What are the requirements to be a surrogate mother?For those considering being a surrogate mother... do you meet the requirements and is it right for you? If you are considering being a surrogate mother you often must meet certain requirements. There are exceptions in some cases, but below is what most intended parents, agencies, and clinics look for in a surrogate candidate.
- Canadian Citizen/Permanent Resident
- Be between the ages of 21-49.
- Have had a least 1 child. (We do NOT accept women who have never been pregnant/given birth).
- No history of serious pregnancy/delivery/post partum complications (some exceptions made).
- No history of premature birth (some exceptions are made such as last child born after 37weeks).
- Be in excellent physical, emotional and mental health.
- No serious criminal history. (Must be willing to provide a criminal background check).
- Must be willing (along with partner) to undergo psychological & medical assessments and be willing to provide all medical history.
- Must reside in a stable residence and not planning on leaving the country.
- Married or in a stable relationship. (We do accept single mothers as long as you have a support system in place).
- Have a good support system. (Partner, friends, family that are supportive of your surrogacy journey).
- No serious history of clinical depression or other psychiatric disorders. (Exceptions can be made for situational depression/mild Post Partum Depression/anxiety etc).
- Have a positive outlook on life, considerate of others, compassionate, good communicator and caring.
- Willing to have repeated bloodwork.
- Willing to take IVF medications (both oral and subcutaneous/intramuscular injections of hormones).
- Willing to have invasive medical procedures (sonohysterograms/hysterosalpingograms/endometrial biopsies/IVF transfers/amniocentesis etc).
- Willing to travel to fertility clinics, lawyers, doctor's/ultrasound appointments.
- Take time away from your employer and family for surrogacy (appointments, bedrest, birth, post partum).
- Confidence in fulfilling surrogacy agreement by knowing wholeheartedly that this is the right decision for you and you can confidently say that you would have no issues with relinquishing the child(ren) you have carried at birth.
- No abuse of drugs/alcohol either currently or for at least 3 years.
- Non-smoker or willing to abstain before and during the pregnancy.
- Have not travelled to ZIKA affected areas within the past 3 months.
- Enjoy being pregnant!
- Someone who wants to help others just because they can!
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?Usually 1-4 but there are many variables with how many. Ultimately, the decision is up to the surrogate mother how many she is willing to have transferred (with exceptions, under the guidance of the clinic physician). One train of thought is to only transfer what you are willing to carry whereas some transfer more and selectively reduce down the number they are willing to carry. 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 on the same page in regards to how many 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?Intended parents may pay for travel expenses/accommodations incurred by you and your husband/partner/companion. Your child/children may travel with you but please note that typically children are not allowed at IVF clinics or during appointments.
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 to accompany you.
Can I be a surrogate if I’ve had a tubal ligation?Yes! During the embryo transfer a tiny catheter is inserted through your cervix and the intended parents embryo(s) is/are transferred to your uterus.
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?Unfortunately you cannot be a surrogate if you have not experienced pregnancy/childbirth. It is very important that you have experienced pregnancy/childbirth so that your fertility history is proven.
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?Most 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.
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 $10-33,000 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 before you are reimbursed. Anticipated known expenses such as prescriptions, accommodations, legal bills etc. can be paid for in advance or directly by your intended parents. 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
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 experienced. 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 5 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.
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 a surrogate mother stays 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.
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 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.
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/program/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/programs/agencies to maintain the confidentiality of the members of our program.
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/newspapers, 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.
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 (dinners, retreats, BBQ, family day) for you and your family to attend (optional).
- Mailed care packages (pre-transfer and post partum).