The Miracle of Your Child’s Development
One of the most exciting moments of a surrogacy is the confirmation that the surrogate mom is pregnant. Within 5 days of the embryo transfer process, this new life begins to develop in a rigorous way. The hCG hormone is released into the surrogate’s bloodstream, and the placenta begins to develop. Within 10 days of the embryo implantation, there are sufficient levels of hCG to register on a pregnancy test.
For both the intended parents and the special woman chosen to carry their child, it is a joyful step toward the creation of a new family. From the moment the baby is tucked away safely inside the surrogate mother’s womb, there is an amazing journey of fetal development in the womb for the next nine months.
The surrogate mom may be experiencing nausea, fatigue, lower backaches, and frequent urination in these early weeks of pregnancy. She may even experience headaches due to the sudden rise of hormones or the 50 percent increase of blood flow volume caused by the pregnancy. She could be noticing some mood swings, also caused by the hormonal changes in her body that affect the neurotransmitters in her brain. Around the 10th week of pregnancy, she’ll attend her first obstetrician appointment.
Meanwhile, the baby is growing rapidly. At 4 weeks, it is the size of a poppy seed, but within a week’s time, a tiny heart appears as the circulatory system begins to develop, and the baby starts to resemble a tadpole. Soon, a mouth, ears, and nose begin to appear. By the 7th week, the baby has doubled in size, and his or her arms and legs are developing. At 8 weeks, the baby starts to move around, and the lungs start developing. Tiny fingers and toes grow longer.
End of the Embryonic Period
The surrogate mom may not be showing but, chances are, her waist is thickening a bit. Morning sickness is likely in full swing and will continue for another month or so.
By now, your baby is the size of a grape, and the embryonic “tadpole” tail has disappeared. They eyelids are fused shut, but there are fully-formed eyes beneath them. Weight gain is rapid from this point on, as your baby looks more and more like a tiny person.
It is during this time that experts say is a great time to start connecting with the baby. Some moms start to read to the unborn child at this point. Others tell stories or just speak softly while touching their pregnant stomach. It’s important for intended parents to talk with your surrogate about ways you can connect with your child, even at this early stage.
At 10 weeks, your little one can bend his or her arms and legs, and even has fingernails. The baby has completed the crucially important embryonic stage of development and has entered the fetal development period. Organs and tissues are developing rapidly, red blood cells are being produced, and those little legs are kicking up a storm. The outline of the spine is visible, and so are the tiny peach fuzz hairs starting to appear on the body. At this stage, the baby has grown to about 1¼ inches long.
It’s a Baby!
Nausea and fatigue are probably waning at this point for the surrogate mom, but there are other issues that may take their place, such as indigestion and constipation. It’s important to gain around 1 pound of weight per week, but some pregnant women actually lose a bit of weight due to the nausea associated with early pregnancy. The surrogate mom should avoid any foods that harbor bacteria or parasites, such as unpasteurized cheese, raw eggs, or undercooked meats.
At 11 weeks, your baby is nearly a fully formed, yet tiny, human being. The diaphragm is developing, and the baby is hiccupping, stretching, and kicking. At 12 weeks, reflexes have developed, the baby’s fingers start to open and close, and the mouth begins to make sucking movements. At 2 inches long, your baby’s brain is developing rapidly, as are nerve cells.
At this point, the OB doctor will listen to the baby’s heart. Interestingly, your baby can feel it if someone pokes the surrogate mom’s tummy, and will squirm around when it happens, even though she won’t feel any movement yet. The 13th week is the last week of the first trimester of the pregnancy. The baby now has fingerprints, weighs nearly an ounce, and is about 3 inches long.
The Second Trimester
At this stage of the pregnancy, most intended parents and surrogate moms breathe a sigh of relief, because a miscarriage is much less likely now. If you could see the baby via a sonogram, you’d probably catch him or her sucking on a tiny thumb. The baby is now about 3½ inches long, and weighs around 1½ ounces. At 15 weeks, the baby can sense light, and will move away if someone shines a flashlight into the surrogate’s tummy. And, for the first time, the baby’s sex can be determined through ultrasound. Around 16 weeks, the surrogate is likely to feel the baby move or kick, although some don’t feel movement until the 20th week.
Between now and the end of the second trimester, your baby will blink, hear sounds, and start to perform full-on kicks, often associated with certain times of the day. The baby starts to swallow, and will begin to add baby fat to his or her long and lean body. By the 27th week, your baby will sleep on a schedule. If forced, a baby can survive outside of the womb, although the lungs are not completely formed.
The Third Trimester
The surrogate mother is likely feeling less comfortable during the third trimester development. Trips to the bathroom become more frequent, and there may be some leg cramps due to baby pushing against the nerves in the surrogate’s back.
This is a time for rapid weight gain for your growing baby. Eyelashes appear and vision continues to develop. He or she practices breathing and, at 28 weeks, the baby’s central nervous system can control body temperature. By the 32nd week, your baby has grown to weigh about 4 pounds and is developing a layer of fat under the skin. In just three weeks, the kidneys will be fully developed. Physical development is completed around 39 weeks, and your baby is considered full term. Next stop: Delivery!
Following along with the progress of the pregnancy is an exciting part of the intended parent’s or parents’ journey. If you are the surrogate, it is important to share the little details you’ve observed about the child you are carrying, and sharing them with the soon-to-be parents. If you have questions or concerns, the Center for Surrogate Parenting is here to provide answers, offer support, and ensure your baby is healthy when he or she makes their grand entrance into the world. Learn more about surrogacy on our website.