10 Things for Surrogates to Avoid Eating While Pregnant

10 Things for Surrogates to Avoid Eating While Pregnant

For the health and development of their baby, it is absolutely critical that pregnant surrogates remain healthy, and an important part of that is to maintain a healthy diet.

But it’s not enough simply to know the best foods to eat during your pregnancy as a surrogate mother – some foods need to be avoided, too.

1. Completely avoid alcohol, which has been linked to premature delivery, mental retardation, birth defects and low birth-weight babies. Once you have been positively checked for pregnancy, avoid alcohol intake at all times.

2. Limit caffeine to no more than 300 mg per day. This amounts to about two eight-ounce cups of coffee (150 mg each), while a 12-ounce glass of caffeinated soda contains anywhere from 30 to 60 mg of caffeine. Don’t forget that chocolate contains caffeine – the amount in a typical chocolate bar is equal to about a ¼-cup of coffee.

3. The use of saccharin is strongly discouraged during pregnancy because it can cross the placenta and may remain in fetal tissues. But other non-nutritive, or artificial, sweeteners approved by the FDA are acceptable during pregnancy. These include aspartame (Equal or NutraSweet), acesulfame-K (Sunett), and sucralose (Splenda). These sweeteners are considered safe in moderation, so talk with your doctor about how much sweetener is acceptable during your pregnancy.

4. Fat intake should be limited – your daily intake should be decreased to no more than 30% of your total daily calories. For a woman eating 2,000 calories a day, this would be at most 65 grams of fat.

5. Cholesterol intake should be limited during pregnancy, to 300 mg or less per day. Research shows that excessive cholesterol levels in pregnant women can lead to premature births.

6. Mercury should be avoided while pregnant – avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish (aka white snapper), because they contain high levels of mercury. The small doses of mercury found on these fish can be toxic for your fetus, and may cause serious health problems.

7. Don’t eat unpasteurized cheeses. Soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, and Mexican-style are often unpasteurized and may cause Listeria infection. There’s no need to avoid hard cheese, processed cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese, or yogurt.

8. Avoid raw fish, especially shellfish like oysters, mussels, scallops and clams. Raw fish, including sushi and sashimi, and undercooked fin fish are more likely to contain parasites or bacteria than cooked fish. Parasites and bacteria are also very dangerous for the health of the baby.

9. Don’t eat raw or undercooked eggs and avoid foods that contain them, such as homemade mayonnaise. Make sure that any eggs you eat are thoroughly cooked, until the whites and yolks are solid. This prevents the risk of salmonella.

10. Don’t drink raw or unpasteurized milk, including unpasteurized goat’s or sheep’s milk. Avoid eating foods made from them, such as soft goat’s cheese. If only raw or green-top milk are available, you need to boil it first before drinking.


5 Unique Health Benefits of Being Pregnant

5 Unique Health Benefits of Being Pregnant

Believe it or not, a baby isn’t the only good thing you get out of childbearing – even if you’re a surrogate mother who doesn’t keep the baby, there are other significant health benefits to the experience. They include:

1. Many women have reported that they feel healthier than ever when they are expecting a baby because of the additional hormones surging through their bodies. These extra hormones not only encourage fetal development, but also have an effect on your well-being – they can actually improve your health during and after pregnancy. Many women say they feel meaningfully better as a result of these increased hormones.

2. Research shows that childbirth and breastfeeding offer their own healthy benefits. Women who have given birth, and breastfed, are less prone to cervical and breast cancer. Ovarian and cervical cancer risks are also reduced in women who have given birth.

3. A very substantial number of pregnant women have noticed a boost to their immune system, relative to before their pregnancy. Many women have reported fewer asthma attacks during pregnancy, and some women with multiple sclerosis experience a decline in symptoms during the last three months of pregnancy. There is no clear medical explanation for the decline in these symptoms, but research is currently under way to examine this relationship between pregnancy and the immune system.

4. Pregnancy can provide a glowing “moisturizer” for dry skin, or a stimulant that causes thin hair to take on glossy volume. A lot of women have noticed a certain “glow” on their skin, and stronger formation of hair and nails. Some pregnant women even report an improvement in their skin-related disease symptoms – for example, a temporary break from symptoms of psoriasis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

5. Many women have reported an increase in their psychological well-being during their pregnancy. Working mothers especially reported that despite their fatigue, their pregnancy was one the calmest and healthiest times of their lives. The excitement of looking forward to a new baby increased their overall mood.

These benefits are a large part of why most surrogate mothers consider pregnancy a very positive experience in itself. The boost to their immune systems, the reduced symptoms to certain diseases and the ‘pregnancy glow’ are unique and very, very enjoyable benefits to pregnancy.


6 Healthy Eating Tips For Surrogates To Eliminate Pregnancy Side-Effects

6 Healthy Eating Tips For Surrogates To Eliminate Pregnancy Side-Effects

Digestion-related side-effects are very common during the first trimester of your surrogate pregnancy. During this period, it’s especially important for surrogate mothers to eat healthy. You may experience a loss of appetite, find it hard to keep food down, or possibly feel too sick and tired to eat at all – but you need to anyway.

To help cope with some of this discomfort, some useful tips are:

1. When you have morning sickness, it is advisable to eat crackers, cereal, or pretzels before getting out of bed. Remember to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day and avoid fatty, fried, and greasy foods. You can also try a wet/dry diet – this means taking your food and your drink separately, usually about 30 minutes apart. Cold foods are also advisable, since the strong smell of foods cooking can sometimes trigger unpleasant feelings.

2. If you feel constipated, more fresh fruit and vegetables are a good idea. It’s also highly advisable to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day to help with the constipation.

Fiber is also important; when pregnant, you need about 28 grams a day of it. Good sources include whole grains, fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes.

3. When you have diarrhea, it is best to eat more foods that contain pectin and gums, two types of fiber. This will help absorb excess water. Some good foods in this regard are applesauce, bananas, white rice, oatmeal, and refined wheat bread.

4. When you get heartburn, it’s better to eat more small meals throughout the day, as opposed to a few large ones. Some doctors recommend drinking pasteurized milk before eating and limiting caffeinated foods and beverages, citric beverages and spicy foods. You also need to avoid mint, peppermint, spearmint and chocolate because these foods can trigger heartburn. Taking a short walk after each meal can also help to ward off heartburn.

5. When you feel tired and fatigued, you may want to prepare meals when you have more energy; store them for later use when your energy levels are low. It’s important to get plenty of sleep, and naps during the day if necessary, to help cope with the fatigue. Prenatal vitamins, and mineral supplements containing iron, can also help. Remember to ask your doctor first before taking any medications or vitamins.

6. When you have no appetite, eating smaller, more frequent meals can help you avoid feeling too full or bloated. It is also a good idea to drink your calories; milk or yogurt smoothies can be a good idea, with bananas or frozen berries added in for extra protein. Calorie-dense foods can also help – you don’t need to eat a lot to get your nutrients. Snack on unsalted nuts and seeds, cheese, dried fruits, avocado, nut butters and omega-3 rich fish like salmon.


Seven Ways to Reduce Swelling During A Surrogate Pregnancy

While pregnancy is generally a wonderful experience, some surrogate mothers do unfortunately endure certain discomforts in the process. Edema is one of the most common of these; it’s characterized by the accumulation of fluids in the body, especially the legs and ankles, which in turn causes swelling.

It’s estimated that about 75% of women will experience this at some point. Here are some tips for dealing with it.

1. Rest. In warm weather, when you’ve been standing for a while, or just at the end of the day, you might notice that your feet might feel tight. Your shoes may not fit, or there may be just a general puffiness.

In general, this is nothing to worry about. Most women report their swelling subsiding after a good night’s rest, or just some time spent lying down.

2. Drink water. If you’d like to take a more active approach in treating edema, there are a couple of things you can do to help relieve the symptoms. The first, and probably one of the best, is to drink a lot of water.

While it doesn’t seem like it makes sense to get rid of fluids by taking in more, the extra fluids will help flush your system of the waste products that may have increased swelling.

Really, while pregnant, you need to drink 64 oz of water per day. One good way to accomplish this is to fill up a container of that size – carry it around and make sure you’ve emptied it by the end of the day.

3. Watch your salt intake. Many people believe that swelling is caused by excessive amounts of salt in the diet, but it can also be harmful to have too little. Moderation is the key to balance.

4. Try hydrotherapy. One recent study suggests that water immersion and water aerobics can help with swelling. It helps the body shed the excess fluids through the kidneys, while supporting the pregnant uterus.

5. Don’t wear elastic topped socks or knee-high pantyhose. Wearing restrictive clothing around the legs/ankles can trigger swelling.

6. Wear comfortable shoes; slip-on types work best. Wearing proper footwear during pregnancy is very important to help ward off swelling.

7. Put your feet up when possible. If you stand at work, try to move around slightly or get a stool to prop your feet up.

Swelling of the legs, ankles and feet are normal in pregnancy. However, swelling of the hands and face are not normal – if this happens, and it sometimes does, consult with your doctor.

With the proper know-how, though, most swelling can easily be managed. It may still be somewhat uncomfortable – but that discomfort can be reduced significantly, making your surrogate motherhood experience far more pleasant.

8 Best Diet Tips to Ensure a Healthy Surrogate Pregnancy

8 Best Diet Tips to Ensure a Healthy Surrogate Pregnancy

As a surrogate mother, it’s critical that you maintain a healthy, nutritious diet during your pregnancy. Experts recommend that you consume about 300 more calories per day than you had prior to becoming pregnant.

While nausea and vomiting during the first few months can make this difficult, it’s important anyway – not just a well-balanced diet, but the prenatal vitamins that your doctor would prescribe.

Here are some helpful suggestions for foods to include in your diet so that you and your growing baby will be healthy.

1. Choose fresh, high-fiber foods such as whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits, and vegetables. Pregnant women need 25 to 30 grams of fiber-enriched foods each day for optimal health.

2. Especially while pregnant, it’s critical to get enough vitamins and minerals in your daily diet. Pre-natal vitamin supplements are highly recommended; your doctor can suggest or prescribe them for you.

3. A good diet includes a variety of foods so that you get all the nutrients you need. Recommended daily intake should include 6-11 servings of breads and grains, two to four servings of fruit, four or more servings of vegetables; four servings of dairly products, and three servings of protein sources like meat, poultry, fish, eggs or nuts. Avoid fats and sweets.

4. Eat and drink at least four servings a day of dairy products and calcium-rich foods to help ensure that you are getting 1000-1300 mg of calcium in your daily diet during pregnancy.

5. Eat at least three servings of iron-rich foods per day to ensure you are getting at least 27 mg of iron daily. Iron-rich foods include meat and seafood.

6. Have at least one good source of vitamin C every day, such as oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, honeydew, papaya, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green peppers, tomatoes, and mustard greens. Pregnant women need at least 70 mg of vitamin C a day to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

7. Choose at least one source of vitamin A every other day. Sources of vitamin A can include carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, spinach, water squash, turnip greens, beet greens, apricots, and cantaloupe. It is important to know that excessive vitamin A intake (>10,000 IU/day) may be associated with birth defects so be very careful with your vitamin A intake.

8. Choose at least one good source of folic acid every day, like dark-green leafy vegetables, veal, legumes, lima beans, black beans, black-eyed peas and chickpeas. Every pregnant woman needs at least 0.4 mg of folic acid per day to help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

Maintaining a healthy diet as a surrogate will ensure that your baby grows and develops as it should. Every pregnancy, though, is different and the dietary needs may vary between individuals. Be sure to check with your doctor for suggestions regarding your specific needs.


8 Important Medical Procedures Involved in Surrogacy

8 Important Medical Procedures Involved in Surrogacy

Once the legal contract is in place, the surrogate and her intended parents can begin the medical aspect of surrogacy. This can be confusing for first-timers – a good understanding of how these procedures work might give useful insights into what to expect in the surrogacy process.

1. Once the surrogate mother has been matched with her intended parents, she will undergo a full medical examination with a fertility doctor. She’ll have blood drawn to evaluate her hormone levels, and to see if she might have any infectious diseases.

She’ll also undergo a sonohysterogram, which allows the doctor to evaluate the capability of her uterus to carry a pregnancy to term. If the doctor finds cysts, fibroids or endometriosis in her uterus, the process with that particular surrogate may be delayed or cancelled.

2. After all of the results have been assessed and they have met the required standards, the In Vitro Fertilization process can begin. The surrogate mother and intended parent will consult with a fertility doctor, who will guide them through this process.

The intended mother and the surrogate will receive medications – some oral, some injected – that will synchronize their menstrual cycles, stimulate the intended mother’s eggs and prepare the surrogate’s uterine lining to receive the embryos.

3. The eggs are conveyed from the intended mother in a procedure called ‘egg retrieval.’ She’s usually sedated for about an hour while the eggs are harvested.

The eggs are then taken to an embryologist, who combines them with the intended father’s sperm in a laboratory. These new embryos are then cultivated for three to five days.

4. Using a very fine catheter, the cultivated embryos are then transferred into the surrogate’s uterus. The surrogate is awake for this procedure, which isn’t painful. Medications that the surrogate has taken will cause the lining of her uterus to thicken, in order to accept the transferred embryos.

5. The surrogate mother may be advised to rest for approximately 24-72 hours following the embryo transfer, in order to ensure the best opportunity for the embryos to implant in her uterine lining.

6. Ten days later, the surrogate will have a blood test to determine whether pregnancy has been achieved. If the tests are positive, the surrogate will be advised about what further medication or hormone support she’ll need, if any.

7. Once the fertility doctor considers the pregnancy stable – usually after 12 weeks – the surrogate will be referred to her preferred obstetrician for the remainder of the pregnancy and the birth.

8. Until she delivers the baby, the surrogate’s pregnancy will be monitored by an obstetrician. She’ll undergo regular hormone monitoring and ultrasounds to check on the status of her pregnancy.

These are the typical stages in a surrogacy, although it’s important to remember that every journey is different and these steps are only a representative example.


Five First-Trimester Discomforts And How To Remedy Them

Five First-Trimester Discomforts And How To Remedy Them

Surrogate pregnancy is thrilling and amazing, whether it’s your first or not. But as you know, it can also be seriously uncomfortable – especially in the later stages, serious preparation and major lifestyle changes may be necessary.

But discomforts begin as soon as the pregnancy does, in the first trimester. Fortunately, none of them are without a solution. Here’s some advice for what to do when they arise:

1. Nausea and Vomiting.

About half of all pregnant women have experienced nausea – and sometimes vomiting – in the first trimester. This is called ‘morning sickness’ and for some unfortunate women it may persist throughout their pregnancy.

Most experts believe that morning sickness is caused by pregnancy-driven changes in hormonal levels. It seems to be aggravated by stress, travel, and certain high-protein and high-fat foods.

To lessen these symptoms, it helps to eat several small meals a day, rather than a few large ones.

A diet high in complex carbohydrates – foods like whole-wheat bread, pasta, bananas and leafy green vegetables – may also help to reduce the severity of this nausea.

2. Fatigue.

During the first trimester, you’re more likely to feel tired as your body works overtime to nourish the baby. Simple chores will be harder than usual, and you may be surprised at the effort it takes just to get out of bed.

You’ll simply need to accept that your body needs to rest more than it otherwise would. Take as many breaks or naps as you can.

3. Backache

As the baby grows, your weight will increase and your balance will change, causing backaches. Also, in preparation for childbirth, your pelvic joints will begin to loosen – this also contributes to the back strain.

To reduce the strain on your back, learn proper posture and lifting techniques.

4. Frequent Urination

Your uterus, as it grows, will press directly on the bladder. This leads to frequent urination – and can be very uncomfortable when you’re at work or in the middle of something important.

To deal with this, avoid caffeine – drink as little tea, coffee and soda as you can, since these diuretics cause you to urinate more frequently.

It also helps to completely empty your bladder every time. Never try to hold it, when you feel the urge to urinate.

Although these first-trimester discomforts do vary between individual women, it’s important for every surrogate mother to be aware of them – so that you’ll know what to do when they arise.


Five Gifts To Delight Your Intended Parents

Five Gifts To Delight Your Intended Parents

Going the extra mile for your intended parents may form a lasting bond between you. A healthy baby, of course, is the best gift you can give them – but if you want to be extra-nice, personal gifts can go a long way. They need not be expensive; in fact, it’s better for them to be more personal and symbolic.

To help you get started, here are some suggestions:

1. A photo journal of yourself during your pregnancy is an inexpensive gift that would definitely make a good keepsake for the intended parents. Be sure to write little notes along with each picture – “My third week and craving for fruits”, for instance.

Ultrasound images of the baby also make fantastic photos for the intended parents.

2. Home-made videos are another great gift suggestion. All you need is a good camera and some video editing software – the software is readily available for free on the internet, and allows you to personalize the videos.

Many doctors’ offices can give you ultrasounds of the baby, which you could also include in your video.

3. Baby products. These are inexpensive and not particularly sentimental, but very practical – the intended parents are going to need them! Things like diapers, baby powder, wipes and soaps – one way to present them would be in a gift basket.

4. Baby books. Especially for first-time intended parents, these can come in very handy. Having had your own children, perhaps you can give them something that has helped with previous pregnancies.

There’s also the option of giving something they could read to their baby – possibly a book that explains surrogacy to the child!

5. Relaxing candles/aromatherapy. Remember that taking care of a baby isn’t easy, and – as you know from your own experience – the parents do need to unwind every so-often. Gifts like this can come in very handy to assist with that.

Think less about the cost of the gift, and more about what the intended parents would need or treasure – some very thoughtful gifts can be very inexpensive.

The important thing to remember when giving to your intended parents is, ‘what would mean the most to them?’ And by going the extra mile in this way, they may give you extra consideration should they need a surrogate in the future.


Five Pregnancy Cravings and How to Safely Deal With Them

Five Pregnancy Cravings and How to Safely Deal With Them

Many surrogate mothers have experienced cravings during pregnancy for foods that they couldn’t have cared less about before. Some of these cravings are healthy for you and good for the baby, but not all of them – sometimes they can be actively dangerous.

To deal with the cravings, you need to remember to choose healthy options that resemble any unhealthy food you might be craving – you need to integrate some of those cravings for salty, sweet, sour and spicy foods into a nutritionally-balanced diet.

Here are some suggestions for healthier alternatives to commonly-craved food.

1. When you want ice-cream, go instead for non-fat frozen yogurt. This meets your calcium needs while containing far fewer calories.

2. Instead of chocolate, try drizzling some non-fat chocolate syrup onto fresh fruits.

3. Instead of candy, take dried fruits like apricots, or fresh tropical fruit such as mangoes or pineapple.

4. Instead of salty snacks, opt for popcorn sprinkled with herb blends. Sesame breadsticks with spicy mustard dip are also a good substitute.

5. When you’re craving something sour, try squeezing some lemon on your fish, or into a salad. This ensures regular but moderated intake without empty calories. Sugary lemonade can also help meet this need.

Occasionally, pregnant women crave non-food items such as paper, laundry starch and chalk. This is known as ‘pica eating’, and these desires are always best to resist – they can be harmful to you and your baby’s health.

Do your best to keep these pica cravings out of your mind – reward yourself with other treats for resisting them, possibly even unhealthier treats like chocolate.

Occasionally, these cravings can be a sign of other problems – if they persist and become bothersome, see your doctor.

Remember, food cravings are normal during pregnancy. It’s entirely possible to satisfy them while still providing your baby with the nutrients they need to grow. But don’t give in too much to your desire for high-calorie foods – they may translate into excessive weight gain, which in turn increases the risk of gestational diabetes and unhealthy blood pressure.

Instead, make sure your diet is balanced – it should include lean sources of protein, reduced-fat dairy foods, whole grains, fruit, vegetables and legumes. If your diet is generally good, a little bit of unhealthy food won’t crowd out the nutrition you and your baby need.

Keep these simple substitution tips in mind, and you can be sure that your surrogate baby will get all the nutrients it needs to properly develop.


Food Cravings During Pregnancy Explained

While food cravings are a well-known symptom of pregnancy, surrogate and otherwise, it’s still not quite understood what causes them. Some experts believe they’re meant to indicate nutritional deficiencies in a woman’s diet, while others believe that the types of food being craved are indicative of the baby’s gender.

In a recent survey, 80% of pregnant women said they’d experienced food cravings. 40% of them craved something sweet, 33% wanted salty foods, 17% craved spicy foods, and 10% craved sour and citrus fruits.

Based on these results, the top ten foods included ice cream, pickles, tomatoes and tomato sauce, lemon, cheese and chocolate. It seems relatively common for women to want animal fats – steak and pork fat, for instance.

Some women want strange combinations – black olives on cheesecake, pickles wrapped in cheese, and eggplant on pizza have all been reported. Exclusively craving a single food is also common – pickled onions, salsa and peaches seem especially popular in that regard.

Following the birth of their baby, many women for some reason experience an aversion to those same craved-for foods.

As stated, experts are divided on the explanation for these cravings – there are several theories. The more popular ones are:

1. Hormonal changes may alter a woman’s senses of taste and smell, making her want food she normally wouldn’t have enjoyed. This theory could also explain why menopausal women often experience food cravings/aversions.

2. They’re a reaction to nutritional deficiencies. For instance, a craving for pickles may indicate low sodium levels in the blood, while a vitamin B deficiency may drive a craving for chocolate. Desire for red meat could indicate a need for protein, while cravings for peaches could be a result of low beta carotene levels.

3. Emotional changes are known to be connected with food intake – a pregnant woman may crave certain foods, consciously or subconsciously, as a response to emotional needs. Often pregnant women want foods that remind them nostalgically of their childhoods, or perhaps their cultural/religious backgrounds, particularly if they haven’t eaten those foods in a while.

Remember that there’s no scientific consensus on this – no data to prove that cravings are related to biological needs, and none to prove that they (generally) are harmful.

But it’s important regardless to watch your diet while pregnant. Find healthy substitutes for the tastes your body is craving, and never deprive yourself of food in general. If problems do arise that prevent you from eating balanced meals and gaining weight as you should, check with your doctor – it may be indicative of something more serious. As a surrogate mother, your intended parents will most definitely appreciate your taking care of yourself.