Ever since the Kim Kardashian surrogacy news came out, people are learning more about why a woman needs a surrogate mother to carry her baby and what the requirements are to be a surrogate. They are often surprised at how intense and regulated the process is for both surrogate mother and the intended parents.
Are there really requirements to be pregnant for someone else?
That may seem like a silly question to many women, but you would be surprised at how many women want to become surrogates, but fail to meet the basic requirements. You may be thinking “I’m healthy and I don’t mind being pregnant for someone” but surrogacy is not just about carrying someone else’s child.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has set certain guidelines that they recommend to ensure the surrogate and baby are safe. While most agencies and physicians will agree on the main points, some IVF Physicians and other experts have their own additional specifications for potential surrogate mothers.
The most important requirement for becoming a surrogate is to be a mom already. This means that you have had at least one successful, live birth with no complications and that you are raising your own child/children. To give you some insight into this, it’s important that a woman have a healthy pregnancy and delivery history and that she already has her own family established. This means that she can understand the journey she is about to embark on.
Another important requirement is that a surrogate cannot be a smoker or use drugs. This may seem like a no-brainer for some, but believe it or not, not everyone understands that smoking during pregnancy is bad for the baby as well as for the mom or surrogate in this case. This also includes women who take certain medications for mental illness on a regular basis.
Women should also be generally healthy and meet certain Body Mass Index (BMI) requirements. Typically this range is between 19-30 although some physicians accept a slightly higher BMI of 32. There is a lot of information about infertility affecting women who weigh too little or too much. Since IVF is already considered higher risk than natural conception, it makes sense to ensure that selected surrogate mothers are definitely healthy enough for the process.
Lastly, surrogate candidates should be between the ages of 21-39 although in some instances up to 42 years old women may be accepted.
Are there any non-medical surrogacy requirements?
There are definitely other requirements for being accepted into a surrogacy program. In addition to those above, the candidate and their spouse/partner cannot have any prior felonies and she must be financially stable and cannot be on government assistance (programs for her children are the exception). The potential surrogate must also have a strong support system, and she and her partner must also pass a psychological screening. Some agencies, reproductive attorneys, or intended parents may have other requirements, such as passing a criminal background check or credit check.
How to become a surrogate mother in Canada
The requirements to become a surrogate mother in Canada are similar to those in the United States and often include:
- Be between the age of 21 and 45
- Must have at least 1 live birth and be raising your children
- Healthy BMI of up to 35
- Abstain from smoking and using drugs
- Be a Canadian citizen with active Provincial Healthcare
- No prior felonies by the surrogate or her spouse
Like in the United States, the doctor you work with may have other requirements in addition to the ones listed here.
What are surrogate mother citizenship requirements?
The laws governing surrogacy are complex and highly dependent on where the surrogate mother lives. As a result, most agencies require that a surrogate be a U.S. citizen, Canadian citizen, or be a legal permanent resident of either country.
What else should be considered?
Ultimately, the physician (and possibly your obstetrician) has the final say and may have additional requirements. Some physicians may limit the number of vaginal deliveries or c-sections a woman can have. Others may decline a woman for certain medications she takes regularly.
After the basic requirements have been met, the surrogate candidate will have to undergo a medical evaluation conducted by the IVF physician and psychological evaluation as well. Some forms of birth control like the Depo-provera injection or an IUD may delay a surrogacy cycle.
If you meet these requirements and are interested in becoming a surrogate mother, please fill out our application! If you don’t quite meet all of these requirements, we encourage you to give us a call anyway. We can discuss your specific situation and determine whether you might still be a good fit for our program. We look forward to working with you on your journey as a surrogate mother!