Most of your pre-pregnancy surrogacy preparations will be positive—what’s more exciting than giving a family an opportunity to grow? As a surrogate, you’re giving the intended parents the gift of a lifetime.
However, like any other pregnancy, it’s important to anticipate any potential medical complications that may arise. As a surrogate, you may experience additional obstacles during fertilization or post-pregnancy.
Fertility drugs may be prescribed to surrogates to encourage their body to receive the embryo. Common side effects of fertility drugs may include hot flashes, multiple gestation, visual impairment, cervical mucus abnormalities, and luteal phase deficiency (or improper development of the uterine lining, which can make it difficult for the baby to attach). You may also be at risk for infection at the injection site, or experience an allergic reaction to any IVF treatments you undergo.
Though less common, fertility drugs may also lead to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) which can range from mild to severe. Lesser symptoms include bloating, nausea, diarrhea and mild weight gain. More severe cases may experience shortness of breath, pleural effusion (fluid build up between lungs and chest), cease of urination, and severe abdominal pain.
There may be non-medical complications as well. If you’re a United States citizen, be sure to check the legality of surrogacy in your state to know what rights are afforded to surrogates and IPs.
There are inherent medical risks in pregnancy to begin with, though as an approved surrogate mother, you will have gone through the surrogacy screening and evaluation process to ensure your psychological and medical welfare.
Regardless, there may be a few surrogacy-specific risks associated with your pregnancy. There is a high likelihood that you will be carrying multiples, the risks of which include preterm labor or low birth weight for the babies. As the surrogate, you may be at risk for Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or placental abruption. While rare, there is also a heightened risk of ectopic pregnancy, in which the embryo implants outside of the uterus.
Once the baby (or babies) are delivered safely into the world and into the arms of their IPs, the post-pregnancy recovery is no different than that of a traditional pregnancy. One requirement of surrogates is that they have undergone one pregnancy previously, so this should be both expected and familiar.
Like any other pregnancy, you may experience a range of different short- and long-term symptoms, including postpartum infections, excessive bleeding, perineal pain, vaginal discharge, hair loss, or stretch marks, amongst other potential conditions.
In some cases, surrogate mothers may experience depression during or after pregnancy if they’ve forged a strong emotional connection with the child they’re carrying. If you suspect you may be feeling PTSD-related symptoms, reach out for professional counseling to determine the best course of action.
For potential medical complications, talk to your doctor about any discomfort or abnormal side effects you may be experiencing. Keep the IPs in the loop, and let them know about any medical issues you may be experiencing. Communication is key—it’s your responsibility to relay the wellness of their unborn child to them. In all likelihood, they will be present at all and any doctor’s appointments—an ideal scenario for surrogates and IPs alike.
On top of any fertility treatments or other procedures you may have to endure as a surrogate, you should maintain a healthy nutritional plan that ensures physical fitness and adequate nourishment for you and the baby.
One of your most powerful tools as a surrogate will be your emotional support system. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends, family, and, if appropriate, the IPs for emotional backing during your surrogacy journey. The best way to anticipate or counteract negative emotions during pregnancy is to address your emotions directly and early.