BMI For Surrogates

The discussion over body weight and the BMI (Body Mass Index) limit is a hot topic issue for both incoming and returning surrogates. While we understand that weight is a sensitive issue for many women, we still need to enforce a BMI limit for a variety of reasons.

Growing Generations works with several different reproductive endocrinologists (RE). These doctors manage IVF cases every day, and most are known as leaders in the field. These doctors have the freedom to set their own surrogate BMI limits. Growing Generations will then work to find a surrogate match with the proper BMI requirements for this doctor’s protocol.

The doctors set these limits for a variety of medical reasons, but the most common include:

  • An increased risk for development of pregnancy hypertension
  • An increased risk for gestational diabetes
  • Difficulty obtaining accurate ultrasounds, due to increased adipose (fatty tissue). This can cause difficulty identifying potential fetal abnormalities
  • Higher likelihood of the need for caesarian delivery

As a general rule, no doctor that Growing Generations works with will routinely accept a surrogate with a BMI over 33. For this reason, Growing Generations will not allow a potential surrogate to move through the application process while having a BMI over 33.9. We allow this higher number for the application process only. The understanding is that the surrogate applicant will begin working to safely lose the necessary weight to reach a 30-33 BMI by the time she is ready to be medically screened, and ultimately transfer an embryo. To be clear, a surrogate will not be able to move forward with medical screening, matching, or embryo transfer until she reaches a BMI of 33.9 or below.

It is for the health of the surrogate and the child she will be carrying that Growing Generations’ defers to the surrogate BMI limits set by the RE’s with whom our Intended Parents work with. The BMI limit set by these doctors is rarely uniform. While some doctors will accept up to a 33 BMI, others require much lower BMI numbers, with some doctors only willing to work with a surrogate having a 30 or lower BMI.

While these limits may seem cold and impersonal, they are set considering the well being of everyone involved. These limits are not meant to make any woman feel badly about her body or her self-image. We understand that a woman can have a complication free pregnancy while maintaining a BMI over 33. We also understand that Intended Parents have a wealth of information at their fingertips telling them that a BMI over 33 can be dangerous. For this reason, Intended Parents often want to take every precaution possible.

Additionally, it is important to note that accurate BMI must be reported during each step of your process. As BMI is calculated using your weight and height, it is a number that will be measured during your medical screening. Inaccurate reporting of your BMI in the stages leading up to screening will prohibit you from moving through the process once you’ve been screened in person. It also paints a negative image of your trustworthiness.

To learn more about BMI or calculate your number, simply type “BMI Calculator” into any Internet search engine. If you have additional questions, don’t be afraid to reach out to your Admissions Specialist.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.