Meeting certain surrogate BMI (body mass index) requirements is a 'must' to maximize the chances of a successful surrogacy journey for you and your intended parents.
While you don't necessarily have to be in extraordinary shape to qualify as a surrogate or as an egg donor, it sure doesn't hurt to be physically fit and active before applying to be a surrogate. No matter what, surrogate agencies will always require that you meet specific medical standards, and body mass index (BMI) is one of them.
Although it’s not the ultimate gauge of your overall physical fitness, BMI clearly has an effect when it comes to the fertility treatments and medications necessary to become a gestational surrogate. Medical research has proven that a surrogate’s BMI does influence how successful the process will be.
While there’s never a guarantee of successful impregnation through in-vitro fertilization, your odds significantly increase when you have a healthy BMI. Having said that, here's why surrogate BMI counts.
What is BMI, and what does it measure?
The basic formula for body mass index or "BMI", is easy to understand. It entails a simple division problem that only involves your height and weight.
To find out your BMI, you simply divide your height by your weight, which gives a general indication of whether or not you're at risk for health complications related to obesity. The catch is that BMI is a general indicator and not a foolproof predictor of who is healthy and who isn't.
Still, the general idea is that people with obesity are at a greater risk of things like heart disease, diabetes – and, yes, pregnancy complications. Certainly, overweight women can give birth to healthy babies, but you must examine the whole picture.
Medical research, especially as it applies to fertility sciences, shows that a correlation between BMI and a normal pregnancy exists. Thus, asking for a surrogate to have a specific BMI is a reasonable request to ensure as much as possible that the surrogacy journey will go on without a hitch.
What are the surrogate BMI requirements, and why do they matter?
Our surrogacy agency requires that prospective surrogates demonstrate a BMI of between 18 and 32 to qualify.
According to medical news sources, a BMI of 29.6 is average for women in the United Sates, so while being incredibly fit isn't a requirement, a prospective surrogate shouldn't be far beyond the national average to qualify.
Of course, some surrogacy agencies will require different BMIs, and this requirement can be influenced by whether or not egg donation is involved, or if gestational surrogacy is desired. The latter tends to require lower BMIs on average.
If that's the case, there's nothing wrong with getting in shape and eating better before deciding to embark on the surrogacy journey.
How do these BMI requirements protect the surrogate?
Requiring a BMI to be a certain level protects the surrogate's health in a few ways.
Mainly, if you're obese and unhealthy, you typically have a more challenging time during pregnancy. The baby may be delivered happy and healthy, the surrogate's BMI can affect how difficult it is for them to bear the pregnancy's ups, downs and unpredictable swings.
In particular, studies show that having a higher BMI positively correlates with needing a cesarean delivery, which are prone to complications. While the overall necessity for cesarean deliveries is 36.2%, this figure increased to 39.1% of overweight individual, 40.8% of obese individuals, and 56.6% of morbidly obese individuals, according to a 2009 study on cesarean deliveries.
But the good news is that pregnancy in the US has a high success rate, one of the best in the world, as a matter of fact. However, having a healthy baby isn't a guarantee–it's a blessing!
Problems can arise even if you're in perfect health, so having a nominally healthy BMI is required to minimize the risk to you and to the unborn child.
How do these BMI requirements protect the baby?
Essentially, the same benefits apply to the baby as well as do the surrogate!
Scientific research shows a clear correlation between their mother's BMI and how well babies do in their most formative years. Abiding by healthy surrogate BMI requirements help the baby by increasing the likelihood of successful embryo implantation in gestational surrogates, and limits the risk of the baby experiencing neural tube defects (NTDs).
As a woman's BMI increases, fertility medications may not work as well–even when taken as prescribed by a physician!
To minimize the ambiguous in such an important aspect of the gift of life, we must operate with as much certainty as possible.
After all, the baby and the surrogate's health is paramount to our surrogacy agency and to intended parents alike!
What can I do to achieve a healthy BMI and qualify for surrogacy?
Surrogate BMI requirements exist to promote healthy outcomes, but if you're interested in becoming a surrogate but don't quite meet these surrogacy requirements, there is plenty you can do.
The best way to lower your BMI is to consult with a physician to see whether or not you’re experiencing any problems that may be exaggerating your BMI, and for ways to get healthy quick! Some health conditions like early-stage diabetes may prevent you from being able to lower BMI effectively.
If nothing is holding you back from a health standpoint, you can always reach out to our team to speak with a surrogate for a consult or for words of motivation! We even have surrogacy support groups to help foster a healthy community for past, present and future surrogates!
We're a boutique surrogate agency specializing in quickly matching intended parents around the world with our fully-vetted, exceptional surrogates.
We help individuals and couples, regardless of race or sexual orientation, build their families through the miracle of surrogacy.
Every team member at SurrogateFirst is either a former intended parent or an experienced surrogate. We also have first-hand knowledge of what it takes to have an incredible, successful surrogate journey.