Are you interested in becoming a surrogate? It’s an amazing job that can only be done by the strongest, kindest, and most compassionate women. But it’s not for everyone, although most women who follow through with it swear that it’s a transformative experience that they forever cherish. Plus, they get to give the greatest gift of all: a newborn child to a grateful family.
However, in order to have a safe and healthy pregnancy, it’s necessary for the surrogate to meet certain physical and psychological requirements. This includes a healthy BMI, which is a basic measure of a person’s weight.
In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about BMI and surrogacy, including how to calculate your BMI, why it’s so important to a healthy pregnancy, and BMI requirements for most surrogacy agencies.
What Is BMI?
Let’s start with a basic definition of BMI, otherwise known as your body mass index. In simplest terms, it’s the measure of the relationship between a person’s weight (in kilograms) and their height (in meters). It’s a general metric for a person’s health as it relates to weight and is also an inexpensive, easy screening method for their weight category.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are six basic weight categories:
- Underweight – Below 18.5
- Normal weight – 18.5 to 24.9
- Overweight (pre-obesity) – 25 to 29.9
- Obesity class I – 30 to 34.9
- Obesity class II – 35.0 to 39.9
- Obesity class III – Above 40
As you can see from the list above, anything above a 30 is considered to be obese.
However, BMI does not measure body fat directly, but it is correlated with direct measures of body fat and obesity-related illnesses. In other words, it gives you a general idea of a person’s weight level and how it can potentially affect their overall health.
For instance, a high BMI usually indicates high body fatness, and high body fatness usually indicates higher levels of certain illnesses, including hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.
If you’d like to learn more about how to interpret your BMI, the CDC offers a great breakdown.
Why Is BMI Important For Surrogacy?
As we mentioned above, BMI is a pretty good indicator of a person’s overall health, especially as it relates to their weight. As a result, surrogacy agencies will require a potential surrogate to fall within a certain BMI range. This is to ensure that they’re as healthy as possible so that the pregnancy and delivery can have minimal complications.
First of all, being overweight increases the risk of complications for pregnant women and their babies. As the BMI gets higher, the risks get more pronounced. This can include a number of different conditions, including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, thrombosis, and a condition called preeclampsia. It has also been linked to an increased rate of cesarean sections (C-sections).
Additionally, a BMI that’s too low can also cause complications, including an increased risk in preterm delivery and the possibility of the baby developing a condition known as failure to thrive (FTT).
An unhealthy BMI can also make it harder to conceive. According to an influential study, if your BMI is:
- Above 35, it can take up two times longer to conceive.
- Below 19, it can take up to four times longer to conceive.
Ultimately, an unhealthy BMI can potentially disrupt the surrogacy process. This is significant because it’s already an emotional journey, and any complications can only make it harder for all parties involved.
RELATED ARTICLE: How Does A Surrogate Get Pregnant?
How Do I Calculate My BMI?
BMI is simply a person’s weight (measured in kilograms) divided by the square of their height (measured in meters).
If you want to calculate your BMI, then you can use these handy tools from the National Institute of Health (NIH):
- Calculate your BMI in standard (feet, inches, and pounds).
- Calculate your BMI in metric (centimeters and kilograms).
Please note that only the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar (Burma) use standard measurements – the rest of the world use the metric system. Make sure you pay extra attention to which calculator you’re using; if you input the wrong measurement units, then your BMI result will be way off!
What Are The BMI Requirements For Surrogates?
This will depend on the surrogacy agency, but most of them follow the basic guidelines set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). According to the ASRM, a potential surrogate must be in “good overall health” with a BMI between 19 and 33.
However, it’s always best to double check with the agency to confirm their specific BMI requirements for surrogacy. If you’re trying to find a suitable surrogacy agency, make sure you check out our blog post How To Find The Best Surrogacy Agency.
Can I Be A Surrogate With A High BMI?
Having a high BMI (or being “overweight”) does not necessarily disqualify you from being a surrogate. When you apply to become a surrogate, part of the process includes undergoing physical and psychological examinations. If the examining physician determines that you’re in excellent health, then it is possible that the surrogacy agency might make an exception in your case.
It’s important to remember that BMI gives just a general picture of a person’s health, so it’s hypothetically possible to become a surrogate if you have a slightly higher BMI. Of course, this will depend on the agency and will be ultimately up to their discretion.
RELATED ARTICLE: What Can Disqualify Me From Being A Surrogate?
What Are Some Other Requirements For Becoming A Surrogate?
Of course, BMI is not the only requirement for becoming a surrogate – there are plenty of others. Let’s take a moment to look at some of the standard requirements set by the ASRM.
If you want to become a surrogate, then you should:
- Be 21-40 years old.
- Have completed at least one successful and complication-free pregnancy.
- Not have more than five (5) previous deliveries.
- Not have more than three (3) previous C-sections.
- Have healthy blood pressure, kidneys, and heart.
- Have no new piercings or tattoos for one (1) year before the surrogacy.
- Not be a smoker and have no history of drug or alcohol abuse.
- Live in a safe environment.
- Not have HIV or STIs that could be passed on to the child.
- Be in good psychological and emotional health.
- Not take any antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications for one (1) year before the surrogacy.
- Be a legal permanent resident or US citizen.
Additionally, as we mentioned above, you’ll have to undergo a physical, psychological, and emotional screening to ensure that you’re prepared for the surrogacy.
It’s important to remember that pregnancy can be demanding, so it’s crucial that every surrogate is prepared for the challenge. This will ensure that both she and the baby stay healthy and happy, increasing the chances of a successful surrogacy and birth.
Are There BMI Requirements For Egg Donors?
Yes, there are. Egg donation is a critical part of the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process and – much like surrogacy and pregnancy – a healthy BMI can greatly decrease potential complications. As a result, egg donors should also fall within a certain BMI.
According to the ASRM, the ideal BMI for an egg donor is 30 or less. Again, this can vary from fertility clinic to fertility clinic, so it’s important to double check.
RELATED ARTICLE: How To Find A Surrogacy Clinic
What Are The BMI Requirements With Surrogacy By Faith?
Like every reputable surrogacy agency, Surrogacy By Faith also has BMI requirements for potential surrogates. According to our standards, every potential surrogate must be within a healthy and weight ratio, with a BMI of 29 or below.
As you can see, this is a bit stricter than the ASRM requirements, but it’s for a good reason: we’re particularly focused on making sure that every pregnancy is free of complications. This keeps the surrogate mother and the baby as healthy as possible, right up until the day of delivery.
However, we still require that every potential surrogate undergo a physical examination to ensure that she’s healthy enough to go through with the pregnancy. Again, we take extra care in fostering a safe and nurturing environment so that we have a healthy and happy baby at the end of the process!
If you’re interested in becoming a surrogate with us, make sure to fill out our Surrogate Initial Inquiry form right away!