A Comprehensive Guide to the Stages of Pregnancy: See the Stages of Pregnancy You Will Go Through as a Surrogate Mother!
As a surrogate mother, either first-time or not, perhaps you’ve grown curious about the stages of pregnancy.
Because you’ve decided to become a surrogate for another family, you may also wonder about the process as a whole.
It’s an incredible and selfless decision you’ve made, choosing to be a surrogate mother for intended parents. Surrogacy and pregnancy can be confusing topics.
This article will discuss the stages of pregnancy and what you might expect when carrying a baby for someone else.
Before a baby is placed within your uterus via the IVF process, your intended parents first have to unite their egg and sperm.
While there are many choices for fertilization, one of the most popular choices is in-vitro fertilization. During this process, the intended parents’ egg and sperm are placed in a petri dish.
This helps to enhance and boost the chances of a sperm finding an egg. Once fertilization has occurred, the egg is placed within the surrogate mother’s uterus.
IVF can be an effective method for parents who are unable to conceive through traditional means.
If the intended mother is unable to carry the baby herself due to any number of fertility problems, then they may choose to have a surrogate carry their baby instead.
That’s where you come into play.
Becoming a surrogate is a wonderful decision and an incredible experience.
Not only do you get to experience the wonders of pregnancy but you’re also helping a family achieve their dream of having a child. IVF is just the first step during the pregnancy process.
Regardless of what the fertility clinic helps the intended parents decide, once the egg has been fertilized, it is placed within the surrogate mother’s uterus.
Once the egg has been inserted–through IVF, we wait in great anticipation to for a pregnancy test in 8-10 days to see if the embryo has implanted and the developing fetus starts to grow.
Typically, it takes 40 weeks for a developing baby to grow to the correct height and stage of development for birth.
That should be the case for a surrogate mother as well.
Obviously, if something happens during the development, a surrogacy may need to be delivered early.
One aspect that you may wonder about is weight gain. Being pregnant affects women differently. Some women become quite large when they’re pregnant.
Others barely gain much weight save for the weight of the baby. Typically, those women who are at a healthy and normal body weight can usually expect to gain about 25 to 35 pounds.
For those women who were underweight before undergoing in-vitro fertilization, you may experience more weight gain. This is because your body needs extra fat and nutrients in order to support a baby.
A woman who wants to become a surrogate should do her best to be at a normal weight in order to carry a baby.
This means less stress will be placed on your body and less stress on the baby.
Those who are overweight can typically expect to gain less weight. That’s because you already have the fat and mass that is required for a developing fetus.
A fertility clinic can tell you before the IVF procedure whether your weight may be a problem or not for growing the baby.
The distribution of that weight may come as some surprise.
Typically, women gain around 7.5 pounds in the fetal area. That makes sense since that’s where the baby is growing. The placenta, which is responsible for feeding and providing the developing baby with nutrients, comes in around 1.5 pounds. Your uterus will weigh around 2 pounds.
You can expect to gain about 4 pounds simply due to the amount of blood in your body. An additional 4 pounds can be gained due to the increase of other fluids in your body.
Another 2 pounds is typically added in your breasts. Even amniotic fluid will add 2 pounds.
Finally, depending on how much protein and fat your body builds up for the baby, you can also typically gain 7 pounds due to those sources. In total, that’s around 30 pounds alone.
Exactly how much you gain will be dependent upon your diet and exercise level while you carry the baby.
No matter if you’re doing surrogacy in California for the first time, a second time, or even a fifth time, being pregnant is different every time.
For a surrogate mother, especially, because you’re carrying someone else’s child, you’re not always going to know exactly how it’s going to develop.
Understandably, there may be a few problems that could arise.
For one, after in-vitro fertilization has been completed and the baby starts to develop, you may experience mood swings. That’s a normal part of being pregnant.
If they become too severe, however, you may wish to speak with your surrogate agency in California as well as your doctor. The intended parents may be uncomfortable with the idea of certain medications to help with your mood swings.
It’s vital that when you’re deciding on becoming a surrogate that you understand you’ll need to speak with the intended parents and your surrogacy agency regularly on any changes that you’re experiencing. You’re a team unit.
Morning sickness is another common problem that you may experience. Luckily, this only typically occurs during the first 12 weeks of being pregnant.
However, if it occurs a lot or longer than 12 weeks, then you might want to see your doctor. Your blood pressure and blood sugar levels should also be regularly tested. This is to ensure that your blood pressure remains at a healthy level.
Gestational diabetes is also possible in women who have poor blood sugar levels. These are all problems that can be treated with your doctor.
The First Trimester
Once intended parents contact our surrogate agency to find a surrogate, yourself, and the egg has been implanted within you (through the process called “transfer”), the first trimester begins.
This is an exciting time for everyone. All of the work with the fertility clinic and using our professional reliable surrogacy agency in Roseville, CA- has led to this.
The first trimester covers the period in which conception has taken place to about the 12th week of development.
Obviously, for surrogates, it marks the moment from when the fertilized egg is placed in your body.
You will likely notice this change when your period stops occurring. This is because ovulation has ceased.
Your body has recognized that it is pregnant and instead focuses its efforts on maintaining and developing the baby instead.
Immediately, you’ll be plunged into a whirlwind of hormones. These hormones typically affect almost every organ in the body.
You may experience a few unpleasant symptoms such as extreme fatigue. It isn’t uncommon for mothers to suddenly nod off out of seemingly nowhere.
Until you’re used to the new level of exhaustion that you might feel, it’s not a bad idea to leave the driving and other potentially dangerous activities to someone else.
Another change that you may experience in the first trimester is a swelling and general discomfort in your breasts.
This is because your breasts are slowly making the transition of being empty to being filled with natural milk. Your nipples may protrude and your breasts may be tender to the touch.
It isn’t a bad idea during this period to find a bra that is specifically made for pregnant women. The material can be much more forgiving on sensitive breasts.
Morning sickness or nausea is also common.
Not all women will suffer from morning sickness, however. While some may only experience it after eating certain foods.
There are medications available to help with morning sickness. However, you should speak with your doctor and intended parents before taking them.
One interesting factor that many pregnant women aren’t aware of is that they may develop an aversion to certain foods.
While the reasons for this aren’t entirely known, what may once have been a favorite food of yours may suddenly make you feel nauseous. Perhaps you were a big fan of buffalo sauce.
Yet, suddenly, the very smell is enough to make you head for the bathroom.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you may find yourself suddenly craving food that you wouldn’t have eaten before. You can certainly endeavor to eat those foods provided that they are healthy for both yourself and the baby that you’re carrying.
Mood swings are also quite typical.
This is typically in response to all of the hormones that are spiking and ebbing within your body. Being pregnant shuts down some of the hormones that are typically associated with your menstruation.
This can cause feelings of aggression to occur. While you can opt for medications to help keep yourself stabilized, it isn’t a bad idea to simply make yourself a zen room either.
This area can belong to you and be your place to restore yourself emotionally and physically throughout being pregnant.
An unfortunate part of being pregnant is that it also messes with your bladder control. In the first trimester, you may discover that constipation is more common.
The opposite end of this is that you’re also urinating a lot more often.
As the baby develops, the need to urinate will likely become more frequent and more intense. It isn’t uncommon for women to choose to wear adult diapers just in case of an accident.
In the case of constipation, there are medications and even some simple fruits that can help you stay regular.
Headaches and heartburn are also symptoms that may arise during the first trimester. The headaches can seemingly come out nowhere.
Even the heartburn can develop out of nothing though sometimes they may be triggered by certain foods.
Finally, you will experience some form of weight gain or loss depending on your health, weight, and your eating habits during the first trimester.
It’s not a bad idea to revise your daily routine during your first trimester. You may find that you need to go to bed earlier or even sleep longer.
You shouldn’t feel as though you’re somehow weaker because you need more sleep.
In fact, sleeping is a great thing to do for any pregnant woman. It may also be a good idea to eat smaller meals but more frequently. This can help your stomach digest the food a lot easier rather than consuming a large meal a few times a day. It may even help with your energy levels.
First Trimester: Baby’s Development
After discovering how to find a surrogate and being introduced to you, both yourself and the intended parents are likely quite excited about knowing how the baby is going to develop.
During the first trimester, the first four weeks will compromise of the following developments:
- The brain and spinal cord will start to form.
- Heart formation will begin.
- Both arm and leg buds will appear and start to grow.
- Baby has reached embryo status and is around 1/25 inch in length.
It’s at the eight-week mark that the embryo becomes an official fetus.
The following developments will occur:
- All of the major organs start to develop and form.
- The baby’s heart starts to beat.
- Those buds for arms and legs are starting to grow longer.
- Sex organs are also beginning to form.
- The face starts to develop and become more defined.
- The umbilical cord is fully formed and visible.
- The baby has officially become a fetus and is only around an inch long.
At the end of the first trimester, the 12-week mark, the following developments are occurring:
- The baby’s nerves and muscles are starting to work.
- The baby is able to form a fist.
- The sex organs have become external and the sex of the baby can be determined.
- Eyelids are developed and will remain closed until around the 28th week.
- The growth of the head is slowed.
- The baby is around 3 inches long.
The Second Trimester
After 12 weeks have passed, a surrogate enters the second trimester of being pregnant.
This period covers the 13th week into the 28th week. There are still some changes that you may experience as you enter this portion of being pregnant. Much of the unpleasant symptoms may fade away at this point, thankfully.
Clearly, you’re a warrior for making it through the discomfort. Your intended parents were lucky to be introduced to you when they were searching for how to find a surrogate.
In particular, your morning sickness, as well as your fatigue, may disappear completely. Or it will simply lessen.
However, the baby bump has begun to form. Your abdomen begins to grow and swell in order to support the full development of the baby. There are, however, a few changes and discomforts that you may experience during this stage.
For one, you might start to experience pains or aches in the abdomen, back, thigh, or groin areas. This is due to the new weight that is being added to your body.
You have to carry your weight in a new way. Your body isn’t used to it.
As a result, the muscles are often overextended or used in ways they’re not typically used. A good massage and plenty of soaking in a bathtub can be a remedy for those aches and pains.
You may also notice stretch marks beginning to form.
For many women, these can be a bit embarrassing. They’re not. They’re just a natural part of the process.
You can deal with those stretch marks after the baby has been born. Some of them may even go away on their own after the birth is over and you return to your usual weight.
There may also be darkening in color around your nipple. This is simply because your nipples have to toughen up a little in order to handle being fed from by the baby.
You may also notice that darker patches of skin are growing on your cheeks or face. This is also normal though it doesn’t happen to everyone.
Another skin blemish that you may notice is a line that runs down from your belly button to the pubic hairline. This is basically another stretch mark.
Itchy hands, feet, or abdomen isn’t entirely uncommon either. Nor is swelling of the feet, face, and fingers, especially if you’ve been on your feet for a long period.
However, if you notice that the swelling is extremely bad, it hurts a lot, or you’ve suddenly gained a lot of weight, then it may be prudent to call your doctor.
Second Trimester: Baby’s Development
At 16 weeks, the baby begins to undergo the following developments:
- Its musculoskeletal system starts to develop.
- Its skin starts to form but it is largely translucent at this stage.
- Meconium develops in the baby’s bowels which allows it to have its first bowel movements.
- It is also common for babies to start sucking at this point in development. It’s known as a suck reflex.
- The baby is around 4 to 5 inches long.
At 20 weeks, you may start to experience some of the following and the baby continues to develop in such ways as:
- The baby is kicking and moving.
- They’re more active.
- Their skin becomes soft and feathery.
- Eyebrows, nails, and eyelashes have formed.
- The baby is capable of both hearing and swallowing.
- They are 6 inches long.
The 24-week mark brings further changes:
- The bone marrow is created and the baby is able to produce blood cells.
- Taste buds, footprints, and fingerprints have formed.
- Hair is growing and the lungs are made but not functional yet.
- The baby is 12 inches long.
The Third Trimester
Weeks 29 to birth make up the third trimester.
Some of the changes from the second trimester may continue into the third. You may also experience further swelling, an increase in urination, contractions, tender breasts that leak milk, and shortness of breath.
Anything too out of the ordinary should be brought to the attention of your doctor.
Third Trimester: Baby’s Development
The long road has come to this. From figuring out how to find a surrogate to the last few weeks of development, the third trimester is one of the most exciting parts of having a baby.
At 32 weeks, these developments are made:
- Bones are formed but they’re still quite soft.
- They are also more active and likely kick a lot more.
- Their eyes are capable of opening and closing.
- They’re also practicing breathing at this point.
- They’re about 15 to 17 inches in length.
At 36 weeks, they have developed:
- The waxy coating on their skin increases.
- Their fat increases.
- The baby is 16 to 19 inches long.
In the last few weeks:
- The baby’s organs are fully developed and ready for use upon birth.
- Mineral storage.
Birth is achieved and all parties, your significant other, as well as your surrogacy coordinator (most of the time I will visit families personally for the birth if we are able to!) and the intended parents, will be there.
If the parents are from an international country, most likely they are anticipating the birth of their surrogate child and have been on their way and will be there soon!
If you’re considering becoming a surrogate with our agency- we encourage you to fill out this form or call us at 916-226-4342.
If you are an intended parent looking forward to finding a surrogate through our surrogate agency in Sacramento- we look forward to partnering with you. Please fill out this inquiry to get started!