For women considering becoming gestational surrogates or who may be already starting on the process, the thought of becoming ill from a virus can be frightening. These are nervous times and pregnancy is a vulnerable time. While new viruses are more difficult to fight, there are several steps all pregnant women can take to protect themselves and their little ones.
Currently, the best available first line of defense for the flu – still by far the most prevalent potentially dangerous virus – is to get an influenza flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends pregnant women get the flu shot if they have not already as they are more likely to get sick. The CDC says that it is safe for pregnant women to receive the vaccine at any point during the pregnancy. Even though there are two types of flu vaccine, the flu shot, and nasal spray, the CDC only recommends the shot as effective for individuals who are pregnant. By receiving the vaccine, pregnant women reduce their chances of becoming severely ill as well as protecting the baby’s health in the first few months following birth before the young ones can get vaccinated themselves.
One of the most important requirements of becoming a surrogate is you must have already given birth and have a child at home. Why is that? There are two main reasons for the requirement. Each surrogate needs an established record of fertility and a history of an uncomplicated pregnancy for purposes of safety. Having a child at home is beneficial in terms of ensuring a pleasant experience for surrogates as well as the intended parents and child.
Physically, it is much safer for the surrogate to have already given birth because it shows that her body is properly adapted to the process. Psychologically, a woman who has previously given birth is familiar with the process and mentally prepared for the physical changes that will occur. Just like anything else, giving birth becomes easier with experience.
So, why does a surrogate need to currently have a child at home? First of all, this establishes that the surrogate is stable and has the right kind of life experience. If you can be a good mom, you can do just about anything! Also, a surrogate must protect and care for the child she carries while also being comfortable once the process is complete and the child goes home with the intended family. Having at least one child at home may make that easier.
Most of us know vitamin D as the sunshine vitamin, created when your skin responds to sunlight and also as a nutrient in certain foods. It’s important in human health for a number of reasons, but why is vitamin D in pregnancy so important and why is supplementation usually called for? Well, vitamin D is an integral component in your immune system, regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus connected to the normal growth of bones and teeth, and it can reduce even help with depression. Even though vitamin D is produced naturally when your skin is directly exposed to light and can be found in food sources such as fatty fish (salmon, sardines, etc.) egg yolks, shrimp, and fortified milk, cereal, yogurt, and orange juice, even non-pregnant people with highly varied diets often need to supplement.
What happens if you don’t have enough vitamin D? Lack of this nutrient risks bone abnormalities (soft or fragile bones), depression, and poor immune function. Why is it so hard to get enough vitamin D without supplements? Many factors can affect your absorption of vitamin D, including being in a high pollution area, wearing sunscreen, spending time indoors, and living in big cities where buildings block sunlight, even having darker skin can be an issue – the same melanin that protects your skin from the sun also makes vitamin D less easy for the body to manufacture. Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include tiredness, aches, pains, a general sense of unease, all the way up to bone and muscle pain.
Hormone production increases to prepare your body for a successful pregnancy. But, as everyone knows, the side effects can involve a roller coaster ride of emotions, from irritability to giddiness, emotional fragility, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. Mood swings in pregnancy are pretty much to be expected. Another related common symptom is mental fog, where a woman’s mind gets forgetful or a little bit fuzzy. If you had any of these symptoms as a surrogate, you might have chalked it up to general stress. But there is something much more powerful going on. Pregnancy brings on a cascade of physical changes – it’s not surprising considering that you’re growing a whole human life!
Due to ethical concerns, it is difficult to study much of what is happening with pregnant women, but animal research indicates that pregnancy rewires the nervous system and may even alter sensory perception. Studies in pregnant rats have found that new olfactory (smell related) neurons form inside the brain, indicating that more neurological and physiological changes in human beings may be probable. Why do these changes occur? On a biological level, the body is increasing the production of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. Women can be more sensitive to increases in progesterone, which tend to cause moodiness.
As a busy mom and surrogate, you’re definitely not afraid of a challenge. You’re good at multitasking and getting things done. So when you suddenly feel a sharp, stretching sensation after moving quickly or just doing something ordinary like taking a single step, you might be concerned. But chances are the pain you’re feeling is connected to a pair of bands in the pelvis, the round ligaments. Even though the sensation is often surprising and uncomfortable, pain caused by inflammation of these ligaments is a complaint many women experience during pregnancy.
Let’s look at some simple steps you can take to identify when round ligament pain is occurring, and how to deal with the issue. Located on either side of your uterus, round ligaments suspend the womb during pregnancy. As the baby grows through the course of the year, these ligaments can stretch and sometimes soften. When this happens, sudden movement can set off a wave of discomfort. Because these ligaments connect to the groin, they can strain when muscles suddenly contract. The pain is usually experienced on the right side of the abdomen or pelvis. Discomfort, however, can occur on the left, or both sides.
So, let’s say you’ve made the decision to become a surrogate, the contracts are signed, the routine health tests are done and the doctor has determined you are healthy and ready to carry an embryo, what can you expect?
The most common type of surrogacy in the United States today is gestational surrogacy. In this type of surrogacy, the eggs come from a prearranged third-party egg donor or the intended mother. When it comes to implanting an embryo, timing is everything. Pregnancy involves a massively complex orchestration of hormones, so in the case of a surrogate pregnancy, a mock cycle must be induced. The mock cycle usually begins with estrogen pills, patches or shots to prepare the uterus to receive an embryo. These hormones are given to the intended surrogate in order to create the necessary thickening of the uterine lining. This is critical for the embryo to implant successfully so a pregnancy can occur. The doctor may check your cervix angle and the length of your uterine cavity to prepare you for the next step: implantation.
Becoming a surrogate mother is obviously a very big decision. Women who elect to become gestational surrogates are giving the immense gift of parenthood to couples and individuals for whom standard reproduction is not in the cards. Women who are interested in doing this are truly special people. However, it’s obviously something to take very seriously. When the Global Surrogacy Services teams formulated our surrogate mother requirements, we created a number of criteria that were crucial for a wide range of reasons. Some are strictly medical or legal in nature. For example, you need to be a US citizen over 21 years and under 38 years of age, and you need to be a resident of a U.S. state where surrogacy is legal.
Some requirements are weightier. You need to have carried out a successful pregnancy and have at least one child at home. This tells our team a great deal about how prepared you are to have a comfortable pregnancy, both physically and emotionally. To protect the surrogate’s health and the health of offspring, we check for things like past illnesses, healthy weight and height ratios, healthy home environments, and more.