What Is A Surrogate Mother?

A picture of a happy surrogate mother. There is no surrogacy without a surrogate mother. According to the Oxford English Language Dictionary, “surrogate mother” is even in the definition of surrogacy. Surrogacy is defined as “the process of giving birth as a surrogate mother or of arranging such a birth.” Therefore, to understand the role of a surrogate mother in all its intricacies, responsibilities, and benefits, you must first understand surrogacy as a whole.

What Is Surrogacy?

Surrogacy is the process of carrying and delivering a child for an intended parent or couple. The intended parents are the people who want to have a child and decide to pursue surrogacy. Surrogate mothers partner with intended parents to help make their dreams of parenthood come true.

Types of Surrogacy

Gestational Surrogacy

Majority of surrogacy partnerships today utilize gestational surrogacy, meaning the child is not biologically related to the surrogate mother at all. Rather, the eggs of the intended mother and the sperm of the intended father are combined and transferred to the surrogate’s uterus. This modern medical miracle allows a parent or pair of parents to have children who are biologically-related to them, even if they were told by doctors or fertility specialists that they would never be able to conceive.

A completed gestational surrogacy journey involves the collection of the intended mother’s eggs, which is a surgical process that can be performed at a fertility clinic. The intended mother (or donor, if desired) uses hormones that tell the body to produce more than one egg in a single cycle. This results in the collection of multiple eggs in a single removal process, and therefore results in a higher chance of a successful pregnancy.

Sperm is collected from the intended father or a donor. The fertility clinic will then utilize IVF (in-vitro fertilization) to combine the egg and sperm, and to impregnate the surrogate mother. One or two embryos may be transferred. From there, the surrogate acts as a gestational carrier and carries the embryo to term, allowing it to grow into a healthy baby.

Because there is no biological connection between surrogate mother and child with gestational surrogacy, it also reduces any emotional or legal complications, making the entire process and establishment of parental rights more straightforward.


Traditional Surrogacy

The other type of surrogacy is known today as traditional surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy takes place when the surrogate mother’s own egg is used to become pregnant. It can be combined with the intended father’s sperm or with the sperm of a donor. This is now far more uncommon than gestational surrogacy. Typically, even if the intended mother’s eggs cannot be used or she does not want to use them, the egg of a donor will be used, not the surrogate’s.

Commercial Surrogacy

Commercial surrogacy occurs when the surrogate mother receives payment for her contribution in carrying and delivering the child. This payment is not simply a reimbursement of medical and pregnancy-related expenses. Surrogacy agencies partake in commercial surrogacy because we believe a surrogate mother should be compensated for her sacrifice in such a miraculous journey. Most surrogates become friends with the intended parents they partner with.

Altruistic Surrogacy

There is a type of surrogacy in which the surrogate mother does not get paid, but surrogacy agencies do not usually assist with this type of partnership. Altruistic surrogacy only occurs when the surrogate is a family member or a friend of the intended parents. 

No matter what type of surrogacy a person wishes to pursue, we recommend always enlisting the help of professionals to help you navigate through some of the trickier parts of the journey. A trusted legal team, a medical clinic you can rely on, and an agency that can answer your questions and make demands on your behalf are necessary for those who do not have a full understanding of the industry. If you are looking to pursue surrogacy as either an intended parent or a surrogate mother, please do not hesitate to reach out here. We are excited to meet you and to get your questions answered.

What Are The Qualifications To Become A Surrogate Mother?

Becoming a surrogate involves a lot of time, energy, and commitment. Prospective surrogates need to be well-prepared both medically and emotionally. These are the basic qualifications to become a surrogate through most agencies, including Los Angeles Surrogacy. They help to ensure a healthy and successful pregnancy and delivery of a beautiful, healthy baby!


Surrogate mothers need to be between the ages of 20 and 39. Biologically, this is the best time for a woman to give birth.

Previous Pregnancy

An additional requirement of a surrogate mother is she must already have at least one child of her own that she carried and delivered. It is important that there were no major complications with this pregnancy or delivery.


The surrogate mother must be raising at least one of her own children in her own home.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Surrogate mothers must have a healthy Body Mass Index. Though this can look unique for each person and can be advised by a doctor, a healthy BMI is typically a 33 or less. According to the World Health Organization, the healthiest BMI range is between 18.5 and 24.9. People with BMIs above 33 see a higher rate of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and preterm birth.


Legal Status

It is required that a surrogate mother be a legal United States citizen, holder of a valid Green Card, or otherwise legally reside in the country. If you are in a unique situation, please reach out so we can discuss if working together is a viable option.

Drug Use

Surrogate mother candidates must not use any illegal drugs or antidepressants for at least one year before applying. Nicotine is also not allowed. Drug tests are required from all surrogate mother candidates.

Emotional Stability

Just as there will be a physical examination upon applying to become a surrogate mother, there will also be a psychological evaluation. This helps to ensure that each candidate is happy, healthy, and wanting to pursue surrogacy on her own accord. Support from family and significant others, if applicable, is required.

Prospective surrogate mothers will also need to pass background tests. They will be interviewed on past medical complications and on their routine menstrual cycles. They will fill out applications with personal information, answer lifestyle questions, and note their preferences, including compensation preferences. Education and personal finances may also be addressed. Though this interview is thorough, it helps to protect the security of everybody involved and to increase the chance of a worry-free pregnancy and partnership.

What Does The Surrogacy Process Look Like For A Surrogate Mother?

From initial inquiries to welcoming a baby into the world, surrogacy is a beautiful, collaborative journey. Los Angeles Surrogacy is a leading agency within the United States, and our long history of successful surrogacy pairings and happy, healthy babies speaks for itself.

We guide our surrogates through a 10-step process, as detailed below.

  1. The first step in any prospective surrogate mother’s journey is the initial desire to become a surrogate. Many surrogates love children and are struck with the aspiration to help others achieve their dreams of parenthood. This is when she would research surrogacy agencies and reach out to her top choices. These conversations can be email exchanges, phone calls, Zoom calls, or in-person meetings that address all of her questions, comments, and concerns.
  2. If the prospective surrogate decides she wants to pursue surrogacy and believes the agency to be a good fit (and vice versa), she will fill out a surrogate profile. This is where information is collected and pre-screenings are performed. Once this step is completed, she waits for a match with an interested intended parent or couple!
  3. Once an interested match becomes a partnership (this usually happens after a few conversations with the intended parents), each party discusses their specific preferences. This includes compensation, any travel plans, whether or not the surrogate mother will have skin-to-skin contact with the baby, and anything else that either side would like to discuss.
  4. Physical and psychological evaluations are performed as the surrogate mother prepares for the IVF procedure.
  5. Legal paperwork is signed by both parties, who are represented by two different attorneys.
  6. The embryo is transferred to the surrogate mother’s uterus. There is a two-week wait before she takes a pregnancy test. If she is not pregnant, another embryo transfer will take place. If she is pregnant, the excitement begins!
  7. Throughout the next nine months, the surrogate mother cares for herself and the unborn baby through regular medical appointments and healthcare guidance. She will receive unwavering care and support from her family, the intended parents, and the Los Angeles Surrogacy team.
  8. The pre-birth order is signed, recognizing the intended parents as the legal guardians of the baby.
  9. The baby arrives! The surrogate mother delivers the child at a predetermined hospital. The intended parents and Los Angeles Surrogacy case manager will both be at the hospital at the time of the delivery, unless predetermined otherwise.
  10. After the birth, all legal documents for the baby are created, including the birth certificate and any necessary travel documents. The surrogate is paid the last compensation installment.

Surrogate mothers are modern day miracle workers. They allow individuals and couples who dream of parenthood to finally make their dreams a reality. Surrogate mothers create families and bring the joy of life to those who perhaps thought they could never have children.

Understanding surrogacy and how it can help you in your unique situation is where it all begins. If you want more information, please contact us here.

Disclaimer: When compensation is discussed, we mean the negotiation of base pay and what purchases will be reimbursed. Please note that the state of California requires the surrogate mother’s payment to be held in escrow and paid in installments.