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ivf gestational surrogacy

The in vitro fertilization (IVF) process as a gestational surrogate

March 15, 2021

Please‌ ‌be‌ ‌sure‌ ‌to‌ ‌keep‌ ‌your surrogacy agency and coordinator in the loop as you prepare medically for your IVF journey so we‌ ‌can‌ ‌continue‌ ‌to‌ ‌support‌ ‌you‌ ‌every‌ ‌step‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌way.‌ ‌

When it's time to begin in vitro fertilization, here's what you can expect!  

Preparing for your IVF cycle as a surrogate

At‌ ‌the‌ ‌beginning‌ ‌of‌ ‌your‌ ‌IVF‌ ‌cycle,‌ ‌surrogates will ‌receive‌ ‌a‌ ‌shipment‌ ‌containing‌ ‌your‌ ‌IVF‌ ‌calendar‌ ‌and‌ ‌medications.‌ ‌This‌ ‌IVF‌ ‌calendar‌ ‌will‌ ‌cover‌ ‌everything‌ ‌you‌ ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌know‌ ‌about‌ ‌the‌ ‌following:‌ ‌

  • Medication‌ ‌instructions‌ ‌
  • When‌ ‌to‌ ‌schedule‌ ‌cycle‌ ‌monitoring‌ ‌appointments‌ ‌
  • Your ‌tentative‌ ‌embryo‌ ‌transfer‌ ‌date‌ 

When‌ ‌you‌ ‌receive‌ ‌your‌ ‌shipment‌ ‌of‌ ‌IVF‌ ‌medications,‌ ‌make‌ ‌sure‌ ‌you‌ ‌have‌ ‌everything‌ ‌you‌ ‌need.‌ Check ‌the‌ ‌medications‌ ‌you’ve‌ ‌received‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌packing‌ ‌slip‌ ‌and‌ ‌your‌ ‌IVF‌ ‌calendar.‌ ‌If‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌unsure‌ ‌or‌ ‌have‌ ‌questions,‌ ‌please‌ ‌let‌ ‌your‌ ‌clinical‌ ‌coordinator‌ ‌at‌ ‌your‌ ‌IVF‌ ‌clinic‌ ‌and‌ ‌your‌ ‌coordinator‌ ‌at‌ ‌Hatch‌ ‌know‌ ‌as‌ ‌soon‌ ‌as‌ ‌possible.‌ ‌

Here's an example of your IVF calendar. Note that medications and timing will be tailored to your unique treatment plan: 

frozen embryo transfer calendar example

As a gestational surrogate, you'll also need to continue checking ‌your‌ ‌medication‌ ‌supply‌ ‌weekly‌ ‌to‌ ‌ensure‌ ‌that‌ ‌you‌ ‌always‌ ‌have‌ ‌enough‌ ‌medication‌ ‌and‌ ‌unopened‌ ‌backups‌ ‌of‌ ‌medication‌ ‌that‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌continued‌ ‌after‌ ‌the‌ ‌embryo‌ ‌transfer‌ ‌takes‌ ‌place.‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

With‌ ‌IVF,‌ ‌a‌ ‌lot‌ ‌of‌ ‌shots‌ ‌are‌ ‌generally‌ ‌required‌‌,‌ ‌primarily‌ ‌progesterone‌ ‌and‌ ‌estrogen. With‌ ‌a‌ ‌surrogate‌ ‌pregnancy,‌ ‌these‌ ‌hormones‌ ‌are‌ ‌necessary‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌successful‌ ‌pregnancy,‌ ‌and‌ ‌also‌ ‌critical‌ ‌to‌ ‌sustain‌ ‌the‌ ‌pregnancy‌ ‌until‌ ‌a‌ ‌certain‌ ‌point‌ ‌in‌ ‌time‌  ‌when‌ ‌the‌ ‌doctors‌ ‌will‌ ‌instruct‌ ‌you‌ ‌to‌ ‌start‌ ‌weaning‌ ‌off‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌medications.‌‌ ‌Missing‌ ‌any‌ ‌medications‌ ‌can‌ ‌affect‌ ‌the‌ ‌outcome‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌cycle‌ ‌and‌ ‌surrogacy pregnancy.‌ ‌ ‌

IVF‌ ‌cycle‌ ‌monitoring‌ ‌ ‌

Every‌ ‌time‌ ‌you‌ ‌go‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌IVF‌ ‌doctor‌ ‌and/or‌ ‌the‌ ‌monitoring‌ ‌clinic‌ ‌(if‌ ‌your‌ ‌IVF‌ ‌clinic‌ ‌is‌ ‌very‌ ‌far‌ ‌from‌ ‌your‌ ‌home)‌ ‌you‌ ‌will‌ ‌likely‌ ‌have‌ ‌a‌ ‌vaginal‌ ‌ultrasound‌ ‌and‌ ‌they‌ ‌will‌ ‌draw‌ ‌your‌ ‌blood‌ ‌to‌ ‌test‌ ‌your‌ ‌hormone‌ ‌levels.‌ ‌There‌ ‌are‌ ‌typically‌ ‌3-5‌ ‌visits‌ ‌in‌ ‌total.‌ ‌ 

Preparing for the embryo transfer

If‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌preparing‌ ‌for‌ ‌your‌ ‌first‌ ‌embryo‌ ‌transfer as a surrogate,‌ ‌don’t‌ ‌worry‌ ‌--‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌in‌ ‌the most experienced‌ ‌hands.‌ ‌The‌ ‌embryo‌ ‌transfer‌ ‌will‌ ‌occur‌ ‌three‌ ‌to‌ ‌five‌ ‌days‌ ‌after‌ ‌the intended mothers' or donors' ‌egg‌ ‌retrieval,‌ ‌or‌ ‌longer‌ ‌if‌ ‌the intended parents are‌ ‌using‌ ‌frozen‌ ‌embryos.‌ ‌ ‌

As‌ ‌you‌ ‌prepare‌ ‌for‌ ‌your‌ ‌embryo‌ ‌transfer,‌ ‌make‌ ‌sure‌ ‌you:‌ ‌ ‌

  • Organize‌ ‌and‌ ‌take‌ ‌your‌ ‌medications‌ ‌routinely.‌ ‌Ask‌ ‌your‌ ‌doctor‌ ‌if‌ ‌you‌ ‌should‌ ‌take‌ ‌over-the-counter‌ ‌medications‌ ‌and‌ ‌supplements,‌ ‌like‌ ‌Vitamin‌ ‌D.‌ 
  • Stock‌ ‌up‌ ‌on‌ ‌self-care‌ ‌and‌ ‌entertainment‌ ‌(but‌ ‌avoid‌ ‌chemicals!).‌ ‌ ‌
  • Consider‌ ‌holistic‌ ‌therapies.‌ ‌Acupuncture,‌ ‌yoga,‌ ‌and‌ ‌massages‌ ‌can‌ ‌improve‌ ‌pregnancy‌ ‌rates‌ ‌by‌ ‌up‌ ‌to‌ ‌65%‌ ‌in‌ ‌women‌ ‌undergoing‌ ‌IVF‌ ‌treatments.‌ ‌ ‌
  • Get‌ ‌plenty‌ ‌of‌ ‌rest‌ ‌and‌ ‌relaxation‌ ‌before‌ ‌and‌ ‌after.‌ ‌Give‌ ‌your‌ ‌body‌ ‌downtime,‌ ‌and‌ ‌ ‌
  • Avoid‌ ‌extreme‌ ‌temperatures‌ ‌against‌ ‌your‌ ‌abdomen‌ ‌and‌ ‌uterus.‌ ‌This‌ ‌can‌ ‌deregulate‌ ‌your‌ ‌reproductive‌ ‌system‌ ‌and‌ ‌impact‌ ‌your‌ ‌embryo‌ ‌transfer’s‌ ‌success.‌ ‌ ‌
  • Eat‌ ‌a‌ ‌high-fat,‌ ‌low-carb‌ ‌diet‌ ‌to‌ ‌reduce‌ ‌inflammation‌ ‌throughout‌ ‌your‌ ‌body,‌ ‌G.I.‌ ‌tract,‌ ‌and‌ ‌reproductive‌ ‌system.‌ ‌
  • Avoid‌ ‌chemical‌ ‌products‌ ‌found‌ ‌in‌ ‌nail‌ ‌polish,‌ ‌some‌ ‌shampoos,‌ ‌cleaning‌ ‌supplies,‌ ‌and‌ more.‌ ‌ ‌
  • Plan‌ ‌ahead‌ ‌the‌ ‌day‌ ‌before‌ ‌your‌ ‌transfer‌ ‌procedure‌ ‌by‌ ‌packing‌ ‌a‌ ‌bag,‌ ‌picking‌ ‌what‌ ‌time‌ ‌to‌ ‌leave,‌ ‌and‌ ‌anything else you might need. 
  • Come‌ ‌with‌ ‌a‌ ‌full‌ ‌bladder.‌ ‌Drink‌ ‌plenty‌ ‌of‌ ‌water‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌ultrasound-guided‌ ‌transfer!‌ ‌ ‌

For‌ ‌more‌ ‌specific‌ ‌information‌ ‌about‌ ‌how‌ ‌to‌ ‌best‌ ‌prepare‌ ‌for‌ ‌your‌ ‌embryo‌ ‌transfer,‌ ‌talk‌ ‌to‌ ‌your‌ ‌reproductive‌ ‌endocrinologist.‌ ‌

‌While‌ ‌doing‌ ‌the‌ ‌above‌ ‌cannot‌ ‌ensure‌ ‌you‌ ‌a‌ ‌successful‌ ‌conception‌ ‌and‌ ‌pregnancy,‌ ‌have‌ ‌faith‌ ‌and‌ ‌trust‌ ‌in‌ ‌your‌ ‌fertility‌ ‌doctors.‌ ‌You’re‌ ‌in‌ ‌capable,‌ ‌experienced‌ ‌hands,‌ ‌and‌ ‌it’s‌ ‌important‌ ‌to‌ ‌have‌ ‌trust‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌process!‌ ‌

The‌ ‌embryo‌ ‌transfer‌ ‌procedure

When‌ ‌your‌ ‌body‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌embryo‌ ‌are‌ ‌ready‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌embryo‌ ‌transfer,‌ ‌you'll undergo ‌a‌ ‌very‌ ‌simple‌ ‌procedure‌ ‌without‌ ‌anesthesia.‌ ‌The‌ ‌embryos‌ ‌are‌ ‌microscopic,‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌transfer‌ ‌uses‌ ‌a‌ ‌speculum‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ guided‌ ‌vaginal‌ ‌ultrasound‌ ‌to‌ ‌guide‌ ‌the‌ ‌catheter‌ ‌to‌ ‌implant‌ ‌the‌ ‌embryos. 

embryo-transfer-procedure

After‌ ‌the‌ ‌procedure,‌ ‌you'll ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌rest‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌doctor’s‌ ‌office‌ ‌for‌ ‌about‌ ‌20‌ ‌minutes.‌ ‌When‌ ‌you‌ ‌leave,‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌advised‌ ‌to‌ ‌continue‌ ‌bed rest‌ ‌at‌ ‌home‌ ‌or‌ ‌at‌ ‌a‌ ‌nearby‌ ‌hotel,‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌how‌ ‌far‌ ‌away‌ ‌you‌ ‌reside.‌ ‌ ‌

The‌ ‌bedrest‌ ‌following‌ ‌the‌ ‌embryo‌ ‌transfer‌ ‌is‌ ‌one‌ ‌to‌ ‌three‌ ‌days,‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌doctor’s‌ ‌protocol.‌ ‌Your‌ ‌partner‌ ‌is‌ ‌welcome‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌transfer.‌ ‌After‌ ‌the‌ ‌transfer,‌ ‌it’s‌ ‌important‌ ‌to‌ ‌keep‌ ‌your‌ ‌activities‌ ‌quiet‌ ‌and‌ ‌light‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌implantation.‌ ‌ ‌

For surrogates outside of California, you may need to travel for the embryo transfer. If this is the case, your travel expenses will be fully covered by the intended parents and you'll receive allowances for your stay. 

After‌ ‌the ‌embryo‌ ‌transfer‌ ‌

Your‌ ‌fertility‌ ‌clinic‌ ‌will‌ ‌always‌ ‌offer‌ ‌you‌ ‌detailed‌ ‌instructions‌ ‌after‌ ‌appointments,‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌goal‌ ‌of‌ making‌ ‌you‌ ‌feel‌ ‌comfortable‌ ‌and‌ ‌confident‌ ‌that‌ ‌you‌ ‌are‌ ‌taking‌ ‌care‌ ‌of‌ ‌yourself‌ ‌during‌ ‌the‌ ‌days‌ leading‌ ‌up‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌post-embryo‌ ‌transfer‌ ‌pregnancy‌ ‌test.‌ 

Some‌ ‌doctors‌ ‌recommend‌ ‌24-hour‌ ‌bed‌ ‌rest‌ ‌post-procedure,‌ ‌while‌ ‌other‌ ‌sources‌ ‌recommend‌ ‌relying‌ ‌on‌ ‌low-impact‌ ‌movement‌ ‌to‌ ‌cause‌ ‌blood‌ ‌flow‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌uterus‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌hopes‌ ‌of‌ ‌increasing‌ ‌the‌ ‌chance‌ ‌of‌ ‌pregnancy.‌ ‌However,‌ ‌it’s‌ ‌important‌ ‌to‌ ‌strenuous‌ ‌exercise,‌ ‌sex,‌ ‌or‌ ‌taking‌ ‌baths.‌ 

‌Maintain‌ ‌a‌ ‌positive‌ ‌outlook‌ ‌on‌ ‌your‌ ‌embryo‌ ‌transfer‌ ‌procedure,‌ ‌and‌ ‌behave‌ ‌as‌ ‌if‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌pregnant‌ ‌--‌ ‌food‌ ‌and‌ ‌all!‌ ‌ 

2-week-wait: Blood‌ ‌pregnancy‌ ‌test‌ 

Although‌ ‌it’s‌ ‌tempting‌ ‌to‌ ‌take‌ ‌a‌ ‌pregnancy‌ ‌test‌ ‌a‌ ‌few‌ ‌days‌ ‌after‌ ‌your‌ ‌embryo‌ ‌transfer,‌ ‌try‌ ‌to‌ ‌abstain‌ ‌--‌ ‌fertility‌ ‌clinics‌ ‌strongly‌ ‌recommend‌ ‌you‌ ‌wait‌ ‌the‌ ‌typical‌ ‌two-week‌ ‌period‌ ‌to‌ ‌ensure‌ ‌that‌ ‌you‌ ‌receive‌ ‌accurate‌ ‌results‌ ‌and‌ ‌can‌ ‌manage‌ ‌the‌ ‌emotions‌ ‌that‌ ‌are‌ ‌normal‌ ‌during‌ ‌this‌ ‌process.‌ ‌

Clinics‌ ‌recommend‌ ‌a‌ ‌two-week‌ ‌wait‌ ‌because‌ ‌taking‌ ‌a‌ ‌pregnancy‌ ‌test‌ ‌too‌ ‌soon‌ ‌after‌ ‌the‌ ‌embryo‌ transfer‌ ‌often‌ ‌produces‌ ‌false‌ ‌results.‌ ‌This‌ ‌happens‌ ‌because‌ ‌the‌ ‌hormone‌ ‌used‌ ‌to‌ ‌measure‌  pregnancy‌ ‌within‌ ‌a‌ ‌pregnancy‌ ‌test,‌ ‌referred‌ ‌to‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌hCG‌,‌ ‌can‌ ‌vary‌ ‌in‌ ‌levels‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌your‌  current‌ ‌phase‌ ‌within‌ ‌your‌ ‌fertility‌ ‌journey.‌ ‌For‌ ‌instance,‌ ‌very‌ ‌early‌ ‌pregnancy‌ ‌often‌ ‌doesn’t‌ ‌result‌ ‌in‌ ‌much‌ ‌natural‌ ‌hCG‌ ‌production,‌ ‌causing‌ ‌you‌ ‌to‌ ‌get‌ ‌a‌ ‌distressing‌ ‌false-negative‌ ‌result.‌ ‌

Once‌ ‌your‌ ‌two‌ ‌weeks‌ ‌have‌ ‌passed,‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌take‌ ‌your‌ ‌first‌ ‌pregnancy‌ ‌test‌ ‌after‌ ‌the‌ ‌embryo‌ transfer.‌ ‌To‌ ‌get‌ ‌a‌ ‌more‌ ‌accurate‌ ‌reading,‌ ‌your‌ ‌fertility‌ ‌clinic‌ ‌will‌ ‌book‌ ‌an‌ ‌appointment‌ ‌two‌ ‌weeks‌ after‌ ‌the‌ ‌transfer‌ ‌to‌ ‌perform‌ ‌a‌ ‌blood‌ ‌test‌ ‌to‌ ‌determine‌ ‌the‌ ‌pregnancy‌ ‌result.‌ ‌

Learn more about the journey of surrogacy 

Surrogates are the women who make intended parents' dreams of family a reality, and we cherish your willingness to give the gift of life. The decision to become a surrogate is a major one, and we want to help you feel prepared and knowledgeable as you embark on this journey. 

Learn about our surrogate qualifications, how you'll be matched with intended parents, and your compensation along this exciting time. Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have throughout this time! 

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