Importance of BMI for Surrogacy

Medical science has progressed remarkably in the last few decades and thanks to that, now hopeful parents have many ways to overcome infertility. Modern reproductive science and technology has presented us with assisted parenthood options such as fertility medication, ovulation  induction, IUI, and IVF.  Surrogacy is also a method of assisted parenthood where the surrogate mother carries a child for a person who is unable to/ safely carry a baby themselves.

However, not anyone can become a surrogate as there are many health criteria that a woman must meet first. BMI is one those criteria and a very important one since it gives you an overview of the surrogate’s health. In this article, we will discuss why BMI is such an important factor in becoming a surrogate and how it impact the surrogacy journey itself.

First of All, What is Surrogacy?

Surrogacy is an arrangement where a woman contractually agrees to give birth for another couple or individual. It allows people who cannot have children otherwise to become parents. The surrogacy process is pretty complex, so it requires legal and medical expertise, as well as a solid support system for those involved during the journey. People who are considering having a baby through surrogacy are called Intended Parents (or IPs).

During the surrogacy process, embryos are produced via IVF in the laboratory. Sometimes, the sperm and eggs used to make the baby come from the intended parents. Other times, an egg donor or sperm donor is needed. The fertility expert in an IVF clinic places one or more embryos into the womb of the gestational carrier (also called a surrogate), who nurtures and carries the pregnancy to delivery.

The beauty of surrogacy is that it enables individuals and couples to grow their families, regardless of their ages, backgrounds, sexual orientations, or gender identity.

Intended parents who may consider surrogacy are:

  • Opposite-sex couples who are struggling to have babies
  • Intended parents who have a genetic or health condition that they don’t want to transfer to their baby
  • LGBTQ-intended parents who want to share a genetic tie with their child
  • Intended mothers who cannot carry a pregnancy due to:
    • Lack of a womb (either since birth or removal of uterus via surgery)
    • Uterine Scarring
    • Repeated embryo implantation failure
    • Recurrent miscarriages

So, How Does Someone Become a Surrogate?

Women who want to become surrogates will need to undergo thorough screening, as mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and advised by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). This screening usually includes:

  • A physical examination
  • Blood work, including testing for infectious diseases
  • A psychological examination
  • A medical and obstetric history review
  • An ultrasound (to evaluate the ability of the potential surrogate to carry a pregnancy)
  • Medical clearance from an obstetrician (ideally an expert in maternal-fetal medicine)
  • A comprehensive questionnaire

Again, surrogacy is a pretty complicated and delicate issue, so you need to take all precautions to do it successfully.

One of the main obstacles prospective surrogates face when trying to go on a surrogacy journey process is Body Mass Index (BMI). If you have done some research about becoming a surrogacy, you will notice that it is much talked about, but what does BMI mean, and why is it so important?

What is BMI?

Short for body-mass index, BMI is a measure of the amount of fat a person has. It is calculated using the individual’s weight and height. There are many online BMI calculators that you can use to determine your BMI if you are yet to know it.

Note that BMI does not directly measure a person’s amount of body fat, but it is associated with direct measures of body fat composition and obesity-linked illnesses. To put it another way, BMI gives you an idea of a person’s weight and how it may impact their entire health.

If Your BMI Is…

  • Below 18.5 means you are underweight
  • 18.5 to 24.9 means you have a healthy weight
  • 25 to 29.9 means you are regarded as overweight
  • 30 and above means you are obese

Why A Healthy BMI is So Important For Surrogacy?

BMI regulations are set for surrogacy to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the process, including the surrogate moms, intended parents, and the resulting baby(ies).

Any woman looking to become a surrogate needs to have a healthy BMI before she can be allowed to carry a baby for another couple or individual. Although weight is not the only determinant of good health, it is crucial to ensure a safe, successful pregnancy.

Before opting for surrogacy, a lot of intended parents have already had difficulty conceiving or having a successful pregnancy. Therefore, having a baby through a surrogate can be an emotionally and financially taxing journey. For many couples and individuals, surrogacy is usually the final option to become parents, and everybody involved will want to reduce the risks of complications. And one way to minimize possible risks during pregnancy and childbirth is to ensure the optimal health of the surrogate.

Even though body fat is essential for conception, having too little or too much body can negatively impact your ability to get pregnant.

During a surrogate pregnancy, the physicians want to lower potential risks and raise the odds of having a healthy surrogate and healthy child. When the surrogate’s BMI is above the normal range, it can result in a more complicated pregnancy and delivery.

A surrogate’s BMI is a good predictor of possible risks, complications, and health issues she is likely to experience during the surrogacy process, and considering the delicate nature of gestational surrogacy, it is essential to reduce these risks as much as possible.

Surrogacy agencies usually set their BMI requirements between the ranges of 19 to 32. This often rules out the majority of women who are medically obese or underweight – both of which make it dangerous to carry a pregnancy.

If You Have A Higher Than Normal BMI…

  1. It will take you longer to conceive. The time to pregnancy is usually double or even higher for women who have a BMI of 35 or above.
  2. You are also more likely to have gestational diabetes. While any woman can develop gestational diabetes, the risks are two to three times higher in women with a BMI above 30.
  3. You are also more likely to have hypertension (high blood pressure). Women whose BMI is above 30 are more likely to find it difficult to control their blood pressure during pregnancy.
  4. You have a higher risk of preeclampsia. Women who have a BMI of 35 are twice more likely to develop preeclampsia during pregnancy than those with a BMI of 25.
  5. The child may have many complications. The BMI of the surrogate mother has also been associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, high birth weight, and congenital disabilities.
  6. You may have a more difficult labor. Surrogates who are overweight tend to spend longer time in labor. Because of the baby’s larger size, a Caesarian section may also be necessary, and the surrogate is more likely to have hemorrhage or have anesthesia complications.

Other issues that may result due to a surrogate’s BMI include blood clotting problems, infections during pregnancy, and obstructive sleep apnea.

Research has indicated that being obese can lower the odds of a successful IVF cycle. Scientists have also found a link between BMI and lower fertility in women, often due to ovulation issues. A high BMI can also reduce the success chances of fertility treatments like IVF while increasing the risk of miscarriage.

If you are overweight or obese, you may also respond poorly to fertility treatment. Higher body weight has been found to lower your body’s response to the drugs used to stimulate ovulation, which is a huge problem for a gestational carrier.

Take Away

BMI is a crucial indicator of  your health and given the delicate nature of surrogacy process, the surrogate mother should have a healthy BMI. After all, this is the process of bringing a new life into this world. A lot of hope hangs on the success of the surrogacy journey. Unfortunately, many women get rejected from becoming a surrogate due to their BMI status.

BioIntelligent Wellness recognized that these women would be amazing surrogates if only they could get their BMI under healthy range. That is why we launched the Surrogacy BMI Management program where we offer customized nutrition for the would-be surrogates. The program has already shown remarkable success multiple times.

If you are a woman who wants to be a surrogate but have higher BMI or a surrogacy agency who is looking for expert assistance on keeping your surrogate’s BMI in check, our program would definitely help you. Simply schedule a complimentary consultation with us to learn more about the program.

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