We previously had Kristina Fabis - Nurse Practitioner, former labor and delivery nurse and Clinical Nurse Liaison from ConceiveAbilities, answering member questions.
Q: What are pregnancy success rates for surrogacy using FET? I can find all sorts of stats, but they all seem to pertain to the couples undergoing IVF with some history of infertility. - [Anonymous question]
KF: IVF clinics in the US have a surrogacy success rate of about 75%. Once pregnant, the surrogate's success rate for a healthy birth appears to be as high as 95%. ConceiveAbilities most recently obtained data shows a success rate of 76.4% which slightly exceeds industry statistics.
Q: I'm curious if there were differences in your recovery with your "regular" pregnancies and your surrogacy pregnancies? - @Lisa L
KF: Great question, Lisa! My children were born vaginally and breastfed initially. Because all 3 sets of my intended parents were interested in giving my expressed breast milk to their infants, I provided milk for each of them. I pumped every 2-3 hours in those days and weeks right after my deliveries. It was exhausting at times but as a OB nurse, I knew the benefits it would provide and wanted to do it. Too, it was also easier in some ways because of the fact that I wasn't also tending to a newborn at home as well.
My first surrogacy (a singleton) and second surrogacy (twins) were also vaginal deliveries. I never needed more than ibuprofen for cramping or a sore bottom after any of those first four births. My third surrogacy, which was another set of twins, was delivered via a c-section. Although I hadn't anticipated not being able to deliver that set of twins vaginally, I was surprised at how easy the recovery was. I took ibuprofen and what not when and if I needed it, made sure to follow my discharge instructions, and continued my prenatal vitamins months past the birth to ensure that my body got all that it needed.
Q: Is there anything that you wish you would have done differently with your surrogacy journeys? [Anonymous question]
KF: Honestly? No. Well, I take that back. I would not have waited until my last IVF cycle for my third set of intended parents to give myself my first progesterone injection. I had always had my husband, or maybe a coworker a time or two, give them to me. While on medications for the embryo transfer that ultimately resulted in my second and final set of surrotwins, I ended up out of town and away from home, away from my husband and my coworkers. It took me a few minutes to talk myself into giving myself the injection but once I did, I questioned why I hadn’t done it years or many cycles sooner. It wasn’t bad at all and was much easier than I had ever anticipated.
Q: I saw the question about recovery differences for keepers vs surro babes. I’m wondering if there’s a difference in pregnancy and labor/delivery as well, or if those differences can be chalked up to being older and subsequent pregnancies. [Anonymous Question]
KF: As is the case with any pregnancy, some differences can indeed be chalked up to the reasons you mentioned. I would say the biggest difference in these two types of pregnancies is that when going through IVF, you are monitored more frequently and closely than a woman typically is when a pregnancy is conceived naturally. Also, more often than not, you are on medication (estrogen, progesterone, etc…) as part of a fertility clinic’s protocol. That being said, by the end of the first trimester, a surrogate is often taking just a prenatal vitamin daily and will have been released from the clinic’s care to her OB’s care. It is at that point that the pregnancy seems and feels more like your past ones…..except that there are appointments and updates to share with your intended parents. :)
ConceiveAbilities does a fantastic job when it comes to managing all aspects of a surrogacy, and the planning that goes into ‘the big day’ is no exception. They connect with the hospital well before a surrogate delivers to ensure the appropriate documents are on file, speak with hospital staff to secure a separate room for the patients during your stay and more. The match management team will also have conducted a meeting with the surrogate and IPs to discuss all other aspects of the labor and delivery experience as well. This occurs before you ever present to the hospital to deliver. Your preferences and comfort matter!
Such a great question, by the way. Please don't hesitate to reach out should you like me to expand on anything further. We/I realize that not everyone knows a surrogate personally and that often times first hand experience speaks volume. I'm happy to tell you/anyone anything, as well as to answer additional questions. I can be contacted by email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.