What is Surrogacy And How Does it Work?

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When a woman is not able to carry a pregnancy, she is allowed to ask a surrogate to carry the child. A surrogate is someone who will carry the pregnancy for you. Your surrogate will be impregnated through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). When you are a surrogate, you will carry the baby of an individual or couple, after birth you will give the baby to the individual or couple. This is a sensitive matter and will require a legal contract between the surrogate and intended parents before medical treatment can start. Another term for a surrogate is gestational surrogacy. 


How is the Surrogate Impregnated?

The person you asked to be your surrogate will be impregnated through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). The doctor will create an embryo with one of the egg cells of the mother or donor and fertilise it with the sperm of the intended father. The surrogate will not be genetically related to the child since she did not provide the egg cell. Gestational surrogacy is a good option for a couple who has struggled for a long time to fall pregnant. 


When Do Women Consider Gestational Surrogacy?

Your doctor will need to determine if you are suited for gestational surrogacy. A surrogate carrier might be recommended for women who do not have a functioning uterus, women whose uterus is unsuitable for pregnancy due to fibroids or any other medical reason, women who have a medical condition who are at risk if they become pregnant and women who have a history of recurring pregnancy loss. 


Steps to Find a Surrogate Carrier

It is recommended that you make an appointment with a fertility clinic or fertility doctor who can help you make the decision on gestational surrogacy. At this appointment, you will be informed of everything that is involved in the decision, the screenings required, treatment protocols, and program costs. Your healthcare provider will also discuss the social and psychological aspects of deciding on gestational surrogacy. The next meeting will be with a fertility physician to review the medical history of the intended parents. They will also discuss the possible side effects and medical complications. 


How Do I find a Surrogate Carrier?

This can be a complicated situation, doctors and clinics normally recommend that you work with an agency to help you find a surrogate carrier. The agency can help you choose a surrogate carrier and help you with any legal agreements. It is found that surrogate carriers often want the parents involved in the pregnancy. You will need to pay the surrogate carrier for her services. You are also allowed to ask a friend or family member to be your surrogate carrier.


How is the Surrogate Carrier Screened?

The surrogate carrier needs to be a healthy woman between the age of 21-42 (but preferably before the age of 35 to reduce pregnancy complications). She also needs to have a history of a normal pregnancy with full-term delivery without any complications. She should have a BMI of less than 30 and not have had more than two caesarean section deliveries in the past. 


Is a Legal Contract Necessary?

Yes, it is very important that you have a clear legal agreement between yourself and the surrogate carrier about your and the carriers’ expectations during the pregnancy and during the birthing process. 


What is the Risk of Surrogacy?

The risks of becoming a surrogate carrier are common pregnancy side effects such as nausea, fatigue, and breast tenderness. There are other health risks that are more serious such as gestational diabetes, damage to reproductive organs, high blood pressure, and miscarriage. Apart from the pregnancy side effects, there are risks involved with the IVF procedure as well, such as slight bleeding, cramping, and infection. 


Are There Emotional Risks with Being a Surrogate Carrier?

Being a surrogate carrier is much more than just a medical procedure, it is also a personal journey. Some women enjoy being pregnant, but there are emotional challenges when you are a surrogate carrier. You might experience depression during or after the pregnancy. You might experience feelings of loss at the end of the process. Carrying someone else’s baby might create tension between you and your spouse. It might also be a challenge for you to form a relationship with the intended parents. 

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