Surrogate Mothers - FAQ
What are the requirements to be a surrogate mother?If you are are considering becoming a surrogate mother, please check our Surrogate Mother Qualifications page. Generally, you need to be over 21 years old, non-smoker, in good health and have had a history of an uncomplicated pregnancy/birth.
Who are the intended parents?Intended parents come from all backgrounds and walks of life and have many different reasons for choosing surrogacy. Some have struggled with infertility or cannot safely carry a pregnancy to term, whereas others are same sex couples or hopeful single intended parents looking to create and/or add to their families. You will have the opportunity to determine what types of intended parents are you comfortable working with, and you can review potential profiles and get to know them before agreeing to move forward with a surrogacy arrangement.
How long will it take to match with intended parents?Most surrogate mothers match within 1-6 weeks of joining our program. This depends on the type of relationship you are interested in and whether you share the same values as the intended parents you are considering.
Do I get to choose the intended parents I match with?Yes!
What happens once I have matched?Once you have matched, your intended parents or SCO will send in a referral form with your contact information to the IVF clinic, fertility lawyer and social worker/psychologist to make appointments for your medical/psychological screening. Next, a surrogacy agreement/contract will be drafted and reviewed by all parties. Once everyone has agreed to the term of the agreement/contract, it will be signed and you will be begin the process to become pregnant.
How much contact will I have with the intended parent(s)?It is up to you and the intended parent(s) to decide how much contact you would like to share during and after the surrogacy process. Most intended parents want to receive regular updates throughout the pregnancy, and some surrogates choose to invite the intended parents to key appointments throughout the process. Many surrogates and intended parents establish an ongoing relationship and maintain contact long after the baby is born. Your desired amount of contact should be addressed during the surrogacy planning and matching process.
Do I have to use my own eggs?No, most of the surrogacy arrangements in our program are "gestational" meaning you carry the genetic embryo of your intended parent(s). Traditional surrogacy is also an option if you are open to being a traditional surrogate (using your own eggs).
What is the embryo transfer process like for a gestational surrogate?While cycling with an IVF clinic, the surrogate and egg donor/intended mother are both started on birth control pills (or injectable Lupron - medications may vary) to coordinate their cycles. Once the surrogate mother begins her period she will then start an estrogen supplement in the form of injection, pills or patches. The estrogen helps to build a "triple pattern" uterine lining in preparation for the embryo transfer.
A few days prior to the embryo transfer, the surrogate mother will then start a progesterone supplement in the form of injections or vaginal creams/capsules. The progesterone helps the body to maintain a pregnancy if the transfer is successful until the surrogate mother's natural progesterone kicks in. (Because surrogate mothers are "suppressed" during cycling and do not ovulate, their body will not produce the progesterone needed to support a pregnancy).
The actual embryo transfer procedure takes only a few minutes and is simple and painless. It is very much like a pelvic exam or pap smear. The reproductive endocrinologist will insert a speculum into the vagina and insert a thin catheter through the cervix and into the uterus. Usually under ultrasound guidance, the embryos are then transferred through the catheter into the uterus. Once the embryos have been placed the catheter is removed and given back to an embryologist to confirm that all embryos were transferred. Afterwards the speculum is removed and the surrogate mother will be asked to rest for approximately one hour before leaving the clinic. It is common for surrogate mothers to adhere to 24 hours of strict bedrest followed by 1-3 days of limited bedrest.
A pregnancy blood test is given 10-14 days after the embryo transfer and if the surrogate mother is pregnant, she will continue taking medications for another 10-14 weeks.
Do I have to have injections?Most surrogate mothers will have to take injectable medication but it may depend on the IVF clinic and their protocol.
How many embryos will be transferred?Most surrogates will transfer one embryo but in some instances, 2-4 embryos may be transferred. Ultimately, the decision is between the intended parents, surrogate mother and consulting physician. It is recommended to only transfer what you are willing to carry however, some intended parents and their surrogate choose to transfer more and selectively reduce down if multiples occur. Each embryo transfer cycle is demanding… financially, physically and emotionally so the decision is not always an easy one. It is very important that intended parents and their surrogate mother are all on the same page in regards to how many embryos are to be transferred.
Does my blood type affect whether I can help a couple through surrogacy?It does not matter what your blood type is to be a surrogate.
Do I have to travel?If you are not located close to an IVF clinic, yes. All expenses for your travel will be covered by your intended parents.
Can I bring my husband/partner/companion and/or children if I have to travel?Yes! Intended parents may pay for travel expenses/accommodations incurred by you and your husband/partner/support person. Your child/children may travel with you but please note that typically children are not allowed at IVF clinics during appointments (they will require supervision).
Can I have a support person on the day of the embryo transfer?Yes! Most surrogate mothers will have either their friend/partner or intended parent(s) with them on the day of their embryo transfer. If you do not have a support person or your intended parent(s) is/are unable to be there (such as the case often with international intended parents) SCO will be happy to assist you with providing one of our support workers or another SCO member to accompany you.
Can I be a surrogate if I’ve had a tubal ligation (tubes tied)?Yes! By having had a tubal ligation, you are preventing your eggs from reaching your uterus, which prevents a natural pregnancy. Your eggs are not used during the gestational surrogacy process and you will have no genetic connection to the embryo(s). During the embryo transfer a tiny catheter is inserted through your cervix and the intended parents embryo(s) is/are transferred directly to your uterus. As well, surrogacy after tubal ligation ensures that you will not become pregnant with your own child during the fertility process.
Can I be a surrogate if I have HPV?In most cases, HPV will not affect a developing baby during pregnancy. HPV is a very common type of STI and most commonly results in genital warts. If you have an outbreak of warts close to your due date, you will likely have to have a cesarean section performed to prevent the transmission of HPV to the child.
Can I be a surrogate mother if I have herpes?Like HPV, it’s rare for a baby to be born with birth defects because of a surrogate mother with herpes. However, you may need to have a cesarean section if you have an outbreak close to your due date.
Can I be a surrogate mother if I am HIV+?Because HIV can be spread to a baby through pregnancy or while giving birth, you cannot be a surrogate mother if you’ve tested positive for HIV.
Can I be a surrogate if I've had an ablation procedure?Pregnancy is not likely to occur after ablation, as it destroys a thin layer of the lining of the uterus and makes implantation of an embryo more difficult. Even if you do become pregnant after ablation, you have an increased risk of miscarriage and other pregnancy conditions. Many fertility clinics will disqualify you from being a surrogate if you’ve experienced an ablation.
Can I be a surrogate if I have endometriosis?Endometriosis can make it more difficult for you to become pregnant and may increase your risk of miscarriage. It’s best to talk with your doctor about whether the severity of your condition could affect your ability to successfully carry a child.
How much contact will I have with the intended parents?Every arrangement is different, but typically as much as you’d like and what was agreed upon during the matching stage.
Can I be a surrogate if I’ve never had a child?We generally do not accept women for surrogacy if they have not had a prior pregnancy/birth. It is very important that you have experienced pregnancy/childbirth so that your fertility history is proven. A surrogate without a previous pregnancy comes with many unknowns: Can she carry a pregnancy to term? Are there underlying conditions she isn’t aware of? Can she even become pregnant? Not only does a surrogate mother who has never been pregnant raise medical concerns, but if you’ve never had children or been pregnant, the situation will be confusing and maybe even scary for you. All surrogates need to know what to expect ahead of time — both physically and emotionally — which is why almost all agencies/IVF clinics require you to have been pregnant before becoming a surrogate. We do, however, sometimes accept surrogates that meet the necessary criteria and screening and understand the risks involved with pregnancy/childbirth and their fertility. We have had childless surrogates carry babies successfully in our program to very happy Intended Parents!
Can I be a surrogate if my husband/partner is not supportive?Unfortunately no. Your husband/partner must be supportive and willing to take part in the surrogacy process (including medical/psychological assessments and legal paperwork).
Can I be a surrogate if I’m single?Yes!
I have had 2 caesarean sections, does this affect my ability to be a surrogate mother?Surrogate mothers undergo physical tests to determine whether they are a suitable candidate for surrogacy. One of these tests include an ultrasound or x-ray of the inside of the uterus to check for abnormalities. If you have had a caesarean previously and the tests show no scarring from the incision then it is of no concern. Some women have had 3 caesareans or more and have no scarring in their uterus and go on to carry as a surrogate mother. (Most Canadian clinics will accept surrogates with a history of up to 5 prior uncomplicated caesarean births).
Will all my expenses by covered?Yes, there is no out of pocket cost to be a surrogate mother. All necessary expenses for medical, legal, travel, lost wages, childrecare etc. will be covered by the intended parent(s). Once you are pregnant, all related expenses you incur are covered by your monthly reimbursement.
What is a typical reimbursement amount?In Canada, surrogate mothers cannot receive a fee or compensation, only reimbursement for out of pocket expenses. Typically, this will be between $10,000-33,000 over the course of 10 months (including pre-pregnancy and post partum expenses). The amount you receive depends on the expenses you have.
Do I have to submit receipts?Yes. You must collect and submit receipts for your intended parents. Anticipated known expenses such as prescriptions, accommodations, legal bills etc. can be paid for in advance or directly by your intended parent(s). If you cannot get a receipt for certain expenses you can either take a picture with your cellphone, use a receipt book to create one (such as for babysitting) or submit a spreadsheet detailing your expenses via email.
Will I have to report my out-of-pocket expenses when I file my income tax?No. But you should report it if you are receiving any type of subsidy or assistance from the government (child subsidy, EI, etc...)
If I’m an experienced surrogate can I receive more?No. It does not matter in Canada if you are a first time surrogate or an experienced surrogate. Expenses are related to the expenses you have, not how many times you’ve been a surrogate.
Will I receive a higher reimbursement if I carry twins or triplets?Typically yes as your expenses may be higher. Complications such as bedrest and/or caesarean section may also cause you to have increased expenses.
Are there risks to the health of surrogate mothers?Yes. Surrogate mothers risk all complications that can come from pregnancy and childbirth.
What are the benefits to being a surrogate mother?Surrogate mothers provide an amazing gift for couples and individuals experiencing infertility and/or dreaming of a family. It takes a very special woman to become a surrogate mother and we want to see you remember this experience as one of the best times of your life. Surrogate mothers give the gift of life!
What if the intended parents divorce/separate, change their mind(s) or die?These issues will all be addressed in your surrogacy agreement. Intended parents must name a guardian for their child(ren) in the event of a dispute/death.
Has there ever been a case in Canada where a surrogate mother has been abandoned by her intended parent(s)?Unfortunately yes. There have been at least 7 cases of surrogate mothers in Canada being left with the children they have carried. None of these arrangements have been with Surrogacy in Canada Online and all were traditional surrogacy arrangements (surrogate was genetic mother of child).
Will I have my own legal counsel?Yes. If you are considering acting as a surrogate, it’s important that you understand the law, that your legal rights are protected and that you clearly understand your legal entitlements and obligations as you help another family grow.
Where does the surrogate mother give birth?Surrogate mothers give birth at their local hospital, birthing centre or may have a home birth. It is recommended that a surrogate mother stay close to her family for support during pregnancy/birth/postpartum and she has free choice in having either an obstetrician or midwife (if pregnancy is low risk). Sometimes a surrogate mother will travel to be close to the intended parents location for birth and they may care for her during this time. Many surrogate mothers also choose to have a doula.
Can I have my own OB or midwife during the surrogacy pregnancy?Absolutely!
Will I stay in contact with the baby and intended parents after birth?Most of our surrogate mothers go on to have lasting friendships with their intended parents.
Can I be registered with more than one surrogacy consultant/agency at once?When you first join our program you may be registered with others but you need to inform us immediately if you’ve matched through another program. It’s important that we know your availability/status as intended parents will be considering your profile. Once you have matched we require that you are not affiliated with outside consultants/agencies to maintain the confidentiality of the members of our program.
What are the benefits of being a surrogate mother?Women choose to become surrogates for many reasons. This experience provides surrogate mothers with a deep sense of personal satisfaction knowing they helped another family in the most generous and selfless way possible. Many surrogates also develop a lifelong relationship with the families they helped create and find a sense of community within the world of surrogacy.
Can I not find a couple to help on my own without your program?Absolutely! This is called "independent matching"; where a surrogate mother finds intended parents to help on her own, usually via surrogacy classified websites/family arrangements, etc. We fully support independent surrogacy arrangements and encourage surrogate mothers to go with their own preferences for their journeys. Be aware however that with independent matching there can be issues such as: finding intended parents who are... not fully educated on the process, unable to fully afford surrogacy (putting you at risk with unpaid expenses) or not thoroughly counselled prior to engaging in surrogacy. There is also the lack of having an experienced system of support around you and mediators who can assist in the event of any issues during your arrangement.
I am currently taking birth control pills, should I discontinue right away to become a surrogate?No, it's best to remain on the your birth control pills. With gestational surrogacy, most IVF clinics will start you with a medicated protocol of either birth control pills or other medications to suppress ovulation.
I currently have an IUD, should I get it removed to become a surrogate?If you have a medicated/hormone releasing IUD it's best to have it removed as soon as possible. If your IUD does not release hormones you can have it removed by either your family doctor or by the IVF clinic doctor at your screening appointment. For some women, IUD's that release hormones can have an affect on the endometrial uterine lining (which can 6-10 months to recover).
Why choose SCO?Our commitment to you:
- Quality service and respect in every aspect of your journey.
- Full autonomy with the choice of intended parents you match with and expense requirements.
- SCO support worker available full time to support you with your arrangement.
- Referral to qualified legal counsel.
- Online Support with SCO team members as well as peer support (optional).
- Special events (get togethers, dinners, retreats, media opportunities) for you to attend.
- Mailed care packages (pre-transfer, pregnancy and post partum).