Surrogate Requirements

Surrogate Requirements and Qualifications

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Individuals and couples have many choices in how they want to form their family.  Surrogacy is one option that is becoming more common.  We are going to define surrogacy, surrogate mother requirements, and other details regarding the Surrogacy Center of Philadelphia.

“Becoming a surrogate mother was the best decision of my life!”

As one of our surrogate mothers, your comfort and well-being is our top priority. We work hard to make sure you’re paired with the perfect couple or individual for you.


“This agency has the kindest people who go above and beyond to make sure you have everything you need from knowledge to a listening ear. I am a 2-time surrogate and my interaction with this agency has been amazing. They truly care for their surrogates and their intended parents.”

Jessica Spera

“My partner and I had a great experience with this agency. Andrea and her team know what they are doing. They also helped us secure a grant to help with our IVF costs. Their fees are really affordable and someone was always able to answer our questions quickly.”

Tony Sum

What is a Surrogate?

Surrogate mothers are known by several names, including traditional surrogates, gestational surrogates, and gestational carriers. They are women who carry a baby for someone else.  In the case of the Surrogacy Center of Philadelphia, surrogates in our program are gestational carriers – meaning they are not using their own eggs to conceive the baby.  Instead, they are carrying a baby that was created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) by the intended parents.

What Are Our Surrogate Requirements and Qualifications?

When a woman works with our surrogacy program, she must meet the following requirements:

You have to be between 21-42 years old.  Why the age limit?  Pregnancy becomes riskier as a woman gets older.  Safety is always our number one priority for surrogates and the babies that they carry.

2. Uncomplicated Pregnancy History

You must have already carried and parented one or more children, and those pregnancies and deliveries should have been complication-free.  Several dangerous conditions can occur during pregnancy and delivery (pre-eclampsia and premature labor to name a few) that we normally screen for.  Remember, safety first! 

3. Physical Health

You should be in good physical health with a BMI between 20-32.  This is because the hormone medications that one takes during a surrogacy cycle cannot be managed as well once your BMI exceeds 32.  Additionally, obesity increases the risk of pregnancy complications.  That being said, not all chronic medical conditions are automatic disqualifiers.  We will review your medical records thoroughly, including any prescription medications for chronic conditions.  Even if your condition doesn’t impact your ability to carry, the medication you take may not be compatible with pregnancy, so you need to be off of them for an extended period of time before we can safely proceed with your surrogacy cycle.

4.  Mental Health

You must be emotionally stable, motivated to help others, and someone who enjoys being pregnant.  Having past depression or anxiety is not an automatic disqualification, but we want to make sure you are in a great place to start your journey.  You will be evaluated by a clinical psychologist to determine if you have good coping skills, a strong support system, and the ability to communicate your needs.

5. Life Circumstances

You must have a stable living situation.  Surrogates do not have to be married, but they should have a strong support system and safe home.  You also cannot be an illicit drug user or have a criminal history.  Finally, you must be financially stable.  While surrogates in our program are compensated, surrogacy is not a substitute for ongoing household income.  Your journey is a lengthy process, with your base compensation only occurring if pregnancy is achieved.  Surrogacy is not a quick, guaranteed way to make money.

6. Medication Compliance

You have to take a lot of medications during a surrogacy cycle, including some that must be taken by injection.  This includes hormones, antibiotics, prenatals, and other supportive therapies.  Taking your medications in the right dose at the exact time is essential to the success of the cycle.  Don’t worry – you will be trained by a nurse on how to give yourself injections, and you’ll receive a detailed calendar with the timing and dosage of every medication.  However, if you’re the kind of person who has a very hectic schedule and often forgets to take medicine as instructed, surrogacy may not be right for you.

7. Residency

You must reside in the United States.  Our program focuses on surrogates that live in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.  We will work with surrogates in other surrogacy-friendly states, but candidates are considered on a case by case basis.  This is because of the level of personal service that we provide.  We want you to have a great experience and feel fully supported by our staff.  If we think you’d be a great candidate, but you don’t live in our area, we’d be happy to refer you to other programs that we think are fantastic.

Requirements to Become a Surrogate

Am I Emotionally Ready to Be a Surrogate?

One of the most important surrogate qualifications is that the candidate is emotionally ready. There are lots of emotions involved with carrying a baby.  When that baby isn’t yours – the emotions can be complicated.

  • Coping with Physical Changes

To be a surrogate, you must be willing to devote at least a year or more of your life to getting pregnant and carrying the baby to term. You’ve already had at least one pregnancy.  How did you respond to that? How did you feel about potential weight gain, morning sickness, swelling, back pain, heartburn, etc.?  Additionally, medications that are taken to prepare the body for the embryo transfer can cause tiredness, nausea and bruising at the injection site.  All our surrogates say that giving a baby to their Intended Parents is absolutely worth any physical discomfort they experienced, but it’s an important thing to think about.

  • Feelings of Failure or Loss

How might you feel if the first embryo transfer is not successful?  A failed transfer cycle can trigger feelings of loss and failure.  We will work with you and your Intended Parents to come up with an action plan and next steps to try again.  But you have to ask yourself – are you willing to try more than once to get pregnant and are you emotionally ready to experience the ups and downs of a surrogacy journey?

  • Family and Relational Considerations

While you are carrying the baby as a gestational carrier, your family and friends are impacted too.  They need to be emotionally ready for this journey.  Surrogacy impacts the daily routines that you have in your home.  If there are pregnancy complications and you’re put on bed rest, the impacts are even greater.  The Surrogacy Center of Philadelphia offers a number of supports for these circumstances, including psychological support, income replacement insurance, and childcare and housekeeping allowances.  What we want to emphasize is that becoming a surrogate is a family decision, so everyone needs to be on board.

What are the Benefits of Being a Surrogate?

There are many benefits to being a surrogate!  That’s why surrogates in our program often say that this was the best decision they ever made. 

emotional benefits


  • You get the satisfaction of helping others achieve a lifelong dream of having a child.  Without you, this would not be possible.  
  • You get to develop a bond with your intended parents and often become good friends.
  • You get to experience the joys of pregnancy again.
financial benefits of being surrogate


  • Surrogates are paid thousands of dollars.  The average compensation package for a first-time surrogate in our program is over $50,000.  Experienced surrogates are often compensated over $60,000.
  • You contribute to your family’s financial goals – being debt-free, saving for college, buying your first home, taking a well-deserved vacation.
support during surrogacy


  • Our case managers are experienced surrogates themselves and understand what it is like to go through the surrogacy process.  They are available in-person, by email, phone or text.  It is our job to be by your side throughout the entire journey.
  • We only work with attorneys who are experienced in assisted reproduction, a highly specialized area of family law.  We provide you with an attorney to review contracts and assist with parentage proceedings to ensure that your Intended Parents’ names go on the baby’s birth certificate.  There is no limit to how many questions you ask – we have the legal bills covered!
  • Psychological counseling is available during and after your surrogacy journey.  We know that emotions can be complex and your well-being as a surrogate in our program is our number one priority.  
  • All surrogates in our program receive free nutritional coaching to set them up for a successful embryo transfer, a healthy pregnancy, and recovery postpartum.

What Medications are Taken During Surrogacy?

You have to take a lot of medications during a surrogacy cycle.  These medications are slowly weaned off after pregnancy is confirmed, but initially, it’s quite a bit.  

A surrogate is not conceiving naturally, so the fertility clinic will use a variety of medications to stabilize the body and then prepare the uterus to receive the embryo.  This is all time sensitive and surrogates receive a calendar that has daily instructions on medications and dosage. 

The medication prescribed will vary from woman to woman, but here are some examples:

  • Birth control pills – a low dose birth control pill will help regulate your cycle, quiet your ovaries, and help the clinic time your transfer cycle.
  • Doxycycline – an oral antibiotic, makes sure that you don’t have any bacteria in your body that may compromise the cycle. 
  • Lupron – an injectable hormone suppressant, prevents ovulation and shuts down your natural cycle.
  • Estrogen – a hormone that normally is produced by your ovaries, but we quieted them down with birth control pills and/or lupron, so it needs to be given to you in measured doses to steadily build up your uterine lining to prepare for the embryo to be transferred; can be taken orally, by injection, patch or suppository.
  • Progesterone – another hormone that is naturally produced by your ovaries, essential to maintaining the uterine lining and keeping it nutrient rich so that it is an ideal spot for the embryo to implant and grow; taken by intramuscular injection in the hip or buttocks.
  • Prenatal vitamins – It is normal for pregnant women to take prenatal vitamins, including surrogates. They ensure that the woman, as well as the baby she carries, is getting essential vitamins and nutrients for proper growth and development.
surrogate requirements

Why is having kids a requirement?

If you want to become a surrogate, but you’ve never had any children of your own, that’s risky for both you and the parents who want a baby.

If you want to be a surrogate, but you’ve never given birth to a baby of your own, you haven’t experienced the joys of pregnancy or parenting.  A professional and reputable surrogacy center protects your physical and emotional well being.  If you have never given birth, we do not have the medical history that we need to determine if you can carry to term without complications.  As an agency, we also have an obligation to our Intended Parents and must ensure that they are matched with a surrogate who can give them the best chance of going home with a healthy baby.


Learn more about gestational surrogacy compensation

How much do surrogates make?

Surrogates are paid thousands of dollars, plus benefits. First-time surrogates earn a base compensation of $40,000 in addition to receiving health insurance, maternity clothing, and other allowances.  Experienced surrogates can earn at least $45,000 in base compensation.  So the total compensation package with the Surrogacy Center of Philadelphia can be up to $60,000.

How to Become a Surrogate

Please complete our Surrogate Inquiry Form below so we can contact you and discuss our program further.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Surrogacy

Why is BMI important?

Body mass index (BMI) is the measurement of body mass based on weight and height. For a woman who wants to become a gestational carrier, one of the surrogate requirements is that her BMI should be between 20-32.  This is because the hormone medications that one takes during a surrogacy cycle cannot be managed as well once your BMI exceeds 32.  Additionally, obesity increases the risk of pregnancy complications like premature labor, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and stillbirth.

Do I need to have insurance that will cover surrogacy?

Part of the compensation package for surrogates is 100% medical coverage for surrogacy. Some insurance companies provide coverage for surrogacy-related maternity care, and some don’t. Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of the intended parents to cover all of the surrogate’s medical costs.  If you do not have medical insurance or it isn’t surrogacy friendly, a policy will be obtained for you and paid for by your Intended Parents.

Why should I choose the Surrogacy Center of Philadelphia?

The Surrogacy Center of Philadelphia is a professional, friendly, and experienced center for women who wish to be gestational surrogates. If a woman meets our qualifications, we offer highly competitive compensation packages that include base compensation plus many other benefits: 100% medical insurance coverage, maternity clothing allowances, lost wages, childcare and housekeeping, and much more.  We also provide every surrogate with financial advising, nutritional, and psychological support, and assign a personal case manager who is with the surrogate from the beginning to the end of her journey.

I have had a tubal ligation (had my tubes tied). Can I still be a gestational carrier?

Yes, you can still be a surrogate even though you’ve had your tubes tied. Tubal ligation prevents eggs from traveling to the uterus to prevent future pregnancy. However, it doesn’t stop a woman from carrying a baby.  During the surrogacy process, the intended parent’s embryo is transferred into the gestational carrier’s uterus.  The ovaries and fallopian tubes of the gestational carrier or surrogate are not needed.

I am currently breastfeeding. Can I apply to become a surrogate?

When a woman breastfeeds, it naturally delays ovulation and menstruation.  Even if your menstrual cycle has resumed, you must take a variety of medications and hormones for the embryo transfer that are not safe for breastfeeding. Therefore, we want surrogates to have weaned and have at least one menstrual cycle before we begin the medical portion of your surrogacy journey.

What’s the difference between traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy?

There are two kinds of surrogates – traditional or gestational. With a traditional surrogate, the surrogate is providing her eggs for fertilization, as well as carrying the child to term.   Therefore, she is genetically related to the baby. In gestational surrogacy, the intended parents create an embryo either with their egg and sperm or a donated egg or sperm.  The embryo is then transferred into the surrogate.  Therefore, the surrogate mother and the baby share no genetic material.  The Surrogacy Center of Philadelphia only provides gestational surrogacy services.