What are the requirements to be a surrogate mother?
Surrogacy is a serious responsibility with great rewards. If you decide to be a gestational surrogate, it means a couple or an individual has a chance to become biological parents with you carrying their baby. If you are looking for information on the surrogate mother requirements, you have already taken the first step.
Becoming a surrogate mother is a life-changing decision, with enormous consequences for the happiness of a hopeful family-to-be. When you decide to become a gestational surrogate mother, you are their best chance of fulfilling that dream.
Eligibility for becoming a surrogate mother means meeting the surrogate mother qualifications for the different types of surrogacy. It doesn’t matter whether you are an independent surrogate mother or you work with an agency; you must meet the specific lifestyle and health standards that ensure you are physically capable of undergoing the fertility treatments and be medically prepared for the pregnancy. You must also be able to carry a healthy child to term – without any possible foreseen complications.
Basic Qualifications of a Surrogate Mother
Each surrogacy agency and/or fertility clinic will have their own surrogate requirements, but the majority demand that a potential surrogate be screened thoroughly before becoming eligible. What are some of the screenings you can expect? What are the ideal qualities of a surrogate?
In general, surrogate candidates must meet all these 10 surrogate mother requirements listed below to start:
- Has given birth previously to a healthy child and is parenting at least one child
- No complications during pregnancy or delivery
- They are at least 21 years of age and not more than 45 years old.
- Has a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI calculator)
- Resides in a US state or Canadian province that is surrogacy-friendly
- Has family support
- Can support themselves financially
- Has a responsible lifestyle
- Non-smoker and living in a non-smoking home
- No recreational drugs
All surrogacy agencies will run a criminal background check. They’ll also conduct a financial screening to ensure you can take care of yourself without needing monetary help from the intended parents. Since you’re being entrusted with an intended parents’ baby, the screenings are done for their comfort and to ensure you are deemed responsible for surrogacy.
It’s not uncommon that you’ll talk with a social worker about your motivations to become a surrogate mother. You and your significant other will be interviewed at length to determine your mental state and if you can emotionally handle the responsibilities of surrogacy. The social worker will talk to you about your current emotions as well as what you could feel during and after the pregnancy. You need to understand, before becoming pregnant, why you’ve chosen to become a surrogate mother.
Potential surrogate mothers will need to undergo a health screening with a fertility specialist to ensure they are physically fit for pregnancy. What does this mean? The specialist will want to know about your sexual and personal history, get blood and urine lab work done and do a comprehensive exam to ensure your readiness for the fertility treatments and pregnancy.
You will also need to agree not to take drugs, drink alcohol or smoke during the pregnancy, as these can endanger the health of the growing baby.
19 Commonly asked questions about the surrogate mother requirements
Many potential surrogates have questions about the surrogacy process. Your doctor can answer the questions you may have about surrogacy and the qualifications you must meet. They can give you a more accurate assessment of your health and how it will affect your eligibility to become a surrogate.
What are some of the commonly asked questions about the surrogacy requirements?
Question 1: What are the acceptable ages for surrogacy eligibility?
If you want to become a gestational surrogate, you need to be at least 21 years of age and not older than 40. Like any pregnancy, the older you are, the more health complications could arise. Many IVF clinics and agencies set age limits for surrogate mothers.
Question 2: Can a woman going through menopause become a surrogate mother?
Most women going through menopause are in the 40s, which makes them ineligible to be a surrogate through an agency. After all, the older a woman is, the higher the chance for complications. Menopause is the body’s way of halting the woman’s reproductive process. If you’re going through menopause or already have been through it, you may be deemed ineligible to become a surrogate mother.
Question 3: Is it possible to become a surrogate after a tubal ligation?
If you have had a tubal ligation, you can still become a gestational surrogate mother. A tubal ligation thwarts the ovulation process, and the eggs used are the intended mother’s (or egg donor’s), not yours. A tubal ligation will not stop an egg from implanting in the uterus. If you have a tubal ligation and become a surrogate, there’s no worry of accidentally becoming pregnant from your own egg during the fertility process.
Question 4: Can a woman with HPV or Herpes become a surrogate?
The most common sexually transmitted disease is HPV, which can lead to genital warts. For the majority of cases, HPV does not harm a developing baby. However, if you’re suffering an outbreak close to the due date, you’ll undergo a C-section to reduce the risk of transmitting herpes or HPV to the baby.
Question 5: Can an HIV-positive woman become a surrogate?
If you are tested for HIV and are positive, you cannot become a surrogate. That’s because the virus can spread to the baby during pregnancy or birth.
Question 6: Can a woman with a history of preeclampsia be eligible for the surrogacy process?
Preeclampsia can be extremely dangerous, even fatal, to the health of a mother and unborn child. It leads to high blood pressure, kidney damage and other health problems. If you had preeclampsia in one pregnancy, you are likely to experience it in subsequent pregnancies. Therefore, you may not be eligible to become a surrogate mother.
Talk to your doctor to learn more about your specific situation.
Question 7: Is it possible to become a surrogate after an ablation process?
If you have undergone the ablation process, the chances of becoming pregnant are low. Why? The process destroys the thin layer of the uterus lining, which makes it harder for an embryo to implant. If you become pregnant after the process, you could suffer a miscarriage or suffer from other conditions. Most surrogacy agencies and fertility clinics will deem you ineligible to become a surrogate mother.
Question 8: What if a woman has polycystic ovarian syndrome?
PCOS could affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant, be it her own ovulation and a gestational surrogate pregnancy. Women who have PCOS are likely to experience preeclampsia, endometrial cancer, and gestational diabetes. They also have a higher chance of delivering pre-term.
A doctor will let you know if your PCOS can affect your chances of carrying a child successfully, but you may be ineligible to become a surrogate mother because of it.
Question 9: Can a woman with endometriosis be eligible for the surrogacy process?
Endometriosis is a condition in which it’s harder to become pregnant and could increase a chance of miscarriages. You should talk to your doctor about the condition. The more severe it is, the less likely you’ll be eligible to become a surrogate mother.
Question 10: What pregnancy conditions can disqualify a woman from becoming a surrogate mother?
Each fertility clinic and surrogacy agency have their rules governing which pregnancy-related condition disqualifies a woman from becoming a surrogate mother. However, some conditions that may disqualify you from being a surrogate include preterm labor, placenta previa, miscarriage, and other medical intervention health problems.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about possible pregnancy conditions that could affect your ability to become a surrogate.
Question 11: How long after giving birth can a woman become a surrogate?
Fertility clinics do not work with any woman who recently had a baby – three months for vaginal delivery and six months for C-section. Talk with your surrogacy agency to determine what the wait time is before becoming a surrogate.
Question 12: Can a breastfeeding mother become a surrogate?
Breastfeeding causes a woman’s fertility to drop because she may not ovulate or have a period. If you want to become pregnant as a surrogate, breastfeeding could cause problems with embryo implantation. To be eligible for the surrogacy process, you must quit breastfeeding and start having regular menstrual cycles to ensure a successful IVF process.
Question 13: Is a woman who’s never had a baby eligible for the surrogacy process?
The majority of surrogacy agencies and fertility clinics want surrogate mothers who have already had one successful pregnancy before they are eligible for the process because there are too many unknowns:
- She may have an underlying health condition.
- She may be unable to carry the baby to full term.
- She may not even be able to become pregnant.
Pregnancy can be a scary time for any woman, but a woman who has never gone through it before will be even more worried. It is important that surrogates understand what’s going to happen to them – emotionally and physically. This is why most agencies will not accept a woman who has never been pregnant as a surrogate.
Question 14: How often can a woman be a surrogate mother?
There is a multitude of factors that determine the number of times a woman can be a surrogate mother. However, the decision will rest on the agency she is working for, her doctor and the fertility clinic being used.
Question 15: Are there any weight restrictions?
Fertility clinics and agencies follow the BMI standard, which measures your weight against your height. While the BMI needed for surrogacy eligibility varies from each agency, the standard is between 19 and 33.
A woman should be healthy to ensure a successful conception and decrease the chance of complications during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about your BMI to determine if you are eligible for the process.
Question 16: Does mental illness history disqualify a woman from being a surrogate mother?
Each agency has its rules governing mental illness. Surrogate mothers need to set up and go to appointments, take medication correctly and legally agree to the agreement set forth. If a mental illness keeps you from being able to do all this, you cannot become a surrogate mother.
It’s also important that you are emotionally stable, as you’ll have a range of emotions to contend with during pregnancy and after delivery. The majority of agencies request that a woman stops taking anti-depressants and other mental illness medication before she can qualify as a surrogate mother.
Question 17: Can a diabetic woman become a surrogate mother?
When you are a diabetic, pregnancy makes it harder to control your level of blood glucose. It is entirely possible to control your diabetes during pregnancy, but most fertility clinics and surrogacy agencies will disqualify you from being one because of the numerous health risks to both you and the unborn baby.
Pregnancy can also lead to gestational diabetes, which will last the entire time you are pregnant. This disease can affect not just you but the unborn child too. If you’ve previously been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you won’t be automatically disqualified. You do, however, need to talk with your doctor and the fertility clinic to learn what could potentially happen to you.
Question 18: Can you become a surrogate mother if you have had a miscarriage?
Having one miscarriage and going on to have subsequent children is very common. If you have had a miscarriage and then have gone on to have your own child thereafter, then no, having a miscarriage does not change your ability to be a gestational surrogate.
Question 19: Can you become a surrogate mother if your spouse/partner is not supportive?
Unfortunately, no! Your spouse/partner will be required to participate in the medical/psychological assessment process. Also, if you are married, your spouse must be included in your surrogacy contract.
It’s important that your spouse/partner is supportive and willing to take part in the surrogacy process.
The first big step to becoming a surrogate mother
If you are considering becoming a gestational surrogate, remember that you need to meet certain surrogacy requirements. There are exceptions in some cases, but in this article, you can find what most intended parents, surrogacy agencies, and fertility clinics look for in a surrogate mother candidate.
The fact that you are even thinking about it means that you have some of those important requirements for being a surrogate mother. If you’re ready to take that first exciting step towards being a surrogate, join MySurrogateMom community.