Deciding to become a surrogate is a life-changing commitment to make, and there are many important things you should consider before choosing this path. One of these is the possible risks of being a surrogate mother, of which there are a few inherent ones to know.
Like any traditional pregnancy, a surrogate pregnancy comes with possible surrogate mother side effects and risks. The right surrogacy professional will take detailed steps to help prevent these risks, but the possibility will always exist. Therefore, any woman considering surrogacy should seriously think about how these potential risks and complications could affect her life.
But, what exactly are the potential risks to surrogate mothers? There are two general categories: physical and emotional.
Physical Risks of Being a Surrogate Mother
Any kind of pregnancy comes with physical risks and side effects, and a surrogate pregnancy is no different. When you carry a child, whether it’s your own or someone else’s, you will be subject to the possibility of medical issues like:
- Morning sickness and nausea
- Weight gain
- Back pain
- Gas and bloating
- Itchy skin
- Frequent urination
- Gestational diabetes
- Damage to reproductive organs
- Preterm labor
- And more
Your OBGYN — whom you get to choose based on your comfort level and location — will work with you throughout your pregnancy to reduce the likelihood of these risks and side effects occurring. They will also help you manage any conditions that do arise.
In addition to these traditional pregnancy risks, there are unique medical issues with surrogacy that can arise. This is because of the necessity of IVF treatments, used in the vast majority of gestational and traditional surrogacies today.
You do have to take medicine for IVF with surrogacy, and these medications can cause certain side effects — most of them minor. You will need to prepare for administering certain fertility drugs yourself through shots, and these and other medications can cause:
- Bruising at injection locations
- Temporary allergic reactions
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- And more
The actual embryo transfer process also comes with certain risks and potential complications. While the medical procedure is usually quick and relatively painless, you could experience slight cramping or bleeding from the procedure and be required to stay on bed rest for a few hours or days after the procedure.
There are a few more medical surrogacy risks to be aware of when you carry a baby for someone else. For example, carrying multiples is more common in a surrogate pregnancy than a traditional pregnancy, and this comes with risks like:
- Preterm labor
- Surrogacy miscarriage
- Low birth rate of babies
- Placental abruption
- And more
To reduce these medical risks to surrogate mothers, all women should work closely with a trusted surrogacy professional, physician and fertility specialist. They will create a schedule of medications and recommendations that should be followed exactly. If you become a surrogate, you should stay in close contact with these professionals and update them if anything feels wrong about your pregnancy.
Keep in mind: To become a surrogate, you will need to pass certain medical screening. This screening ensures you are healthy enough for the surrogacy process before even beginning, which will help reduce possible surrogate mother side effects and help your doctor create a personalized plan for a safe pregnancy based on your personal circumstances.
Emotional Risks of Being a Surrogate Mother
While understanding the medical issues with surrogacy is a key part of preparing to become a surrogate, it’s equally important to recognize the potential emotional risks of being a surrogate mother, as well. Being a surrogate is a huge emotional commitment, as you will spend a year or more of your life in an intimate partnership with intended parents, working toward a common goal with the potential for both setbacks and accomplishments along the way.
Many people wonder whether surrogates are negatively affected when they do not go home with the baby they have been carrying for nine months. While this is not an issue for most surrogates (they know from the beginning they are only “babysitting” the child they are carrying), it should be one of the emotional complications you consider. Being a surrogate may also lead to other complications like:
- Depression, pre-partum and postpartum
- Grief and loss following the birth of the baby
- Mental exhaustion
- Guilt over lack of time for your family
- Mood swings from pregnancy hormones
- Stress from a complicated relationship with intended parents
- Emotional pressure from carrying the intended parents’ baby
Before you become a surrogate, your surrogacy professional requires you to undergo a psychological or social screening to discuss these possible emotional surrogacy risks. This professional will speak to you in depth about the emotions you may feel as a surrogate and help you determine whether you are prepared for coping with them in a positive manner.
Key to this is creating a surrogacy support system of friends and family you can turn to during difficult parts of your surrogacy journey. These people should not only provide you practical help (like assisting with household duties and childcare) but also emotional support. In order to get the help you need, however, you’ll have to be open and honest with them and yourself throughout the process.
Keep in mind: When you become a surrogate, your choice doesn’t just affect you but also your family. For example, you and your spouse will need to abstain from sexual intercourse while you are undergoing IVF medication and treatment. Your spouse may also need to take on additional family and household duties while you are on bed rest or otherwise incapacitated during your pregnancy. Having your spouse’s full support during surrogacy can help prevent some of the emotional complications that arise from surrogacy.
A traditional pregnancy can be an emotionally stressful and complicated period, and a surrogate pregnancy can be even more so. However, a good surrogacy professional will provide you emotional support throughout your journey, either through their own social workers or by referring you to an experienced therapist.
Are the Risks to Surrogate Mothers Worth It?
Surrogacy is a deeply personal decision to make — and it’s only one you should make after you have fully researched and completely understand all of the potential surrogacy risks and complications that could occur. A surrogacy professional can answer any questions or address any concerns you may have to help determine whether this family-building process is right for you and your loved ones.
For the women who choose to become surrogates, the potential complications of the surrogacy process are greatly outweighed by the positives of being able to help create a family. They also understand that, by working with an experienced professional, they can reduce these surrogacy risks and focus on what’s really important — changing a family’s life forever.
To learn more about how surrogacy professionals help reduce the likelihood of risks and complications, contact one today.