Surrogacy and Pregnancy: Making Smart Choices
A surrogacy pregnancy, in many fundamental ways, is just like any other pregnancy. First and foremost, the physical experiences of the surrogate are similar to those of carrying their own pregnancies. Surrogates go through the same hormonal changes, experience morning sickness, fatigue, and typical pregnancy symptoms. They undergo the physical transformations that come with carrying a baby to term.
Furthermore, surrogate pregnancies share the same fundamental goal as any other pregnancy: to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the developing fetus. Surrogates take great care to follow medical advice, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and attend prenatal check-ups regularly, just like any expectant mother would. Their commitment to ensuring a healthy and successful pregnancy mirrors the dedication of mothers carrying their biological children.
Finally, surrogate pregnancies often culminate in the same joyous moment as other pregnancies: the birth of a baby. The moment of childbirth is a profoundly emotional and transformative experience for surrogate. It’s a moment filled with love, anticipation, and the joy of welcoming a new life into the world on behalf of extremely grateful Intended Parents.
Standard Surrogacy Pregnancy Care:
A surrogate will be instructed to maintain a healthy lifestyle during her surrogacy journey for her own well-being and that of the baby.
Balanced Diet: Surrogates should eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products. They will need to consume an adequate amount of essential nutrients like folic acid, iron, calcium, and vitamin D. They also should avoid high-sugar, high-fat, and processed foods.
Hydration: Hydration is vital for overall health and can help prevent issues like constipation and swelling.
Regular Exercise: Surrogates should engage in safe and moderate exercise routines, such as walking, swimming, or prenatal yoga. Exercise can help reduce discomfort, improve circulation, and promote a healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
Prenatal Vitamins: Surrogates should take prenatal vitamins as recommended by her healthcare provider. These supplements provide essential nutrients that may be lacking in her diet.
Adequate Sleep: Surrogates should try to prioritize sleep and aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.
Stress Management: Surrogates may benefit from practicing stress-reduction techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or prenatal massage to alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation.
Avoid Harmful Substances: Surrogates should completely abstain from alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs, and excessive caffeine intake during pregnancy.
Regular Prenatal Check-ups: Surrogates should attend all scheduled prenatal appointments with her healthcare provider. These visits are essential for monitoring the baby’s growth and addressing any concerns.
Weight Management: Surrogates should try to maintain a healthy weight gain within the recommended range. Excessive weight gain can lead to complications.
Safe Environment: The surrogate’s home needs to be a safe environment for both for her and for the baby.
Support System: The surrogate should have a support network of family and friends who can provide emotional and practical support during her surrogacy journey.
During pregnancy, it’s essential to be mindful of certain activities and behaviors that can potentially harm both the surrogate and the developing baby.
Here are some things surrogates should avoid doing while undergoing a surrogacy pregnancy:
Smoking and Secondhand Smoke: Smoking during pregnancy is strongly discouraged as it can lead to complications like preterm birth, low birth weight, and birth defects. Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke, which can also be harmful.
Alcohol and Recreational Drugs: Completely abstain from alcohol and recreational drugs during pregnancy, as they can lead to birth defects, developmental issues, and other complications.
Excessive Caffeine Intake: Limit caffeine intake to a moderate amount (typically less than 200 mg per day) as excessive caffeine consumption may increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm birth.
High-Mercury Fish: Avoid high-mercury fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, as mercury can harm the baby’s developing nervous system.
Certain Medications: Consult your healthcare provider before taking any medications, including over-the-counter drugs. Some medications can be harmful during pregnancy.
Hot Tubs and Saunas: Avoid hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms, as overheating can lead to birth defects, especially during the first trimester.
Heavy Lifting: Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activities that could strain your abdominal muscles and potentially harm the baby.
Contact Sports: Engaging in contact sports or activities with a high risk of falling or injury should be avoided to prevent harm to the baby and yourself.
Raw or Undercooked Foods: Stay away from raw or undercooked seafood, eggs, and meats, as they may contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella or listeria.
Handling Cat Litter: If a surrogate has a cat, she should avoid handling cat litter as it may contain a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis, which can harm the baby.
X-Rays and Radiation: Limit exposure to unnecessary X-rays and radiation as they can potentially harm the developing fetus. Inform healthcare providers that you are pregnant before any medical procedures.
Stress and Overexertion: Avoid excessive stress and overexertion, as chronic stress can affect the baby’s development, and overexertion can lead to complications.
Unprotected Sex with Multiple Partners: Engaging in unprotected sex with multiple partners can increase the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can affect both the surrogate and the baby.
Herbal Supplements and Remedies: Some herbal supplements and remedies may not be safe during pregnancy. A surrogate should always consult her healthcare provider before using them.
Ignoring Prenatal Care: Regular prenatal care is essential. Skipping or delaying prenatal appointments can prevent timely detection and management of potential issues.
A Word of Caution: The Overly Controlling Intended Parent
Intended Parents who have too many rules related to diet or lifestyle beyond reasonable recommendations made by qualified medical professionals run the risk of straining the relationship with their surrogate. They may also have a much harder time matching.
Yes, it’s often very difficult for individuals or couples to let go and acknowledge that someone else will be carrying their child, but they have to find an appropriate match and trust her to use good judgement. Surrogates are women with their own lifestyles, dietary preferences, and habits. They have the right to make choices about their own bodies. Controlling their diet and lifestyle beyond medical recommendations can be seen as intrusive and disrespectful of their autonomy.
Additionally, pregnancy is a unique and challenging experience, and undue stress can be detrimental to the surrogate and the developing baby. Constant monitoring and restrictions on their choices can cause emotional stress, potentially affecting the pregnancy’s outcome. Most surrogates are carefully screened by medical and legal professionals and are chosen because they are already committed to maintaining a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy. They understand the responsibility they have toward the unborn child and are typically highly motivated to provide a safe and healthy environment. Surrogates receive medical guidance and supervision throughout their pregnancy from healthcare professionals. These professionals are responsible for monitoring the surrogate’s health and offering advice when necessary. Intended parents should trust the medical expertise of the healthcare team. In many surrogacy arrangements, there are legal considerations in place that outline the responsibilities and expectations of both parties. These contracts often address lifestyle and dietary choices. Trying to exert excessive control beyond what is legally agreed upon can lead to legal complications and resentment.
The ultimate goal of the surrogacy journey is to bring a healthy baby into the world. It’s essential for Intended Parents to trust that the surrogate’s primary focus is on the baby’s well-being and that she will make appropriate choices to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Pregnancy can be unpredictable, and unexpected situations may arise. Allowing some flexibility in lifestyle and dietary choices enables surrogates to adapt to changing circumstances while still prioritizing the baby’s health.
In summary, while it’s natural for Intended Parents to be concerned about the health and well-being of their future child, it’s important to strike a balance between care and control. Trusting the surrogate’s commitment to a healthy pregnancy, respecting her autonomy, and maintaining open communication are key to a successful and positive surrogacy experience for all parties involved.
Frequently Asked Questions: Maintaining a Healthy Surrogacy Pregnancy:
How does a surrogate pregnancy compare to a typical pregnancy?
A surrogate pregnancy shares many similarities with a typical pregnancy. Surrogates undergo the same physical changes and pregnancy symptoms as expectant mothers carrying their own babies. The primary goal of both surrogate and traditional pregnancies is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the developing fetus.
What is the standard pregnancy care for surrogates?
Surrogates receive standard prenatal care, which includes maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, engaging in regular and safe exercise, taking prenatal vitamins, ensuring adequate sleep, managing stress, avoiding harmful substances, attending prenatal check-ups, managing weight gain, creating a safe home environment, and building a support system.
Why is it important for surrogates to follow standard pregnancy care guidelines?
Adhering to pregnancy care guidelines is essential to ensure the well-being of both the surrogate and the developing baby. It helps maintain a healthy pregnancy and reduces the risk of complications.
Are there specific behaviors surrogates should avoid during pregnancy?
Yes, surrogates should avoid certain activities and behaviors that can potentially harm both them and the developing baby. These include smoking, alcohol, recreational drugs, excessive caffeine intake, high-mercury fish, certain medications, hot tubs, heavy lifting, contact sports, raw or undercooked foods, handling cat litter, exposure to X-rays and radiation, stress, unprotected sex with multiple partners, and herbal supplements without medical guidance.
Why should Intended Parents avoid being overly controlling about the surrogate’s diet and lifestyle choices?
Intended parents should avoid being overly controlling to respect the surrogate’s autonomy, reduce stress for the surrogate, maintain a positive relationship, and promote a healthy pregnancy. Excessive control can strain the relationship, lead to conflicts, and create undue stress, which can be detrimental to both the surrogate and the baby’s well-being.
How can Intended Parents strike a balance between care and control during a surrogate pregnancy?
Intended parents should focus on maintaining open and respectful communication with the surrogate, expressing concerns calmly, and adhering to any agreed-upon guidelines within legal contracts. Trusting the surrogate’s commitment to a healthy pregnancy while respecting her autonomy is key to a harmonious surrogacy experience.
Are surrogates committed to a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy?
Most surrogates are carefully screened and chosen because they are already committed to maintaining a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy. They understand their responsibility toward the unborn child and typically have strong motivations to provide a safe and healthy environment.