Receive up to $80,000 in compensation
For those struggling with infertility or who otherwise cannot carry a pregnancy on their own, a gestational carrier (GC) can help their dreams of parenthood become reality. A gestational carrier (GC) is a woman who carries a pregnancy using the intended parents’ egg and sperm (or donors’), which are combined in the lab via in vitro fertilization (IVF) with a resulting embryo implanted into the GC’s womb.
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What are the physical requirements to become a gestational carrier (surrogate) at Ember?
- 21 – 40 years old.
- BMI (body mass index) less than 32 (calculate your BMI).
- Previous pregnancies delivered at full term.
- Nonsmoker and drug free.
- Ability to pass a psychological evaluation and medical screening.
What is the difference between a gestational carrier and a traditional surrogate?
Often “surrogate” and “gestational carrier” are used interchangeably, but a gestational carrier is the standard and preferred method of surrogacy. Here are the key differences between the two:
Gestational carrier surrogacy is a form of third-party reproduction in which a consenting individual carries a pregnancy for the intended parent(s). The GC becomes pregnant through IVF with embryos created using the intended mother’s egg and the intended father’s sperm (or donor egg/sperm but not the GC’s own eggs). The GC carries the pregnancy to term (gestation) and gives birth to a baby for the intended parent(s).
All Ember Fertility Center’s surrogates are gestational carriers.
A traditional surrogate conceives using the sperm from the intended father (or a sperm donor) to fertilize her own eggs, generally through intrauterine insemination (IUI) or IVF. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is biologically related to the child, but the intended mother is not genetically related to the child. This method is rarely utilized in current fertility treatment.
Is a gestational carrier surrogate related to the baby at all?
No. Because the genetic cells that make up the embryo (the egg and sperm) are from the intended parents (or from a donor that is not the gestational carrier), the resulting baby will not be related to the surrogate. See the section above.
Whose name will be on the birth certificate?
Even when using a gestational carrier, the intended parents’ names will be the only parental names on the birth certificate; the gestational carrier’s name will not appear on the certificate.
In the state of California, intended parents file a pre-birth order (PBO) instructing the hospital to put their names on the original birth certificate – meaning the child’s birth certificate will be the exact same as it would be if the child was delivered by the biological mother/parent. Ember guides our gestational carriers and intended parents through the procedure regardless of where the birth will take place.
How will I receive compensation payment for being a gestational carrier?
During the screening process, a gestational carrier (surrogate) will receive a customized package outlining all benefits she can expect as a gestational carrier, including payment. All compensation payments will be disbursed through a third-party escrow fund manager, who specializes in surrogacy. Payments are scheduled at key surrogacy process milestones, such as the start of medication, embryo transfer, etc.
Can I still be a gestational carrier if I’ve had a tubal ligation?
Yes. Having your “tubes tied” only affects the fallopian tubes and does not interfere with the uterus, where the pregnancy is carried. The fertilized embryo from the intended parents is implanted directly into the gestational carrier’s uterus. Because the gestational carrier’s eggs will not be used for the embryo, the fallopian tubes are not involved in a gestational carrier pregnancy.
Can I have an IUD?
Although IUDs, or intrauterine devices, are a method of birth control, Ember does not require IUDs to be removed prior to starting the IVF protocol. If the gestational carrier has an IUD in place, our physicians are able to transfer the embryo to the GC’s uterus for pregnancy without removing the IUD.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory?
What about other vaccines?
Vaccination for COVID-19 (initial shot or booster shot) is not mandatory for gestational carriers at Ember. However, we do require gestational carriers be up-to-date on vaccination for rubella, varicella and hepatitis B before embryo transfer.
Do I have to stop breastfeeding before I start the surrogacy process?
Yes. The medications a gestational carrier takes as she prepares for IVF can be passed to her own baby via breast milk.
I had a C-section in a previous pregnancy: Can I still be a gestational carrier?
Yes. A previous C-section does not disqualify a woman from being a gestational carrier.
Do the gestational carrier (surrogate) and biological mother have to have the same blood type?
No. Many mothers and their biological children have different blood types, and the gestational carrier’s blood type does not have to match the mother’s or father’s blood type to successfully carry the embryo and pregnancy.
However, doctors do evaluate the gestational carrier’s blood for the Rhesus (Rh) factor, which is the positive or negative sign next to the blood type (example: O-positive or O+). Positive Rh factor is preferred and also most common. Having a negative Rh factor blood type does not rule out a gestational carrier candidate, but it does require further evaluation.
As a gestational carrier, do I get to choose which family I’d like to work with?
Definitely. The gestational carrier and the intended parent(s) work as a team to deliver a healthy baby, so it’s important everyone involved feels they can work well together.
The prospective gestational carrier and the intended parent(s) will have an initial meeting (usually via an online video call) so both parties can ask questions, get to know each other, and see if there’s a positive mutual connection. If it’s a good fit for both parties, we will advise on the next steps.
What if I live outside California?
Will my travel expenses be covered?
Absolutely. Intended parents are responsible for covering all the gestational carrier’s travel expenses, including gas, parking, flight tickets and hotels. All covered travel expenses will be listed in your benefit package.
How will I know if I am medically cleared to be a surrogate?
The first step is reviewing your medical records, including previous pregnancy and delivery records. If everything looks ok, you will make an appointment with the doctor for further screening, which usually includes bloodwork and ultrasound. Approximately two weeks later, you will be notified if you are approved, conditionally approved or declined.
Is embryo transfer painful? Does it require bed rest?
The embryo transfer procedure involves using a catheter that contains the intended parents’ thawed embryo(s) to place the embryo into the gestational carrier’s uterine cavity through the cervix (opening to the womb). The embryo transfer may have minimal to no discomfort, and on occasion scant vaginal bleeding, but does not require anesthesia.
Usually Ember will recommend you rest in bed for one day after embryo transfer but no longer.
How can I make sure the embryo transferred to my uterus is free of communicable diseases?
Ember follows all FDA guidelines, and the FDA takes infectious disease control very seriously. It requires both the egg and sperm source to undergo infectious disease screening using the approved FDA criteria. Disease screening include hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, West Nile virus and cytomegalovirus (CMV).
In addition, we evaluate both the egg and sperm through a high-risk questionnaire and the Ember lab’s physical evaluation of the specimens. Tissue donors or intended parents who fail to pass the screening will be ineligible to use the tissue for creating a gestational carrier pregnancy.
How soon do I know if the embryo transfer is successful (confirm pregnancy)?
Approximately 10 days after the embryo transfer, Ember will have you do bloodwork to test for human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG); if it’s positive, it means you are pregnant. After another two to three weeks, the doctor will perform the first ultrasound in order to detect the fetus’ heartbeat. If a heartbeat is detected, it means it is a viable pregnancy and likely to lead to a live birth.
Do I get to see the baby after delivery?
Depends upon your gestational carrier agreement. This is one of the many things decided upon with the intended parents beforehand; the agreement should include discussion of contact right after birth and as the child grows up. Some intended parents prefer to keep in touch with the gestational carrier throughout the child’s life, while others may choose not to, especially if they live outside of the United States.
As a gestational carrier, do I need to breastfeed the newborn?
No – unless it’s requested by the intended parents and also agreed to by the gestational carrier, in which case both parties can work together to create a breastfeeding plan.
Will I potentially carry twins?
Typically no. Per today’s standards, most IVF doctors will transfer no more than one embryo during IVF (including for gestational carriers) due to the increased risk to the pregnant woman and the babies of carrying more than one baby during a pregnancy. While there are some unique situations in which a gestational carrier and the intended parent(s) may mutually agree to transfer multiple embryos (or rarely a single embryo develops into twins), the gestational carrier has the right to decline carrying twins. If she does carry twins, the intended parents would pay extra compensation.
Become a gestational carrier at Ember
Interested in learning more? Call 949-Mom-Baby (949-666-2229) and ask for Cindy.
What do I need to do in my first trimester as a gestational carrier?
Just like a typical pregnancy, you will need to take prenatal vitamins, visit your obstetrician (OB) physician, do routine bloodwork and ultrasounds, and, if needed, have a noninvasive prenatal testing for genetic abnormalities done at around 11 weeks.
Additionally, you will need to continue the estradiol and progesterone medications prescribed by the IVF doctor.
Will I and my family be protected if accidents happen during pregnancy?
Yes. The intended parents are required to purchase health insurance for the gestational carrier to cover all OB physician visits, hospital visits, medications and all related medical expenses. Life insurance coverage is also required.
Additionally, you will have an attorney assigned to you, paid for by the intended parents, to work with you on behalf of your interests.
Can I work during the surrogacy journey?
Yes. Most gestational carriers still go to work as normal, unless the doctor requires rest at home due to a potential risk or complication during pregnancy. If that is the case, the intended parents typically pay extra compensation to cover the loss of wages.