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Bringing a new child into the world is the ultimate goal of gestational surrogacy. This incredible gift, made possible by selfless surrogate mothers, allows intended parents to build the family of their dreams. 

But how does the surrogate mother actually get pregnant? What does that part of the surrogacy process look like? In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know, from egg retrieval to embryo transfer. We’ll also discuss pregnancy tests following the procedure and how to increase the surrogate’s chances of getting pregnant.   

What Are The Steps To The Surrogate Pregnancy Process? 

Let’s go all the way to the beginning of the assisted reproduction process, including what the intended parents have to do in order for the surrogate to become pregnant. 

1. Ovulation Induction

First, the intended mother needs to go through an ovulation induction. This is the process of stimulating the development and growth of multiple viable eggs that can then be used during in vitro fertilization (IVF). To achieve this, either the intended mother or the egg donor takes fertility hormones as a way to induce ovulation. 

2. Sperm Collection

Then sperm is collected via manual stimulation in a laboratory, either from the intended father or from a sperm donor. In order to collect a large enough sample, they’re usually instructed to abstain from sexual activity for 2 to 5 days prior to retrieval. 

3. Egg Retrieval

The doctor will then collect the egg. Also known as oocyte retrieval or harvesting the eggs, this is the process of extracting multiple viable eggs from the intended mother or the egg donor. These eggs are then combined with the sperm that was collected from the intended father or sperm donor.

This is usually done via transvaginal ultrasound aspiration, an incredibly safe and effective procedure. It can be painful, however, so the physicians will control this with the use of medications.

4. Fertilization

Finally, the egg will get fertilized through an IVF procedure. The retrieved sperm sample and harvested eggs are combined and placed in an incubator to induce fertilization. 

Once the egg (or multiple eggs) are fertilized, they’re left in the incubator for about 2 to 5 days to make sure they’re stable and viable for the implantation process. This period of time is also known as the embryo culture. 

5. Hormone Treatment

Before the embryo transfer is performed, the surrogate mother must take hormones to prepare her womb. These medications will thicken the uterine lining and make it receptive and nourishing for the implanted eggs. For a successful embryo transfer, the ideal uterine wall thickness is at least 7 to 8 millimeters.

6. Embryo Transfer

This is the big moment, the most exciting part of the process. This is when the surrogate will hopefully get pregnant. 

Using a special syringe, the doctor will insert the fertilized egg or eggs into the surrogate mother’s womb. She should then rest for several hours to increase the chances of the fertilized eggs fully implanting themselves into the uterine lining. Once that implantation occurs, the embryo grows, fetal cells develop, and the body releases the hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

Nine months later you have a beautiful baby! 

Due to advances in assisted reproduction technology, these embryos can either be transferred directly from the incubator or after being defrosted in storage.  

It’s important to note that these steps are sometimes collectively referred to as an IVF cycle. If the embryo transfer doesn’t work, it’s possible to restart this cycle and try again. In some situations, it’s necessary to do a couple cycles before the surrogate gets pregnant. 

RELATED ARTICLE: How Does The Surrogacy Process Work?

How Soon After Embryo Transfer Does The Surrogate Get Pregnant?

It usually takes anywhere from 7 to 12 days for the surrogate to actually get pregnant. Once this happens, hCG levels in the body skyrocket and it then becomes possible to detect the pregnancy.  

To get the most accurate results possible, home pregnancy tests are not recommended. Instead, the fertility clinic will:  

  • Schedule a blood test (known as a beta pregnancy test) about 7 to 9 days after the embryo transfer. 
  • If the results are positive, another blood test to confirm will be scheduled 2 to 7 days later. 

 

Unfortunately, there are certain conditions that can make it extremely difficult for the surrogate to get pregnant, some of which can even cause immediate disqualification. 

RELATED ARTICLE: What Can Disqualify Me From Being A Surrogate? 

What Are The Signs Of A Successful Embryo Transfer? 

If the surrogate hasn’t confirmed the pregnancy yet, there are still signs that she can look out for: 

  • Sensitive breasts
  • Cramps
  • Constipation
  • Mood swings
  • Bloating
  • Sinus congestion
  • Nose bleed
  • Sense of taste changes
  • Spotting (also known as implantation bleeding)

 

If you’re not sure how to tell the difference between spotting and a regular period, it’s actually pretty easy to differentiate the two. Spotting is always shorter and less intense than menstruation; plus, the blood is lighter in color and will not clot or congeal. 

How To Increase The Chances Of A Successful Embryo Transfer

newborn baby

There are things you can do to increase the likelihood of the surrogate getting pregnant, including: 

  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet. This should be the same diet that the surrogate eats during the pregnancy: plenty of fruits, vegetables, fiber, complex carbs, and protein with low levels of saturated fat. 
  • Maintain a good intake of vitamins and minerals. Iron, folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, DHA, and iodine are the 6 most important. If you’re vegan or have dietary restrictions, be sure to tell your doctor or dietician so they can prescribe supplements. 
  • Avoid high-risk foods. These are the same foods you should avoid during pregnancy, including unpasteurized cheeses and fish with high levels of metals. 
  • Stay hydrated. Make sure it’s at least 2 liters a day.
  • Avoid strenuous activity or exercise. However, total bed rest is not recommended either. 
  • Watch your core temperature. Avoid very hot baths, saunas, steam rooms, or working out in the sun. 
  • Abstain from vaginal intercourse. This should be for about 2 weeks after the embryo transfer since it can trigger uterine contractions. 

 

Here at Surrogacy By Faith, we offer our surrogates a 30-day body cleanse before transfer to help them be as healthy as possible before transfer.

Surrogacy is more than just a business for us – it’s a mission. We always take the time to find the right surrogate for the intended parents so that it’s a match made in heaven. We want to give people the ability to start their perfect family because we believe each child is a precious gift from God. 

If you’re interested, you can fill out our Intended Parents Initial Inquiry Form or our Surrogate Initial Inquiry Form. Don’t wait another day!