Written by Caroline Shannon
November 14, 2022
Plus, how to use our BMI calculator to see if you meet this surrogacy requirement.
So, you want to give intended parents the gift of building their family, and you’ve just been handed the list of basic requirements to become a surrogate. (Pause to note that we’re so grateful for people like you.) Amongst living in a surrogacy-friendly state and being between the ages of 21 and 43, you notice an item that says you must also have a BMI lower than 32.
Perhaps it sounds like just another number you have to check off on the road to becoming a surrogate, but that doesn’t make you any less curious: What is BMI, and why does it matter to the surrogacy process? Keep reading to learn more.
Before we break down why BMI is important to your surrogacy journey, let’s first discuss exactly what BMI is. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), “body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women.”
But what exactly does that mean, right? The NIH shares the following categories for BMI:
Underweight = <18.5
Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
Overweight = 25–29.9
Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
Using the Nodal BMI Calculator, that means a woman who is 5’4” and weighs 140 lbs would have a BMI of 24 and be considered a normal weight, according to the standards set forth by NIH. Practitioners use BMI as a screening tool to assess overall health and measure how excess body fat may cause current and future health risks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC notes: “Research has shown that individuals with a higher BMI are more likely to experience obesity-related health problems.”
Like many surrogate qualifications, the requirement that your BMI is less than 32 is in place to protect you and the baby. In a 2021 study published in Cureus, researchers noted that “maternal obesity is considered one of the most commonly occurring risk factors seen in obstetric practice.”
Most notably, the study says overweight pregnant women have a 25 to 37 percent higher risk of miscarriage and pregnancy loss. They also face a higher chance of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, postpartum hemorrhage, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT), amongst other serious conditions. Babies, on the other hand, have an increased risk of prematurity, neonatal death, stillbirth, and congenital anomalies and are more likely to develop obesity and metabolic disorders in childhood, according to the study.
So, let’s regroup. You’ll recall that to be a surrogate, your BMI must be below 32. If you aren’t quite sure what that means, take a minute to check out our BMI Calculator, which will consider your current height and weight and help you better understand where you are at. Remember, this number is used as a gauge to keep surrogates and the babies they are carrying healthy and is by no means a reflection of who you are as a person.