Becoming a surrogate mother is a life-changing decision—one that carries immense responsibility and great rewards. As you consider this path, understanding the surrogate mother requirements is crucial. Let’s explore the essential qualifications and guidelines for those who embark on this remarkable journey.
Surrogate Mother Requirements
Eligibility for becoming a surrogate means meeting the surrogate requirements for the different types of surrogacy. It doesn’t matter whether you are an independent surrogate or work with an agency; you must meet the specific lifestyle and health standards that ensure you are physically capable of undergoing 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.
Initial Pre-Screening: Basic Qualifications
Each surrogacy agency and fertility clinic will have their requirements to be a surrogate mother. Still, most demand that a potential candidate meets specific criteria and undergoes thorough screening before becoming eligible.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) provides guidelines for gestational surrogacy. In general, surrogate candidates must meet all these ten surrogate mother requirements listed below to start:
- Proven Pregnancy Experience: One fundamental requirement for a surrogate mother is a history of successful childbirth and parenting. Having previously given birth to a healthy child demonstrates practical knowledge and experience in navigating the challenges of pregnancy.
- Smooth Reproductive History: No complications during pregnancy or delivery. This requirement aims to minimize potential risks during the process.
- Idea Age Range: Be at least 21 and no older than 45. This age range is considered the best for physical health and a successful surrogacy journey.
- Healthy Weight: Has a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI). Healthy Weight:
- Surrogacy-Friendly Location: Residing in a surrogacy-friendly U.S. state or Canadian province is crucial. This ensures a secure and regulated environment for everyone involved.
- Family Support: Having a supportive network is essential. This helps with emotional well-being and provides practical support during the surrogacy journey.
- Financial Independence: The surrogate must be financially independent.
- Responsible Lifestyle: It includes making healthy choices and committing to a stable and secure way of living during the pregnancy.
- Smoke-Free Environment: Surrogates must be non-smokers and reside in a smoke-free environment.
- Drug-Free Lifestyle: Avoidance of recreational drugs is a non-negotiable requirement for surrogates.
It’s important to note that ASRM guidelines serve as a reference, and specific requirements may vary depending on the IVF clinic.
Screenings and Background Checks:
Becoming a surrogate involves a series of screenings and checks to guarantee you’re fully prepared for the responsibilities ahead. What are some of the screenings you can expect?
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 entrusted with the intended parents’ baby, the screenings are done for their comfort and to ensure you are responsible for surrogacy.
It’s not uncommon that you’ll talk with a social worker about your motivations to become a surrogate. You and your significant other will be interviewed 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 and what you could feel during and after the pregnancy. You need to understand, before becoming pregnant, why you’ve chosen to become a gestational carrier.
Potential surrogate mothers must 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 fertility treatments and pregnancy.
You must also agree not to take drugs, drink alcohol, or smoke during the pregnancy, as these can endanger the growing baby’s health.
Disqualifications for Surrogacy
While many incredible women aspire to become surrogate mothers, specific circumstances and conditions may disqualify you from pursuing this path.
Let’s explore some of the disqualifications for surrogacy:
- Health conditions or complications that could pose risks during pregnancy
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- BMI out of range
- Live in an area where surrogacy is not legally recognized
19 Commonly Asked Questions about the Surrogate Mother Requirements
Many potential surrogates have questions about the surrogacy process. Your doctor can answer your questions 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?
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.
Can a woman going through menopause become a surrogate?
Most women going through menopause are in their 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 considered ineligible to become a surrogate.
Is becoming a surrogate after a tubal ligation possible?
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 egg during the fertility process.
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.
Can an HIV-positive woman become a surrogate?
If you are tested for HIV and are positive, you cannot become a surrogate. The virus can spread to the baby during pregnancy or birth. This is a disqualification for surrogacy.
Can a woman with a history of preeclampsia be eligible for the surrogacy process?
Preeclampsia can be extremely dangerous, even fatal, to the mother’s and unborn child’s health. It leads to high blood pressure, kidney damage, and other health problems. If you had preeclampsia in one pregnancy, you will likely experience it in subsequent pregnancies. Therefore, you may not be eligible to become a gestational surrogate.
Talk to your doctor to learn more about your specific situation.
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. 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.
What if a woman has polycystic ovarian syndrome?
PCOS could affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant. Women with PCOS are likely to experience preeclampsia, endometrial cancer, and gestational diabetes. They also have a higher chance of delivering preterm.
A doctor will let you know if your PCOS can affect your chances of carrying a child successfully, but you may be ineligible for surrogacy.
Can a woman with endometriosis be eligible for surrogacy?
Endometriosis is a condition in which it’s harder to become pregnant and could increase the 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.
What pregnancy conditions can disqualify a woman from becoming a surrogate mother?
Each fertility clinic and surrogacy agency has its rules governing which pregnancy-related condition disqualifies a woman from becoming a surrogate. 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 pregnancy conditions affecting your ability to become a surrogate.
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 the wait time before becoming a surrogate.
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 surrogacy, you must quit breastfeeding and start having regular menstrual cycles to ensure a successful IVF process.
Is a woman who’s never had a baby eligible for the surrogacy process?
The majority of surrogacy agencies and fertility clinics want surrogates who have already had one successful pregnancy before they are eligible for the process. This is a requirement to be a surrogate mother because there are too many unknowns:
- Have an underlying health condition.
- Be unable to carry the baby to full term.
- 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. Surrogates must understand what will happen to them – emotionally and physically. This is why most agencies will not accept a woman who has never been pregnant as a surrogate.
How often can a woman be a surrogate mother?
There is a multitude of factors that determine the number of times a woman can act as a surrogate. However, the decision will rest on the agency she works for, her doctor, and the fertility clinic being used.
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 agency to 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.
Does mental illness history disqualify a woman from being a surrogate mother?
Each agency has its rules governing mental illness. Surrogate mothers must set up and go to appointments, take medication correctly, and legally agree to the agreement. If a mental illness keeps you from being able to do all this, you cannot become a gestational or traditional surrogate.
You must also be emotionally stable, as you’ll have a range of emotions to contend with during pregnancy and after delivery. Most agencies request that a woman stop taking anti-depressants and other mental illness medication before she can qualify as a surrogate.
Can a diabetic woman become a surrogate mother?
When you are a diabetic, pregnancy makes it harder to control your blood glucose level. It is entirely possible to control your diabetes during pregnancy. Still, 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. However, you need to talk with your doctor and the fertility clinic to learn what could happen to you.
Can you become a surrogate 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 child after that, then no, having a miscarriage does not change your ability to be a gestational surrogate.
Can you become a surrogate mother if your spouse/partner is not supportive?
Unfortunately, no! Your spouse/partner must participate in the medical/psychological assessment process. Also, your spouse must be included in your surrogacy contract if you are married.
Your spouse/partner must be supportive and willing to participate in surrogacy.
The First Big Step Towards Surrogacy
If you are considering becoming a gestational carrier, it’s essential to understand the specific surrogate mother requirements you’ll need to meet. While there may be exceptions in some cases, this article outlines what most intended parents, surrogacy agencies, and fertility clinics look for in a surrogate candidate.
The fact that you are even thinking about it means that you have some of those critical requirements for being a surrogate mother. If you’re ready to take that first exciting step, join the MySurrogateMom community and apply to be a surrogate mother.