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December 3, 2015

3 Personality Traits We Look for in Our Surrogates

No two people are exactly alike, which is why we work so hard make good pairings of intended parents and surrogates. Each party is hoping to find a unique set of attributes, and when those come into alignment between a pairing, it’s a beautiful thing. With that said, there are some personality traits that are necessary for all surrogates to have. Here’s a look at the top three.

  1. Optimism

A positive outlook is paramount throughout the surrogacy journey. Not only does aid in bonding between surrogates and intended parents, but it makes also the process much easier. Harvard Medical School put together a fantastic publication on the medical benefits of optimism. Studies have shown that positive people live longer, can stave off infections, have improved cardiovascular health, and may even heal better after surgeries. If it can do all that, imagine what a sunny disposition can do during pregnancy. Although nobody is perpetually optimistic, those who tend to roll with things and expect the best tend to do well as surrogates.

  1. Generosity

One of the key traits is generosity. Even though we look for people who genuinely love being pregnant, it’s still a very selfless thing to nurture a new life for someone else. There’s more involved than simply carrying a baby, and it will require dedication on the surrogate’s part. People with big hearts, who understand what they’re doing and put their whole selves into the process are very special indeed.

  1. Patience and Understanding

There will be times on the surrogacy journey where it feels like a game of “hurry up and wait.” It takes time to complete the preliminary steps, and there will be lots of waiting. There’ll be waiting for results, waiting for milestones, and waiting for exams. Patience and respect for the process are essential. It takes time to create a life and to grow a baby! Both patience and understanding will go hand in hand as a relationship is built with the intended parents as well. They may want to be at all the appointments and coordinate schedules, which at times may feel demanding, but it’s quite likely that they’d move heaven and earth to carry the baby themselves. This also means that the joy of watching ultrasounds and feeling kicks may be marred with pangs of sorrow because they can’t experience it firsthand. Amazing surrogates understand this and are compassionate.

Surrogates are part of a team, so they’re never alone in the journey. SPS supports, protects and guides them every step of the way. The intended parents are also generally very supportive, and a strong bond often forms. Sometimes this friendship carries on years after delivery, but regardless, a surrogate always holds a special place in the parents’ hearts. With that said, it does take a positive, patient, and generous woman to fill this important role, which is why these traits are arguably the most important ones agencies look for. If these traits describe you, you’ll likely make a wonderful surrogate.

November 27, 2015

4 Basic Requirements for Being a Surrogate

Are you considering being a surrogate? It may well be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do, and it takes a very special kind of person to make this kind of commitment. However, not everyone is capable of being a surrogate, even when they genuinely want to assist. Below you’ll find the four basic requirements, so you can determine if you’re a good candidate.

  1. You Have to Be Medically Capable  

The medical requirements for being a surrogate are fairly straightforward. You must:

* Be between the ages of 21 and 40

* Be a non-smoker

* Be generally healthy

* Have had at least one child with an uncomplicated delivery

* Have at least one of your children living in your home

  1. You Must Have a Huge Heart and Compassion

As a mother, you understand the absolute joy that raising a child can bring. You’ve had the quiet moments when you’ve snuggled your baby, as well as the opportunity to delight in your child’s first steps or first words. The people who need your help have likely been struggling with infertility or are unable to carry a baby due to their own health concerns. They cannot experience what you have without your help. Yes, there is a payment for being a surrogate, but women who choose to assist with surrogacy do so because they understand the heartache felt by people who cannot have a child of their own.

  1. You Need to Be Self-Sufficient

There is a lot involved in being a surrogate. Because you’ll need to be traveling to meetings and countless appointments throughout the pregnancy, it’s essential to have your own reliable transportation. You must also be financially stable as any stipends you receive for helping are not enough to replace a regular income. Being a stay-at-home mom absolutely does not disqualify you, though SPS will want to be sure you’re not dependent on surrogacy to make ends meet.

  1. You Have to Have a Lifestyle Conducive to a Healthy Pregnancy

It probably goes without saying, but those who live high-risk lifestyles probably won’t make good surrogates. Usually, this refers to people who expose themselves to alcohol, drugs, or multiple partners. However, prospective candidates should also be able to go nine months without bungee jumping, paragliding, or engaging in other risky behaviors, whatever they may be.

When you begin the surrogacy journey, you become part of a team. Everyone has the same goal in mind: to bring a healthy baby into the world, and into the loving arms of his intended parents. Most women who are interested in being a surrogate aren’t surprised by these expectations at all, simply because they understand how precious life is, and want to give the baby the best start he can have. If you fit the criteria listed here, there is likely a family-to-be who is waiting to meet you. Take care to work with a reputable and established agency, though, to ensure you are looked out for and are protected throughout the process, too.

November 16, 2015

3 Simple Steps to Becoming a Surrogate

Becoming a surrogate is a wonderful and life-changing thing. Your generous gift will make a family complete, and you can rest assured that you will forever hold a special place in the hearts of those you assist. If you have decided to help people make their dreams come true, there are three simple steps on the path to becoming a surrogate.

  1. Apply and Verify Your Candidacy

Because of the sensitive nature of surrogacy, everyone will want to be sure you’re able to have a healthy pregnancy in advance. This means you must be a healthy non-smoker between the ages of 21 and 40, must have already had at least one “easy” delivery, and must have at least one of your children living with you. SPS will verify that you’re financially stable, have reliable transportation, and that you’re genuinely interested in helping. Most of this information will be gathered in your application. Cristie Montgomery will also want to visit you in your home, and will complete a profile about you to show to prospective parents. After this, you’ll also meet with a psychologist, who will ensure you’re prepared for becoming a surrogate.

  1. Meet Intended Parents

Part of an agency’s job is to look out for your interests and make sure you stay protected throughout the entire process. SPS will also match gestational surrogates up with those who want children, who are referred to as “intended parents.” People are generally matched up based on values, location, and preferences. Individuals are shown the profiles of those who seem ideal, and then both parties have the option to meet. Everyone has time to discuss important details, and an agency representative will be present to help ensure that all possible issues are addressed. Following the meeting, everyone will be given time to reflect and make a decision independently. If you or the intended parents would like to keep searching for a better match, you’ll be introduced to more profiles. If everyone agrees to move forward, you’ll move on to the next step of becoming a surrogate.

  1. Undergo a Medical Evaluation

The medical evaluation is the last step on the path to becoming a surrogate. You’ll need to have a physical exam performed by the intended parent’s doctor, and he’ll likely want to perform some tests and have an ultrasound done. He’ll also review the records from your previous pregnancies and deliveries, to make sure you’re capable of having a healthy, uneventful pregnancy.

After the doctor clears you for becoming a surrogate, you are officially part of the team. You’ll get to move on to the really exciting part: making and growing a baby. The preliminary steps discussed here are quite simple, though they’re absolutely necessary, as they help ensure the pregnancy is uneventful and that the baby will be as healthy. SPS will be also there to guide you the entire time, and will stay by your side to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

 

November 4, 2015

3 Expert Stress Relief Techniques to Practice During the Surrogacy Journey

The surrogacy journey is exciting, but it’s not without its stressful moments. A surrogate is balancing her normal duties and responsibilities alongside the pregnancy. Intended parents are also busy preparing, and are likely anxiously awaiting every milestone and appointment, just to hear everything is progressing normally. While all these feelings are completely natural, it’s possible to eliminate some of the stress and anxiety. In fact, using the techniques discussed here can have a positive impact on the pregnancy, and will help keep everyone working together as a team.

  1. Acknowledge and Anticipate Stressors

The first steps to managing stress is to acknowledge its presence, discover its root, and anticipate things that may trigger it. It’s easier to tackle some things head-on. For instance, if you’re worried about variables, talk with the other parties or your surrogacy agency about them. Any of your concerns can be documented in the contract, so it’s taken care of before it has a chance to become a sticking point. You may also find your anxiety rising just before appointments and milestones. Even though you can’t change the situation, you can find ways to cope with it ahead of time.

  1. Take Care of Yourself and Enjoy Life

It’s difficult to manage any kind of stress if your body doesn’t have what it needs to perform well. Things that might ordinarily roll off your back can shake you to your core if you’ve been missing sleep. Be sure to follow a routine, to make sure you’re getting the sleep, nutrition, and exercise that your body needs. It’s also important to take time out to do things that you enjoy because it will improve your outlook and set you at ease.

  1. Try Various Relaxation Methods

There are many relaxation methods that can help keep you calm and focused during the surrogacy journey. Try several of them, and go with the ones that work best for you.

Affirmations: Remind yourself of the positive things in your life and of the good things you are doing.

Meditation: Even five minutes can help. Mediation is often cited as the number-one stress-buster.

Breathing Exercises: Focus on pulling oxygen deep into your lungs for a few minutes.

Join a Support Group: Joining a surrogacy support group gives you an outlet for emotions among people who understand. Ask your agency for recommendations.

Exercise: Light exercise, like walking or yoga, can make you feel better and help you sleep more soundly, too.

Shoulder Shrugs or Stretches: Focus on how good it feels to stretch your muscles, and envision the stress rolling off your shoulders.

Take a Bath: A warm bath and some quiet time to reflect can work wonders.

Laugh: Do something that makes you laugh, whether it’s going out with friends, watching a funny movie, or just looking at silly photos online.

Distract: Sometimes the best thing to do is to draw your attention away from what’s bothering you. Find a task that will keep your mind busy.

Your feelings are absolutely normal, and they will pass as you progress on the surrogacy journey. However, that doesn’t mean you have to live with anxiety and stress. Try these simple techniques and find one that works, so you can enjoy the moment.

October 30, 2015

4 Most Helpful Exercises Surrogates Can Do

Staying fit while pregnant is important for you and the baby you’re carrying, and this is true for surrogates too. Maintaining a healthy weight and remaining active can help with your energy levels and will make it easier for you to bounce back after the baby is born. Plus, it may stave off gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, which is important for both of you. Women naturally tend to take it easier during pregnancy, likely because their center of balance is thrown off and growing a baby is hard work as it is. Surrogates may wish to be especially cautious, but most of the time doctors not only approve of exercise but encourage it. It’s always a good idea to check with the doctor before you change up your fitness routine, but these four exercises usually get the thumbs up and are especially helpful.

  1. Yoga

Surrogates benefit a lot from yoga. Studies suggest it reduces stress, improves balance, assists with posture, makes delivery easier, and can even help you sleep better at night. Most styles of yoga are safe and healthy to do, such as prenatal, restorative, and hatha yoga, but take care to avoid positions that may strain your abdomen, require twisting, or require you to lie down. Certain varieties, such as ashtanga or Bikram aka “hot” yoga, are likely too taxing right now, so keep things light and limit yourself to about 30 minutes per day.

  1. Swimming

Swimming is an excellent choice, as the water helps support some of the weight, which makes movement easier on the joints. It’s also very low-impact, an essential element of prenatal workouts. Although doctors do not typically recommend one type of stroke over another, it’s still important to avoid twisting and to limit your laps to 30 minutes or less per day. Obviously, diving is out for the time being as well. Many women report that hitting the pool helps with morning sickness, and makes them feel better overall.

  1. Walking

Because no special equipment is necessary, and it’s easy on your body, walking is one of the best exercises surrogates can do. It has been tied to stress-relief, better digestion, easier labor, and increases in energy. In the final weeks, walking can also help ease the baby into position, so the delivery process takes less time. Experts generally say 20-30 minutes per day is a good idea. Best of all, this is one activity you can easily include others in, which is wonderful for surrogates who are taking care of their own small children.

  1. Indoor Cycling

Riding a stationary bike is much safer than its outdoor counterpart, plus you won’t be jostled around as much since you’re not contending with bumps in the road. Stationary bikes are also usually adjustable, so you can raise the handles to accommodate your belly as it grows.  

As a reminder, surrogates should always check with the doctor before beginning any routine.

Listen to your body’s signals, drink plenty of water, and keep doing the activities you enjoy. You’ll have a healthier pregnancy and will feel better overall.

October 21, 2015

Top 3 Reasons to Be a Surrogate

It takes a very special kind of woman to be a surrogate, as these women tend to be some of the kindest, most generous people you’ll ever meet. If you’re considering making this momentous step, you have probably come up with many reasons why it’s the right choice for you. However, hearing why others choose to be a surrogate may reaffirm what you already believe, and can give you even more reasons to feel good about your decision. Of all the reasons women typically give, these tend to be the top three.

  1. You Understand the Joy of Parenting and the Heartache of Infertility

Most women who decide to be a surrogate are already mothers. They understand what it’s like to feel “complete,” while holding their little one, and know how wonderful it is to build a family. Though starting a family is easy for some people, others struggle with infertility. They watch their friends and family bring children into the world, and even though they are happy that their loved ones have these experiences, simply seeing a baby can bring heart-wrenching sorrow because they may never experience the same. Surrogate mothers are empathetic to this heartache and are honored when they can help replace this sorrow with the ultimate joy of holding one’s own child.

  1. You Are Helping a Family in a Way Nobody Else Can

Those who turn to surrogacy to complete their families have likely exhausted all other options first, and you may be the only one who can help them. There is strict criteria for surrogate mothers, including health and psychological screenings, and many parents-to-be like to find mothers who live close to them and share similar values. Because of this, it can take a family months to find the right candidate. When a match is made, something magical happens. Those who choose to be a surrogate can make a dream come true, inspire hope, and make the world a little bit brighter.

  1. The Stipend Can Help You Realize Your Dreams, Too

Those who work with SPS receive payments, but this is only a small benefit compared to the emotional satisfaction they achieve. Often times, surrogates will use the funds to improve their lives or the lives of their children. Some mothers are able to stay at home with their own kids as a result while others make down payments on homes or return to school.

The decision to be a surrogate is literally life-changing, for both you and the people you are helping. It’s very common for intended parents and their surrogate to form a bond. Sometimes, this relationship lasts a lifetime, while other times, simply the satisfaction of knowing that you helped a family become complete is what lingers. In any case, it’s a richly rewarding journey, which very few women ever get to experience.

October 12, 2015

Tips for Announcing Your Decision to Become a Surrogate

Even though you’re excited to become a surrogate, announcing your decision to the world can be nerve-wracking. Never before has the phrase “Keep calm and carry on,” ever been more true. Take a deep breath, and follow these tips to make your announcement easier.

  1. Discuss Your Intentions to Become a Surrogate Before You Commit

Pregnancy is exhilarating though it can be exhausting as well. You’ll need to have those closest to you on board with your decision to become a surrogate before you commit. This way, you’ll have all the expected questions out of the way, and you can go forward without surprising anyone. Obviously, it’s a good idea to speak candidly with your immediate family ahead of time, but you may also wish to mention it to those in your social circle or employers that you’re considering surrogacy.

  1. Establish a Support Network

It’s a good idea to “rally the troops,” so to speak, before you make a major announcement. Talk one-on-one to those closest to you, so they can act as your support network. It’s quite likely that your friends and family will be fielding questions when you make the big announcement, and it’s a good idea to set expectations in advance about what you’re comfortable with them saying and what you’d rather keep private.

  1. Be Honest and Sincere

Sadly, not everyone is going to support your decision, but much of this stems from misinformation and misunderstandings about the process. When you discuss your decision to become a surrogate, be truthful, but tailor the information to your audience. For instance, your own children will want to know and understand why the baby won’t be coming home with you after, and it’s a good idea to explain the situation honestly while providing information that’s suitable for their ages. Bear in mind that it takes some people a while to warm up to the idea, and others, especially young children, may need constant affirmation.

  1. Expect a Lot of Questions

Nothing spurs questions quicker than a pregnancy, and it becomes even more intense when it’s a surrogacy. Now strangers on the sidewalk won’t just ask to touch your baby bump, they’ll be quizzing you about your emotions and what the intended parents are like. Be aware that you’ll probably get a lot of questions, and perhaps even some bizarre ones, but remember that they usually come from misinformation or misunderstandings. In the eyes of your peers, you will immediately become a surrogate expert. Take some time to consider how you’ll respond in advance.

  1. Have Fun with It

You’re doing an amazing thing, and you should be proud of your decision. Tell people the oven is yours, but the bun is not, or whatever zany phrases pop into your head. Enjoy the moment, because this time will be over before you know it.

Even though not everyone you talk to will understand your motivations, that’s ok. Keep your support group close and be proud of yourself. The decision to become a surrogate is huge, and you’re giving a loving couple an amazing gift.

September 29, 2015

How Long Does the Surrogacy Process Take?

One of the biggest questions people have is how long the surrogacy process will take. It generally lasts somewhere between 15 and 18 months from the moment an application is submitted until the intended parents are holding their newborn. However, there are no firm answers, as everyone’s situation is a little different and there are many variables. The following is a brief breakdown or timeline of the surrogacy process, so you can get a general idea of what to expect.

Preliminary Assessments: 1-2 months

The initial intake process can take anywhere from one to two months. It begins with an application, which is then reviewed to verify the potential surrogate is a good candidate. Cristie Montgomery also visits the candidate at home and generates a profile of her, which includes health, lifestyle, and personality information. After this, the potential surrogate meets with a psychologist, who performs an evaluation to ensure she’s able to handle the duties associated with the surrogacy process.

Matching: 1-4 Months

SPS serves as a matchmaker, and analyzes which surrogates and intended parents might make a good team. The individuals are given profiles of their ideal matches, and can then choose to schedule a meeting with whomever they agree is a good fit. At the meeting, everyone has the chance to get to know one another, and SPS helps guide the discussion, to ensure all the important topics are brought up. Sometimes, matching can occur almost instantly, though other times it can take a few months before the right people have the opportunity to meet.

Doctor and Attorney Visits: 2 months

Once the potential surrogate and the intended parents have all agreed to move forward, the surrogate visits the intended parent’s doctor, to ensure she’s medically capable of carrying the child. She also visits an attorney to verify all the documents are in order, and that her rights are adequately protected. Between drawing up the documents and the appointments, another two months typically passes.

Medical/IVF Visits: 2-3 Months

After all the preliminary steps are taken, the team finally begins to start the actual baby-making portion of the surrogacy process. One cycle of IVF typically takes four to six weeks. During this phase, the gestational surrogate receives hormones to control her cycle and to prepare her body to accept the embryo. The biological mother’s cycle may also be synced at this time if no embryos have been prepared in advance. It takes two weeks to find out if the embryos have implanted. The average success rate on the first try varies based on many factors, and your doctor will have to discuss the specifics of your case with you. If a viable pregnancy does not occur right away, subsequent IVF treatments may be completed.

Pregnancy: 9 Months

As most people know, a normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks from the start of the cycle. However, a healthy baby may arrive anywhere from seven to eight months after finding out that IVF was successful.

There are other milestones in the surrogacy process, and these are simply some of the larger steps along the way to give you an idea of what it’s like. Because every pregnancy is different, there’s no way to predict exactly how much time will pass from start to finish. Generally speaking, 15 to 18 months is a fairly good guideline to keep in mind as you begin the surrogacy process.

September 16, 2015

Your Top 4 Surrogacy Questions Answered

Surrogacy has come a long way in the past couple of decades, and the Internet is full of misinformation. Whether you’re looking into surrogacy as a parent-to-be or as a potential surrogate mother, it’s important to know the real facts from a reputable source before you make any decisions. This page contains answers to four of the most commonly-asked questions, to help you better understand what surrogacy is about.

  1. Will I Get to Choose Who I Work With?

Nowadays, surrogacy is about finding the right match. Intended parents want to be involved during the pregnancy, and surrogate mothers want the comfort of knowing their values are in line with the intended parents. Therefore, great care is taken to match up the right intended parents with the ideal surrogate mother for their circumstances. Everyone gets to meet in advance, and they have time to carefully consider candidates before going forward.

  1. What Happens if I Have a Disagreement with the Other Party?

Disagreements are incredibly rare when the right people are matched with each other. With the help of an agency, everyone is brought together as a team to discuss all the potential issues before anything begins. That way, there’s a custom-made roadmap ahead of time that everyone agrees upon. The plan includes numerous scenarios so that nothing is left to chance.

  1. Does the Surrogate Mother Have Rights to the Child?

Modern surrogacy is generally referred to as gestational surrogacy. The woman who carries the child has no biological relationship to him or her. Because of this, she also has no legal rights to the baby one he or she is born.

  1. What Happens After the Baby is Born?

Most of the time intended parents and surrogates form a bond throughout the pregnancy. They’ve gone through nine or more months working as a team to have a healthy pregnancy and create a life. The intended parents often attend doctor visits and meet with the surrogate mother repeatedly over that period of time, and the relationship that blossoms is both beautiful and strong. Though there is no legal requirement to continue contact after the baby is born, most people do. Some people intertwine their lives while others simply exchange cards or letters once a year. The relationship afterwards is different in every situation and is as unique as the parties involved.

There are a lot of questions that can and should be answered before going down this path. This is why it’s important to work with an agency that has experience and knows how to cover all the bases. A good agency will take the time to answer any questions you may have, and will preemptively answer the ones you have not yet thought of. It will also act as a matchmaker and mediator, to ensure the process goes as smooth as possible for all parties involved. If you’re considering becoming a surrogate mother, or you’d like to complete your family, be sure to seek the advice of a reputable agency before entering into any agreements.  

September 10, 2015

5 Best Foods to Eat During Your Surrogate Pregnancy

During your surrogate pregnancy, eating the right foods is crucial. First, everything you take in impacts the baby, and as the little one develops, having essential nutrients available can set him or her up for a lifetime of optimal health. It’s also important for your health, because eating wholesome foods will help you feel good during pregnancy, and will enable you bounce back quicker after the baby is born. However, there is a lot of conflicting information available about what foods are best to eat during a surrogate pregnancy. These are the top five choices to integrate into your diet today.

  1. Lean Meat

Meat contains many things that you and the baby need in one package, which is why it tops the list. The obvious benefit is protein, which gives you energy and helps build muscle. It’s also a good source of iron, which can boost your energy as well, and of amino acids, commonly referred to as “the building blocks of life.” Beef and pork are sources of choline, too, which is an essential nutrient that benefits everything from the brain to muscles and nerves. Experts suggest that you should target meats that are between 95 and 98 percent fat-free, and avoid things like hot dogs and deli meats, which sometimes have listeria and other unhealthy bacteria.

  1. Salmon

Even though fish have been debated because of potential mercury contamination, salmon poses a particularly low risk, and is an excellent choice if you limit yourself to 12 ounces per week. It’s a good source of B-vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, like DHA. This is especially important to have as the baby’s brain and eyes develop.

  1. Berries

Generally-speaking, the more naturally vibrant colors you can work into your diet, the better. Blueberries are a prime example, and are one of the most well-known super foods. Blackberries and raspberries also provide health benefits, and they’re all easy to include, whether you snack on them alone, add them to a smoothie, or top cereal and yogurt with them. Blueberries, in particular, are loaded with antioxidants, Vitamins K and C, and manganese, plus are an excellent source of fiber.

  1. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens, particularly dark green ones, like kale, spinach, and Swiss chard, contain lots of things you need during a surrogate pregnancy. The most notable is folate, which benefits the baby’s brain and nervous system, but they also pack a fair amount of Vitamins A, C, and K. Kale tends to be a favorite nowadays, as it’s readily available and can be added to a berry smoothie for surprisingly delicious results.

  1. Beans and Lentils

Most people take advantage lentils and beans, like navy beans, pinto beans, black beans, chickpeas, because they provide protein and fiber. Eating plenty of fiber can help your digestive system immensely, and may prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. Moreover, you’ll also receive folate, iron, calcium, and zinc, which is good for you and the baby.

Maintaining a wholesome diet during your surrogate pregnancy is simple, and these five foods will make it even easier to help you get the nutrients you need. Although water technically isn’t a “food,” it provides a lot of benefits, like aiding in digestion, and helping you absorb all these wonderful nutrients. Be sure to drink plenty of it, so you can have a healthy surrogate pregnancy.