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  • Lauren Mello

What to Expect for Your Surrogate Embryo Transfer

a pineapple

It's Transfer Tuesday and we chatted with some Circle Surrogacy experienced surrogates to learn more about the embryo transfer stage of the surrogacy process! From what they packed to how they recovered, we're talking about each step of the embryo transfer and how women can better prepare themselves for the big day!

The embryo transfer is one of the most exciting events during a surrogacy journey. At the transfer stage, a gestational carrier has already gone through the application process, pre-screening, the consultation and screening, she's been matched, she's completed her medical screening at her IPs fertility clinic, legal contracts have been negotiated and signed, and she has started medications for transfer!

Where does the embryo transfer take place?

The embryo transfer happens at the intended parents fertility clinic. This is the clinic that the surrogate has already gone to for her medical screening, so when she goes for her transfer, she has already met the team. We asked our surrogates about their experiences at the clinic and got many helpful responses. One surrogate said "Overall, I have loved our coordinator at the clinic. She is so responsive and friendly, and I feel her genuine excitement and happiness for all of us through this process. Nurses and doctors have always been friendly." Another surrogate shared "Overall transfer was good. My IPs did acupuncture for me before transfer and it was great for my first time. Dr. L (RMA-CT) was great, the nurses were great."

Often times intended parents will travel for the embryo transfer so they can be at the clinic with their surrogate for the big day. This allows the surrogate and intended parents to bond and start to build a relationship. One surrogate shared about her experience with her intended father and said "My IF was very supportive during the transfer process- his favorite part is the embryo photo that we got each time! We joked about how cute they were lol."

Because of restrictions due to COVID, many intended parents weren't able to travel for the transfer, but many of our surrogates have video chatted with their IPs during the appointment so they can still feel like they are there! Many surrogates video chat with their IPs during the transfer even outside of the new pandemic restrictions as not all IPs are able to travel for the embryo transfer appointment. One surrogate shared "Luckily, I was able to transfer before COVID really hit, so my sister was able to be in the room with me and were able to Skype my IP's for the process." For those surrogates that did travel for their transfer during the pandemic, their experience may have been a little different. A surrogate who had her transfer in October 2020 said lightheartedly "unfortunately I had to attend alone. Going into a building without my husband and coming out pregnant is quite an experience!"

Sticky notes that say "sticky thoughts" and "transfer day"

Do surrogates have to travel for the embryo transfer?

Many times the intended parents' fertility clinic is not local to the surrogate, so she does need to travel for the appointment. This is the second time that a surrogate has been to her intended parents' fertility clinic and this is usually a 3-7 day trip. The surrogate's Primary Support Person will travel with her. This is a longer trip, so we asked our surrogates what they packed and they provided some great tips! One experienced surrogate shared, that she packs her "Normal travel bag and medicines. I also bring Zicam or nasal spray (both safe for pregnancy) because I always get sick when I travel!" A nasal spray for the plane was a suggestion that a few surrogates made! Another carrier shared "I packed my blanket, a book, phone charger and some comfy clothes. Of course I brought my lucky pineapple socks from Circle as well, I wore them to all of my baby appointments. They were my good luck charm." Many Circle Surrogates mentioned their pineapple socks because the clinic can be cold and you need to bring warm socks!

One word of advice from the experienced surrogates for women preparing for their embryo transfer was to have fun and "enjoy the travel if you can, try to relax and be optimistic. “Pregnant until proven otherwise!” This has been tougher to do during COVID, but surrogates have gotten creative with how they can explore the new city while still staying safe and staying inside. One surrogate recommends finding local restaurants ahead of time and enjoying takeout or dining outside options!

What is the embryo transfer like?

The embryo transfer itself is relatively quick, and surrogates are given instructions from the IVF doctor on protocols following the transfer. The swiftness of the whole procedure was the number one thing our surrogates mentioned! One surrogate shared "The whole procedure is a lot faster than you think it is. You spend more time waiting for the doctor with your legs crossed and trying not to pee.It's also super easy. They insert a speculum (like a pap) and put in a tube and get the ultrasound ready and 30 seconds later you're done!" One of our surrogates who has been a surrogate twice, but has done 4 transfers shared a similar sentiment and said "All of my transfers were quick, painless and an overall positive experience. The staff were incredibly supportive and answered any questions we had. I felt lucky to be in such good hands!" Even our most experienced surrogates have been surprised at how quickly the procedure happens! One surrogate who completed her transfer during the pandemic shared "I had a student observe the procedure, and surprisingly it was much less uncomfortable than a routine pap-smear. I remember saying, "what, they are in?" and the doctor confirmed we were all done."

Once the transfer procedure is complete, it's time for rest, relaxation, and of course, french fries!

french fries

How is the recovery from a surrogate embryo transfer?

The recovery process for each women is a little different and each clinic has different protocol. When chatting with our experienced carriers, many of them said similar things about their recovery. When asked about her recovery, one surrogate joked "What recovery? LOL. I felt completely normal, no cramping or anything. We enjoyed a lovely lunch and headed home. I took it easy for the rest of the day, but almost felt silly doing so because I felt so normal." Another relayed a similar message and said "My recovery was easy each time and I did take it easier but didn’t really have any major limits to my normal life." Many surrogates have shared that the recovery after the embryo transfer includes a lot of resting and relaxing.

Some clinics require that surrogates have bedrest after the transfer while others just recommend taking it easy and not doing too much physical activity. One surrogate whose first journey required bedrest and second did not said "My first journey required bedrest and although it was tough I did enjoy the relaxation and small break! The first time around I relied on my travel companion (my mother in law) to do food runs, the following times I traveled alone and stocked the hotel mini-fridge as soon as I arrived, which was quite convenient and saved money on expensive room service! I grabbed plenty of fruit, some juices, stuff for salads, yogurt, pineapple 🍍of course and a french baguette- a nod to my French IF; basically anything that didn’t need to be cooked since there was no microwave in the room. This current journey didn’t require bedrest but I did take it easy once I was home."

One takeaway from these experiences from our surrogates is that getting rest and trying to relax is key for the recovery process!

A word of advice for women about to transfer

There have been a lot of valuable insights provided by our surrogates so far, but this piece of advice really sticks: "It's okay to be nervous, and when they say uncomfortably full bladder...they mean it!!"'

If you'd like to read more about the surrogacy process and how it works, visit the surrogate section of our website! If you're interested in becoming a surrogate at Circle Surrogacy, we encourage you to apply today!


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