey. No one benefit is more “correct” or better than others, as it’s your individual experience and personality that will determine what is most important to you.
In summary, the main benefits of being a surrogate are:
- Being able to give the invaluable gift of a child
- A generous compensation and benefits package
- The joy of being able to experience pregnancy without adding to your own family
- Belonging to an incredibly close and supportive network of surrogates and professionals
- Having the opportunity to create a close and even long-term bond with intended parents
- Accomplishing something that few other people have done
Cons of Being a Surrogate Mother
Just as there are many pros to becoming a surrogate mother, there are cons as well. If you are considering this choice, you need to carefully consider all of the information, including reasons why you may not want to make this decision. You owe it to yourself to take an honest and straightforward look at any negatives you may encounter from this experience. Let’s take a look at several of the most common.
Surrogacy Can Be Physically Taxing
Any pregnancy demands a lot from a woman, emotionally as well as physically, and you must take extremely good care of yourself during the pregnancy to ensure you, as well as the baby, remain in optimal health. One of the most important things you can do for yourself and the baby is to get proper nutrition. We’ve put together a helpful guide to nutrition in surrogate pregnancy that you can find here.
To support you throughout the process here at Pinnacle Surrogacy we offer free counseling, nutrition consultations, and arrange weekly deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables to all our pregnant surrogates
Will I Regret Being a Surrogate?
This is a fair question and is one you are bound to ask yourself at least a few times! Surrogacy can be emotionally challenging for some women, plus pregnancy hormones may add to this emotional roller coaster.
Some women wonder if they will get attached to the baby? This is a natural question but with the right support and the counseling we offer, this is unlikely. Our thorough surrogate screening includes a detailed psychological assessment to ensure you are 100% ready for this journey.
Here’s the most important thing to keep in mind: because at Pinnacle Surrogacy, all surrogates are gestational carriers only and are not in any way genetically related to the baby, so the process is more emotionally straightforward.
Surrogate Pregnancy Risks
Surrogacy pregnancy, just like any other pregnancy, involves risks that must be considered and understood before commencing your surrogacy journey.
There is risk in every pregnancy, and with IVF there is added risk. All surrogates should complete their families prior to their surrogacy journeys and/or be content with their family building goals in the event they are left unable to carry another child after surrogacy. While the probability of this happening is low, it is still possible, and must be considered in making your decision to become a surrogate.
Time Commitment that Being a Surrogate Requires
One of the cons of being a surrogate is the time commitment involved, as the process is lengthy and is likely to consume quite a bit of your life for at least a year, and often much longer. You will need time to devote to the extensive psychological and medical screening process, matching, planning of the pregnancy, and of course the 9 months of being pregnant.
The time commitment involved is a big part of the process and needs to weigh in as part of your decision to become a surrogate. You will need to be patient, responsive and flexible as you go through the process. Unexpected events, such as a pregnancy complication, having to have a c-section or being unable to work for a while are all possibilities to consider as you make your decision.
Facing Skepticism From Unsupportive Family or Friends
You can’t go through this journey without the support of your nearest and dearest as surrogacy affects your entire immediate family. Will there be people unsupportive of surrogacy asking questions or offering unsolicited comments or unwelcome advice? Absolutely!
You need to expect this and be prepared to deal with these comments and not be affected by the negativity. Also, be prepared to answer questions around “what happened to the baby?” from concerned neighbors or moms at school who may have not been aware of your pregnancy being a surrogate one. This is where being part of a close-knit support group of fellow surrogates and professional agency staff is invaluable.
What Are the Risks of Being a Surrogate Mother?
As we have stated, being a surrogate mother is not for everyone. In addition to all of the wonderful pros of surrogacy, you need to consider the cons as well. We want you to be fully informed and have all the information you need to make the best decision for you and your family.
In the end, this is your decision, and you have to take into consideration all of the potential negatives as well as the positives to be certain you are making the right choice for you. The main risks of being a surrogate mother are:
- The physical and emotional stress brought on by the pregnancy
- Fears that you might regret becoming a surrogate, including concerns you might become attached to the baby
- The risk that you might have complications resulting in an inability to have more children
- The large time commitment that is required
- Tolerating potentially insensitive or unsupportive comments from friends or extended family members
What Is It Like Being a Surrogate?
While it’s great to hear about others’ experiences of being a surrogate, each individual is unique in the way she experiences this journey. Surrogacy for each woman will never be exactly the same as it is for other women.
While there are many rewards as well as challenges with a surrogate journey, many women find the experience to be so fulfilling they complete the surrogacy journey more than once.
Some of our previous surrogates who have completed their journeys with us did share their experiences and we would like to share with you their personal stories of becoming a surrogate, as you may find these helpful.
Is Being a Surrogate Worth It?
Here at Pinnacle Surrogacy, we believe that for the women who have gone through our screening process and have become surrogates, these journeys were definitely worth it for them. But will it be worth it for you? This is a question only you can answer.
Yes, there are risks, including possible medical complications, emotional stress and a huge time commitment. And there are also rewards, including giving the priceless gift of a child, a sense of wonderful accomplishment, and a generous compensation package.
Again, no two surrogate journeys are alike. Take into consideration all of the pros and cons we have outlined, read about others’ experiences, talk with your family and then make your decision based not only on the “facts” but how you feel deep in your heart about this decision.
Should I Become a Surrogate?
We have the answers and experience to guide and support you, as after all, we’ve been there before! Be assured we will give you all the information and insights to help you do what is best for you. Our team members have all been surrogates themselves, so they have a unique appreciation for what you are facing as you make this decision.
If you are ready to apply, please submit a short surrogate application online here.
For more information we invite you to explore our website where we have more on the process of becoming a surrogate, and also see our Surrogate FAQ where we answer many of the questions you may have.
You may also find this page helpful on some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding who is qualified to be a surrogate.
Again, please don’t hesitate to reach out either online or by phone if you have questions or simply want to talk things over with our professional staff. We are here to support you in whatever decision you make!
My Personal Story with Becoming a Surrogate
I have been a Surrogate twice now; trust me when I say this…
Contrary to what some may believe there are a whole lot of people out there who take great pleasure in helping others in many different ways. In my case, I wanted to give something to another that brought me the most joy. What I had to give was the gift of parenthood. I had seen so many people struggling to have a child for various reasons, and being a mother of a child myself I truly knew what they were missing. This is how my exciting journey to becoming a surrogate began.
It all began with finding the right help which meant finding a surrogate agency. Keeping in mind this was a new experience for me, you can imagine the enthusiasm that was in my voice when I made that first contact with a surrogate agency that I found online.
My excitement was soon to be shattered though. The first thing I learned after a short conversation with this surrogacy agency was that it was all about the money! One of the first questions I was asked was what compensation I was looking for. That thought had not even crossed my mind because it was not my intent.
Overwhelmed, to Say the Least
What I also took away from my experience with the first surrogacy agency I contacted was that there was a long road ahead of me to become a surrogate. After getting past the line of questioning, I was matched with a couple and the rollercoaster began. I was expected to travel to a random clinic chosen by the intended parents, and be subject to testing and the embryo transfer procedure done by a doctor I have never met before; with no one I knew holding my hand.
Then there were the legalities that needed to be completed. I was signing a contract that didn’t support me, my current or future needs, but of course, as a first-time surrogate, I didn’t know that at the time. Loss of wages compensation capped? It didn’t seem inappropriate at first, and with no one representing me passed the matching but myself, I found out on my own skin just how unfair the contract was, on many levels. On top of all of this were the costs that I would need to incur like the travel and accommodation expenses as well as additional testing that was required.
The Beginning of the End
After finally going through all the hurdles that were potentially capable of standing in my way, ten months later I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. If it wasn’t for a friend who agreed to stay with me during the birth, for which I will be forever grateful to her, I would have been alone, as my intended parents were delayed and didn’t make it on time. However, within minutes the new mom arrived and was able to meet her daughter for the first time. The look of amazement, joy and pure love on her face made becoming a surrogate all worth it.
Where to Next?
Giving birth to a surrogate baby was the most worthwhile thing that I have ever done for another human being in my life. It felt amazing, it felt right and gave me a sense of accomplishment that is almost hard to describe. I knew instantly that I would do it again if I could and I also knew one more thing: if I was to be a surrogate mother again, I would need someone to fight in my corner through the surrogacy journey from beginning to the end.
Pinnacle Surrogacy to the Rescue
With careful research, I discovered Pinnacle Surrogacy. I found an agency where I was a part of the team, and here I was supported every step of the way, day and night. Where everyone understood that being a surrogate is not about the business, but a true calling for me. I met my physician and medical team very early in the qualifying process and I knew he would be the doctor transferring the embryo and looking after me, regardless of who or where the intended parents were. One of the nurses, as well as Pinnacle Surrogacy staff, were always a phone call away, supporting me with whatever I needed. I had the confidence that my needs as a surrogate were an utmost priority and the best part of all – the agency Director was there to hold my hand when I gave birth. Having three of her own children and having been a surrogate twice herself, she knew this was the least that she could do to support me.
The Gift of Life
Carrying somebody else’s child in my belly twice now was a surreal experience. Some people, even close to me, still don’t “get” why I did it. I guess they haven’t seen the faces of new parents picking up their child for the first time. The child (or two!) that they thought they would never have. It’s a priceless experience and so worthwhile. But it can be difficult and daunting, if you don’t know the ins and outs of surrogacy and how to ensure you are supported.
Being a Gestational Surrogate
If you are like me but are just beginning to take interest in possibly becoming a surrogate you are going to have many questions that you need answers to. You are also going to need explanations that you can understand. Do your research and choose wisely – you will need someone to be there for you along the way – not just for the matching with intended parents.
Here are some questions you could start with:
- Who is my contact at the agency and how will we communicate?
- What expenses will I need to incur?
- Do I have to have a relationship with a fertility clinic or do you provide that connection? How will I know that I am in good hands?
- What if I have a medical issue? Who will help me?
- Do you have an attorney who will guide me through the contract process? Who will ensure that that my interests are represented?
- How do I know if I’ve got the right insurance coverage? What if I don’t?
- What if I want a single embryo transfer? Can I control that?
- Who will be there when I give birth and hold my hand if I need it?
If you feel as though becoming a surrogate is right for you, begin the process now with a trusted surrogacy agency and to see if you qualify. You can contact Pinnacle Surrogacy online here, or call us on (310) 566 1487. if you are ready to apply, please submit your details through our short application form here. We are looking forward to hearing from you!
Can a surrogate keep the baby? – Surrogacy Contract And Legal Considerations (2022)
The goal of a surrogacy contract is to prevent any such problems from occurring. While there was a high-profile case in the 1980s where a New York surrogate did try to keep a baby known to the courts as Baby M, the surrogacy in question was not arranged by a commercial surrogacy agency and lacked the carefully worded and legally binding contracts used today. If your surrogacy contract is well written, everyone’s rights are protected. (On a related note, the Baby M case also did not benefit from the careful screening of surrogates used by agencies such as Pinnacle Surrogacy).
Where is surrogacy legal?
In the USA, commercial surrogacy is legal in all states except for Nebraska, Louisiana, and Michigan. This does not, however, mean surrogacy laws are consistent across the other 47 states. With no federal laws governing surrogacy, each state has written its own laws and regulations. As a result, the wording of a surrogacy contract in California will be different from a similar contract written in accordance with Texas state law.
This means it’s important local laws are kept in mind when choosing both a surrogate and deciding where to carry out the surrogacy process. To facilitate this, Pinnacle Surrogacy only operates in states where surrogacy is legal. Likewise, all screened surrogates in our program must live in states where surrogacy is permitted by law.
What should be included in a surrogacy contract?
A surrogacy contract is a long and involved legal document. The contract includes a wide range of legal protections, contingencies, and assurances for both the surrogates and intended parent/s, as well as protecting the well-being of the baby before and after birth.
Drafting a legal contract for surrogate services requires input from the intended parents, the surrogate, and their respective legal representatives. Without being an exhaustive list, below are some examples of what should be included in a surrogacy contract:
- Governing Law Provisions: As noted above, it’s important to be clear on which state’s law covers the surrogacy agreement and where, if necessary, any court action would take place. This becomes especially complicated if the intended parents are not from the United States, as they must also consider the legality of surrogacy in their home country.
- Conception Details: The contract should detail all aspects of conception, including whose gametes are used, how many embryos will be transferred per attempt, how many attempts will be made to implant embryos, whether the embryos used are fresh or frozen, any genetic screenings, and similar details.
- Parental Rights and Custody: It is exceptionally important that any contract with a surrogate mother discuss the legal parentage of the child. This includes ensuring the intended parents are established as the legal parents and relieves the surrogate (and her spouse, if applicable) of all rights and responsibilities concerning the child. The contract will also ensure the intended parents have immediate custody of the child upon birth.
- Death and Disability of the Intended Parents: To protect the child’s future, a surrogacy contract provides a contingency plan should the intended parents die or be severely disabled before the agreement is concluded. Intended parents must provide proof their estate planning is in order. This includes naming guardians for the child, and trustees to ensure that the surrogacy agreement is completed and all surrogacy costs and obligations met.
- Divorce, Separation, and Marriage: The contract must address what happens should any of the involved parties divorce, separate, or marry before the completion of the agreement. To avoid potential problems, surrogacy contracts often restrict both the intended parents and the surrogate from taking any of these actions until after the birth.
- Health Insurance Details: The intended parents are responsible for obtaining health insurance for their child, and typically pay for any insurance deductibles, co-payments, or uncovered medical costs related to pregnancy and delivery. The surrogate must have her own health insurance policy reviewed before the contract is written to make sure the policy does not exclude her from surrogacy.
- Payment Details: Differing state laws dictate what amounts can be paid to surrogates and in what manner. The contract will include details on the amount paid, methods of payment, and timing of payments.
- Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Similar Events: No pregnancy is without risk. The contract will specify what happens in the event of a miscarriage or consensual abortion, and whether another pregnancy attempt would be made (this decision is typically at the discretion of the surrogate). In the tragic event that the child dies at birth or shortly thereafter, custody of the remains is usually given to the intended parents who would make burial or funeral arrangements. While this is the most upsetting part of a surrogacy contract, such details provide everyone with guidance should the worst happen.
- Birth Certificate: The child’s name will be included in the contract, along with instructions for the hospital for how the intended parent’s names will be listed on the birth certificate.
Can a surrogate keep the baby? – The bottom line
The short answer is no. A surrogate contract protects the surrogate’s rights but also makes it clear the surrogate has surrendered all rights to the child. To further prevent such conflicts, Pinnacle Surrogacy pre-screens all surrogates carefully, employing psychological as well as physical screening to further decrease the risk of a surrogate trying to claim ownership of a child.
Entering into a surrogacy agreement is a complex decision. To help prepare yourself for the process, be sure to read more at the Pinnacle Surrogacy blog, and our Surrogacy FAQs. If you have questions, feel free to contact us. We’ll provide you with the facts you need to make the right decision for your family.
Pros and Cons of Surrogacy (2022)
If you want to become a surrogate and are looking for more information, please see our article on the pros and cons of being a surrogate mother here.
Now let’s get a closer look at the pros and cons to surrogacy when it comes to adding a baby to your family.
Pros of Surrogacy
There are plenty of pros of hiring a surrogate to have a baby and add to your family:
You Will Most Likely Have a Baby Via a Surrogate!
Yes, the most obvious pro to surrogacy is that you will most likely have a baby. Surrogate mothers are healthy women who are in their prime childbearing years, with proven pregnancies that they have already carried to term. This means that surrogacy success rates primarily depend on the quality of the eggs and sperm that are used to create the embryos the surrogate then carries to term. Learn more about surrogacy success rates here.
Surrogacy Eliminates Intended Mother’s Risk of Carrying a Pregnancy
Surrogacy completely eliminates the intended mother’s risk of carrying a pregnancy to term. This is especially important if the intended mother is at a more advanced maternal age or she has underlying medical problems that could negatively affect her pregnancy, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, kidney or liver disease, and autoimmune conditions, among others. These conditions can put the baby at risk as well, so using a surrogate would eliminate the risks posed by these medical problems.
Surrogacy Allows the Intended Mother to Continue with Normal Work and Life Routine
Most women choose surrogacy due to either having a medical condition that would put them at risk if they were to carry a pregnancy or because they are in an advanced maternal age. But for whatever reason a woman chooses surrogacy, this still means she can go about her life without having to accommodate being pregnant, such as the normal emotional stressors that occur with pregnancy as well as the often uncomfortable physical changes or unpredictable effects on future health. There are no rights or wrongs involved in any of the various reasons a woman might consider using a surrogate to have a baby.
Surrogate Baby Can Be Your Biological Child
If the intended mother still has viable eggs and the male partner’s sperm is also viable, then an embryo created from these and carried to term by a surrogate will give you a child that is biologically completely yours, just as if you had carried the pregnancy yourself. If the intended mother is in a more advanced maternal age and her eggs are no longer viable, donor eggs can be used to create the embryo.
Surrogates are not genetically related to the baby as their eggs are never used in the surrogacy process. The surrogate does not share any DNA with the baby. The only biological influence the surrogate has on the baby is that her uterus provides the environment for growth and development. This environmental influence is known as epigenetics and you can find more information about surrogacy epigenetics here.
Surrogacy Is Supported In Most of the States
The good news is that surrogacy is supported in most of the states. Many states now have very favorable laws protecting the intended parents, with the exception of the states of Michigan, Louisiana and Nebraska, where surrogacy is completely banned. If you live in one of these states where surrogacy is banned, you may wish to consult an attorney who is experienced in surrogacy law, so you can understand what options may be open to you when it comes to having a baby via a surrogate. You can learn more about surrogacy laws and processes in different states here.
Surrogacy Is a Route For Male Gay Couples or Single Men to Become Fathers
For male gay couples or single men, surrogacy is the only option that will enable them to have a biological child, as their sperm can be used to fertilize donor eggs. Of course, the baby is then genetically related to the male who provided the sperm for the creation of the embryo. These fertilized donor eggs are used to create an embryo that the surrogate will then carry to term. For more information on family building for gay men, please see this page on surrogacy and egg donation.
Advantages of Hiring a Surrogate Mother
The advantages of hiring a surrogate mother to have a baby are many. These advantages include the very high probability that you will indeed have a baby, the complete elimination of any risk to the intended mother posed by a pregnancy, plus a surrogate pregnancy allows the intended mother to carry on her life without disruption, regardless of the reason she is choosing surrogacy.
Another advantage of hiring a surrogate mother is that the baby can be your biological child if you, as the mother, have viable eggs. In addition, most states support surrogacy with a few exceptions. For gay male couples or single gay men, surrogacy provides a pathway for these individuals to become parents.
Cons of Surrogacy
As with any decision that has the potential to be life changing, there are cons of surrogacy as well as pros. It is important that when making your decision about whether to hire a surrogate, that you take all of these potential drawbacks into consideration. Let’s get a look at some of the cons of surrogacy here:
You Will Not Get the First-hand Experience of Pregnancy or Childbirth
Although most women delight in experiencing pregnancy and childbirth, in spite of the discomfort, using a younger surrogate with a proven successful prior pregnancy may actually be a lower risk to both the pregnancy and the baby. While it may be disappointing to face that you may never have the personal experience of pregnancy or childbirth, for some women this is the absolutely right decision to make, for themselves and for the child to come.
Surrogacy Is Expensive
Yes, surrogacy is expensive, plus there are not very many financing options. We understand that this can be a big financial burden for many people and so we are quite transparent as to all the costs involved. Please see this page for more information on how much surrogacy costs so you can plan accordingly.
National Shortage of Surrogate Mothers
Most people are unaware there is a national shortage of surrogates in the United States. This shortage is due to both the extremely strict criteria that women must meet to qualify as a surrogate as well as the increasing numbers of intended parents, both from the U.S. and abroad, who are looking to hire a surrogate.
Here at Pinnacle Surrogacy, we put every effort to recruit surrogates on an ongoing basis, and although it’s not the case with our agency, some surrogacy agencies have a waiting list that means over a year of waiting time for intended parents.
If you decide surrogacy is the right path to parenthood for you, we recommend connecting with us right away to discuss your individual circumstances and plan your journey.
Disadvantages of Having a Baby via a Surrogate
Although there is not a long list of disadvantages of having a baby via a surrogate, disadvantages do exist. When a woman chooses to use a surrogate, she of course will not have the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. In the long run, especially for those women with medical conditions, this may be the safest choice.
Other disadvantages are around financial concerns, as surrogacy is expensive and there is a real lack of financing options. Plus, there is a national shortage of surrogates, and some agencies other than ours have waiting lists that are over a year long.
Should I Hire a Surrogate To Have a Baby?
When you ask yourself the question: should I hire a surrogate, you have to take into consideration all the pros and cons of doing so. Only you, or you and your partner together, can make this decision for yourself and your family.
Great things start with a great conversation, so contact us either online or call us directly at 310 566 1487. Please reach out if you have any questions at all, as we have the answers and experience to guide and support you in your decision. We would be delighted to speak with you!
The Complete Guide To Surrogate Pregnancy Nutrition
Let’s face it, ladies—the pregnant body is, well, different.
Sore nipples, mood swings, strange cravings (pickles and peanut butter, anyone?), plus itching, sweating, and swelling—these are just some of the many side effects that come with growing a tiny human from scratch. Your body is going through a lot, and as you’re facing these many beautiful, surprising, and, yes, sometimes challenging changes, you’ve got to take care of yourself. This is especially true in a surrogate pregnancy.
Good surrogate pregnancy nutrition is a must, and while it can’t erase stretch marks or cure your pregnancy brain, eating well throughout pregnancy can guard against complications and make sure you gain no more—or less—than the recommended amount of weight.
Good nutrition for pregnant women leads to a healthy surrogate pregnancy and a healthy surrogate baby. Even if you are still preparing for a surrogate pregnancy, nutrition is key to boosting your health and preparing your body to carry a healthy child. What you choose to eat—and to not eat—will impact your health and happiness now and throughout your time as a surrogate.
With all the advice out there for pregnancy nutrition, it can be overwhelming to know what and how to eat as a surrogate. Our Pinnacle Surrogacy surrogate pregnancy nutrition guide will help you prepare your body for a healthy surrogacy and continue good nutrition habits during pregnancy.
Benefits of Good Surrogate Pregnancy Nutrition
You’ve probably heard that old adage that pregnant women are “eating for two.” But the reality is that second person is teeny tiny and definitely doesn’t want that cheesecake. Those hard-to-ignore cravings may have you waddling straight to the ice cream shop or burger joint—but while indulgence here or there is fine, remember that good pregnancy food and nutrition are essential to keeping you and the surrogate baby you carry safe and healthy.
Eating well throughout your surrogacy journey offers these benefits:
- Maintaining a healthy weight: gaining enough to support the growing baby and your body’s increased nutritional needs, while making it easier to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight after your surrogate baby is born.
- Improving the odds that the baby is born at a healthy weight: low birth weight is associated with breathing problems and NICU stays, and high birth weight may mean a more difficult labor, with an increased likelihood of a C-section.
- Boosting the baby’s brain development and reduce the risk of birth defects such as spina bifida.
- Reducing common pregnancy complaints, including morning sickness, constipation, and heartburn.
- Reducing the odds of complications such as gestational diabetes, anemia, preterm labor, and preeclampsia.
Also, keep in mind that there are surrogate BMI requirements, although requirements may vary between surrogacy clinics and are typically determined by a fertility doctor. BMI is a measure of body size, taking into account a person’s weight and height to determine how much of their weight is body fat. High and low BMIs are associated with increased risk in pregnancy, so to qualify for surrogacy, your BMI should be below 30. A nutritious diet can help keep you healthy throughout your surrogate pregnancy.
The Best Foods for Surrogate Pregnancy
So if sugary and greasy indulgences are off the menu, what can you eat during and to prepare for a surrogate pregnancy? Fill your plate with these foods to provide your body (and the growing baby) with healthy foods for pregnancy.
Fruits and Veggies
Yes, mom was right—nutrient rich fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. And they are among the best food for pregnancy. When it comes to incorporating them into your diet, a good rule of thumb is to “eat the rainbow”: choose fruits and vegetables in every color to give your body a variety of nutrients. Deep-colored blueberries offer plenty of antioxidants, while deep green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and chard are packed with fiber, iron, and calcium. Fruits and veggies provide fiber and high-quality carbs to fuel your body. And the antioxidants they provide, including folate and zinc, will improve your fertility and keep the cells in your body healthy.
Eating seasonally ensures you get the maximum nutrition from each bite—plus, fruits and vegetables simply taste better when they are in season. Make sure the fruits and vegetables you eat are organic if possible and definitely washed well to avoid contaminants from the soil where they are grown.
A quick word about fruits—while an apple is definitely better than a donut, fruits taste sweet because they are full of sugar. Aim for only two servings of fruit per day. A serving is about as much as you can fit on your hand. Grapes and berries are great for heading off your cravings for desserts, but keep vegetables as your go-to snack. Eat as many vegetables as you want throughout your surrogate pregnancy.
Healthy Fats and Dairy
“Fat” can be a scary word for those trying to eat healthily. But there are two kinds of fat—the “bad” kind, called trans fat, is found in junk and processed food, and it should definitely be avoided. But saturated fat, the healthy kind of fat, can actually boost your health and prepare your body for pregnancy. Once you’re pregnant, healthy fats can increase your energy and promote brain and eye development in the surrogate baby you carry. These beneficial fats can be found in avocados, nuts, and seeds, and even in pasture-raised meats and eggs. Another good source of “good” fats is fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and mackerel.
Got milk? Recent studies have shown that full-fat dairy, including cheese, can help with maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, metabolizing lipids, and promoting fertility. Whole milk may actually be better for you than low-fat, especially if it is organic and grass-fed, offering benefits from vitamin absorption to heart health. Full-fat dairy is more filling and is a great way to get in those healthy fats, but drinking low-fat dairy may inadvertently increase sugar intake.
A healthy pregnancy starts in the brain, controls body function and produces key hormones. And did you know that a healthy brain starts in the gut? Gut health is essential to brain health. In fact, serotonin—that “happy” hormone that makes you feel great—is actually created in the gut. To lift your mood and improve brain function during your surrogacy, include foods rich in probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, and pickles, in your fertility and pregnancy diet.
Protein is the building block of human cells. Since your body is busy putting together a new human, it needs as many of those building blocks as it can get. Help it out by making protein a key component of your nutrition during pregnancy. Meat—especially unprocessed and pasture-raised—is, of course, a classic choice. Eggs are a great protein-rich option as well, and vegetarian or vegan surrogates should load up on lentils, beans, and grains.
Stay hydrated! Drinking enough water throughout your surrogate pregnancy will help prevent low amniotic fluid and premature labor. We recommend about four quarts of water per day.
Foods to Avoid
Consider everything on this list a big no-no while you are pregnant or preparing for surrogacy.
Sugar and Sweeteners
Sweets taste great, but stay away. Cutting out sugar from your diet can help stabilize blood sugar, avoid insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and help you maintain a healthy weight throughout your surrogacy. Avoid artificial sweeteners as well, which compromise gut health and put the baby at risk for childhood obesity.
Processed dairy, snacks, and sweets add calories without providing any pregnancy nutrition benefits for you or the baby. Plus, they contain additives and preservatives and can cause excess weight gain during your surrogate pregnancy. Instead, choose clean, whole foods.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s time to say goodbye to that early morning, mid morning and afternoon cups of coffee. Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant and can make it harder to get pregnant and even increase the risk of miscarriage during the first trimester. Research suggests limiting coffee, or even cutting it out if you can, at least three months before you intend to begin your surrogate pregnancy. Depending on your fertility agency and doctor recommendations, coffee, as well as herbal teas or supplements consumption will be contractually limited for surrogates to one caffeined drink a day.
Alcohol and pregnancy simply don’t mix. While research isn’t clear about the effect that occasional drinking can have on your fertility, once you’ve undergone a cycle of IVF and there’s a chance you could be pregnant, you need to stop consuming alcohol. Exposure to alcohol in the womb can cause lifelong physical and mental health problems. Most fertility agencies contractually prohibit surrogates from consuming alcohol, smoking tobacco (or anything else), and taking drugs during their surrogacy pregnancy.
Here at Pinnacle Surrogacy we take the health of our surrogates seriously and we care about nutrition for pregnant women. We know that great pregnancy nutrition leads to healthy surrogate pregnancy, and healthy babies, so we provide the following services:
- Weekly deliveries of organic fruits and vegetables
- Nutritional counseling at the beginning of each trimester, and more often if there is a need
For more information about becoming a surrogate with us, surrogate pregnancy nutrition or preparing to become a gestational surrogate, contact us or call 310 566 1487. If you are ready to apply, you can submit your details through a short application form here.
How to Prepare to Become a Surrogate Mother
Why Be a Surrogate Mother?
First of all, you need to be clear about your reasons for making this decision so you can have a ready answer to the question of why be a surrogate mother. The benefits of being a surrogate mother are many. Probably the most frequently cited reason surrogate mothers have as their primary motivation is being able to give the absolutely invaluable gift of a child to someone who would not have been able to have a baby on their own.
Of course, being a surrogate mother entitles you to a very generous compensation and benefits package, although compensation is usually never the primary reason a woman considers embarking on this journey. If you are considering doing this, then you have already carried a successful, healthy pregnancy to term and are raising a child. Most likely you enjoyed the experience of being pregnant, so surrogacy lets you experience the joy of pregnancy again without adding to your own family.
In addition, when you become a surrogate mother, you will step into an incredibly close and supportive network of both surrogates and professionals. Plus, by becoming a surrogate mother, you will have accomplished something that few other people can say they have done.
For more information on both the benefits as well as the disadvantages of becoming a surrogate mother, see our page on pros and cons here.
Research Surrogacy Well
Yes, it’s important to do your research and do it well. Many women who are considering surrogacy are concerned with issues regarding termination, how many embryos will be transferred and so forth, but please, discuss your questions and concerns with a medical professional, not Dr. Google!
Then, consider such factors as your physical limitations, your overall health, and the family that already relies on you, as well as your belief system and your values. When you are sure about these variables and are sure about your boundaries and have been educated about them, stay firm on them.
Understand the Surrogacy Process
Possessing a good understanding of the medical and biological processes involved in becoming a surrogate mother is essential. No, you don’t have to become a fertility specialist, but you will find that the more you understand about the process, the easier it is to make the necessary decisions. Plus, you will undoubtedly be educating family members and close friends as well who may be concerned about your decision, so you need accurate information.
Particularly important for the potential surrogate mother to understand is that surrogacy does not use your egg, so your individual genetics are not involved. You will not be at all genetically related to the baby you carry, although because you do provide the environment for the baby’s growth and development, you do have an environmental effect, known as epigenetics. Plus, contrary to what you may have heard, the surrogate mother does not share blood with the baby.
You also need to have an understanding of why certain medications are given to prepare you for the pregnancy, as well as how the embryo transfer process works. We have more information for you on becoming a surrogate here and also more detail on surrogacy epigenetics here.
Support Network for Your Surrogacy Journey
We cannot underscore enough the importance of having a strong support system, both emotionally and physically. One that understands both your decision, and something about the process itself as well. Ask yourself if your husband or partner supports you in this? Will you have the support of your family and friends
Is Your Own Family Complete?
For anyone considering a surrogate pregnancy, it’s best that their own family is already complete. Just as in any pregnancy, complications, although they are not common, can happen. If your own family is complete, a complication that leaves you without the ability to have more children would not be as disastrous.
Do You Have the Right Mindset for Being a Surrogate?
The right mindset for being a surrogate is essential. Have you cared for others’ children in such a way that you are able to differentiate between being nurturing to them and bonding to them? Do you have mental safety nets in place, such as a trusted therapist, counselor or other individual to whom you can turn for support?
Are You Financially Secure Without Surrogacy Payments?
Although surrogates are compensated generously for their time, effort and commitment, the money you will receive must not be your main motivation to become a surrogate. You must already be financially secure, which means being employed or being a stay at home mom with a steady household income. You cannot rely on surrogacy compensation as your main income. Please see this page for more information on surrogacy compensation.
Check That You Qualify to Become a Surrogate
Please be sure you understand and meet all the requirements to qualify to become a surrogate. These requirements are there for a very good reason: to keep both you and the baby as healthy and safe as possible. While some surrogate qualifications may be flexible and may differ from one surrogacy agency to another, there are some that cannot be compromised. Please see this page for more information on surrogate qualifications.
Surrogacy Process Needs a 12–18-month Commitment
Even if you meet all the requirements and qualify to become a surrogate, the surrogacy process needs a 12 to 18 month commitment. Do you have an unbroken 12 to 18 months to commit to the surrogacy journey? This means planning to stay in the same geographical area for the 12 to 18 months and not moving, other than locally. This also means you are not planning to change your relationship status during this time, such as getting a divorce or getting married. You’ll need to be in as stable a situation as possible, as this is best for both you and the surrogate baby.
Understand Your Wishes, Rights, and Obligations
Once you have understood everything that goes into becoming a surrogate, now is the time to be really honest with yourself. What is really important for you in your journey? Having everything sorted out and being sure you understand all aspects of surrogacy, including your wishes, your rights and your obligations is critical. When you reach this point, you can sign your surrogacy contract with complete confidence and certainty that you are doing what is right for you and your family. At Pinnacle, Surrogacy, we provide your legal representation at no cost to you, you will be supported by an attorney experienced in surrogacy laws. For more information on surrogacy contracts and legal considerations please see this page.
How to Prepare My Body for Surrogacy?
The answer to how to prepare my body for surrogacy is the same as in any pregnancy. You want to be sure you are in the best health possible, both physically and emotionally, so as to make the pregnancy healthy and safe for you and the surrogate baby.
Good nutrition is at the heart of a healthy pregnancy and that begins as soon as you make your decision to become a surrogate, even before the transfer of the embryo and actual pregnancy. Here at Pinnacle Surrogacy, we take this preparation process seriously and offer free counseling, nutrition consultations and also arrange deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables to all of our pregnant surrogates. Here is more information on nutrition in surrogate pregnancy to help keep yourself as healthy as possible.
Preparing to Be a Surrogate
The very best way to start preparing to become a surrogate is to speak to us. Each one of our surrogacy coordinators have been surrogates themselves, multiple times, and can speak from their personal experience. They are true experts who can and will guide and support you throughout your surrogacy journey in a way that is unparalleled.
If you are ready to apply to become a surrogate, please complete and submit our short online surrogate application online here.
Plus, some of our surrogates who have completed their journeys share their personal insights into their experiences and you can read those surrogate stories here