STEP 1: Where to Begin
To be a gestational carrier there are a few very important requirements you must meet.
- At least one healthy pregnancy without any difficulties
- Healthy BMI and general health
- US citizen
- Age 21-40
- Healthy and stable lifestyle
Once you have met the necessary requirements, the next step is to apply with an agency. There are forms that you will need to fill out to help the Intended Parents learn about you and your beautiful family. Most of the questions will ask for insight regarding your prenatal and lifestyle history. Secondly, you need to visit your OBGYN for medical clearance. Don’t worry – your agency will help you get through this process.
- Fill out Surrogate Profile
- OBGYN Clearance Letter
- Schedule a virtual meeting with a clinical coordinator
STEP 2: The Matching Process
Once you have filled out all the forms and met with your clinical coordinator to discuss this journey in detail, it is time to find a match. As a Surrogate, you also get to decide what type of family you are matched with. The Intended Parents review the profile that you have created and request to meet you prior to starting a medical screen. It is important to have chemistry and to be on the same page about a few important topics such as selective reduction, medical abortion and genetic testing. Your agency will support you through this process.
Step 3: The Medical Screen
Once you have met a family that you are excited about working with, the first step is to meet the Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist. The REI will review all of your prenatal records and conduct a thorough screening to ensure you are healthy and pregnancy will not cause you harm. It is important to be honest about past pregnancies to ensure you don’t have any issues with future pregnancies. Most clinics have a similar medical screen.
- Consultation with REI
- Physical Exam
- General health Labs (CBC, Vitamin D, TSH)
- Pelvic Ultrasound to look at anatomy
- Infectious Disease Screening
- Drug test
Most of the tests are familiar; however, the sono histogram can be a new test. The sono histogram is an office exam done after your menses to ensure that the inside of the uterine cavity is normal and optimal for pregnancy. The test is done using a speculum and an ultrasound. The inside of the uterus is filled with water to make sure everything is ok for implantation. The pain level is similar to a pap smear and you will be able to drive home. You have to pass the medical screen to be able to move on to the next step.
Step 4: Psychological Screen
This is a very important screen for the surrogacy journey. Being a gestational carrier is a commitment and it is important that you are psychologically prepared. The psychologist is looking for evidence of depression, anxiety and making sure this is a positive choice for you and there is no coercion. Surrogate mothers should align with altruistic, humanitarian motivations as much as the financial motivations.
Step 5: Legal Contract
Each gestational carrier is assigned their very own attorney to navigate through the rules and responsibilities of surrogacy. It is important to know that it is a priority for you to completely understand the process, procedures, and all legal documents that you will be signing. Your benefits package and responsibilities will be listed in your legal contract. Take time to read it and discuss it with your attorney.
Step 6: Preparing for the Embryo Transfer
You are finally ready for your cycle to begin. Usually, the medication will begin after a period and each physician has their own protocol. You will receive a calendar from your clinical coordinator to help organize the medication you will have to take daily. You will be using some form of estradiol and progesterone to get your endometrial lining ready for the transfer. Some of these medications are injections and it is essential to take them at the same time everyday. Once the lining is perfect an embryo transfer will be scheduled. The embryo transfer is a very safe procedure that takes about 30 min. The doctor will insert a speculum and thread the embryos through the cervix using ultrasound guidance. You will be able to watch this on a screen. The pregnancy test is scheduled for 10 days after the embryo transfer.
Step 7: What Happens after the Embryo Transfer
If you test positive after the embryo transfer it is the most wonderful feeling knowing you have succeeded and you are one step closer to helping a couple realize their dream of forming a family. It is most crucial to continue all medication until otherwise instructed.
Being a gestational carrier is a special blessing that only mothers can experience. As an agency Simple Steps Fertility is committed to providing support, comfort and safety throughout your pregnancy and postpartum care.