Becoming a surrogate is not an easy decision to make, but for some women, it’s an obvious choice—something they were called to do. At Arizona Center for Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, we’ve seen many, many women become surrogates and give the priceless gift of a baby and endless joy to another family.
But even if you’re sure you want to be a surrogate, you’ll need to consider everything involved in the process. If this is the first time you’ve seriously thought about becoming a surrogate, you may be nervous about what to expect. While every woman’s experience is different, here is a glimpse of what it’s like to be a surrogate and what you can expect during your surrogacy journey.
Before the Pregnancy
When you first apply to be a surrogate, you will have to go through an extensive screening process to make sure you’re physically and emotionally ready for this undertaking. After you’ve completed and passed the screening, the time you may wait to be matched with intended parents can vary drastically.
Once you’ve been paired with a couple and you mutually decide that you’re a good fit for each other, you’ll have to sort out the legalities and sign a contract. The contract will likely address sensitive topics like the number of embryo transplants you’re comfortable committing to, selective reduction (the possibility of reducing the number of fetuses if more than one embryo successfully implants), and the financial compensation you will receive. It’s best to use this time—before signing—to ask whatever questions you have about what’s expected of you and establish an open, honest relationship with the intended parents.
If you choose to sign the contract and move forward with surrogacy, you will begin to go through extensive fertility treatments to regulate your cycle and make your uterus as fertile as possible for the incoming embryos. Typically, these treatments include daily fertility shots and regular doctor’s appointments and tests to ensure you’re physically ready and able to carry and deliver a child.
It’s important to note that embryos may not successfully implant in the first cycle; it often takes several embryo transfer attempts to achieve a successful pregnancy.
During the Pregnancy
Once an embryo successfully implants, the rest of the pregnancy is relatively normal. You may have several appointments with the infertility clinic that performed the embryo transfer in the early weeks of the pregnancy to make sure everything is developing properly, and from there, you’ll see your OB-GYN for regular check ups. Usually, all your copays are covered by the intended parents, and depending on what you agreed upon, they may attend the doctor visits and check ups with you.
As you go through the pregnancy, you may want to take extra steps to create memories and bonding moments for the baby and intended parents. Most moms-to-be will create ‘baby books’ to document the pregnancy and surrogacy journey. You will also want to prepare the baby for the emotional transfer of going home with their parents; you can ease the transition by having the intended parents talk to the baby whenever you’re with them and familiarizing the baby with sounds from their parents home (like their favorite music or recordings of them talking to the baby).
After the Pregnancy
If you’ve bonded with the intended parents, you’ll likely feel joy and excitement once you give birth. Seeing the intended parents hold their baby for the first time will be a memory you’ll never forget. Most surrogates are just happy to be able to give them the baby they’ve been dreaming of, however, everyone is different, and you may struggle emotionally after your pregnancy and surrogacy journey is over—that’s normal too (and may very well be due to pregnancy hormones). If you are having a difficult time after birth, reach out to a surrogacy support group, your surrogacy agency, or infertility clinic for support. In some cases, you may be able to reach out to the intended parents as well; contact with the intended parents and baby varies from family to family and is usually something that’s decided upon before you even become pregnant.
Whether you struggle post-pregnancy or not, it’s important to have a support system to lean on during this time.
If you have more questions about becoming a surrogate mother or what surrogacy entails—or if you’re curious about building a family through surrogacy—you can contact us at AZCREI for more information, by calling (520) 326-0001 or visiting us online.