You’re eager to begin building the family that you and your partner want; but for various reasons such as health or infertility, that hasn’t been possible by natural means. Fortunately, assisted reproductive technology is an option for you and for other intended parents. Before you move ahead with your chosen path, you need to understand with perfect clarity what surrogacy is and what it involves. You also need to know about different types of surrogacy.
The Umbrella Term
By definition, surrogacy means that a woman carries the baby for someone else. It may be for a mother whose uterus cannot sustain a baby, or whose eggs are no longer available or viable, or whose overall health makes pregnancy inadvisable. In all scenarios, the surrogate carries the embryo/fetus throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy. There are two types of surrogacy for you to consider.
The first type of surrogacy is traditional surrogacy. In this method, the surrogate provides the egg as well as hosting the embryo throughout the pregnancy. Through intrauterine insemination, or IUI, the egg is fertilized by sperm from the intended father and conception occurs.
Often, the sperm provided is from the biological father of the baby. In some cases, however, a sperm donor may be involved. Either way, the doctor handles the transfer of the sperm to the surrogate’s uterus during the ovulation period to ensure the maximum probability of a successful conception.
In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is also the baby’s biological mother. This situation requires delicate handling by all parties. If you plan to pursue traditional or gestational surrogacy, make sure that you have a lawyer who is familiar with all of the legal issues, agreements, and other matters than need to be settled prior to conception, throughout the pregnancy, and after the birth. The surrogate mother may feel emotional ties to the child that make the entire process difficult. Although it can work, traditional surrogacy demands openness, clear legal contracts, and plenty of support for the surrogate mother and the intended parents.
Gestational surrogacy is a little more clear-cut, since there is no biological tie between the surrogate mother and the child. Here, conception occurs between the biological mother’s egg and the biological father’s sperm; so the baby is fully related to its parents on both sides. This is made possible via in vitro fertilization, a process in which the egg and sperm are joined in a lab and allowed to develop for a few days. With gestational surrogacy, donor eggs and/or donor sperm can be used.
Often, doctors create multiple embryos in case some are not viable. After the initial few days of development, the doctor transfers one or more embryos to the womb of the surrogate. Ideally, the embryo implants in the lining of the uterus and continues to grow, becoming a thriving baby who is delivered at the end of nine months to its waiting parents. Gestational surrogacy is an excellent option when the mother has viable eggs and the father has viable sperm, but the mother’s body is not able to sustain the pregnancy for various reasons.
Weighing the Options
Now that you have a clear understanding of the terminology, you and your partner can choose the avenue that seems right for your situation. Discuss any variables or concerns with your doctor and your reproductive counselor. Keep the channels of communication wide open with your partner as you enter this new phase of life together.
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About Nicole K. White
As a mother by gestational surrogacy, Nicole is passionate about helping her clients experience the joy and fulfillment of starting or growing a family of their own through third party reproduction. Her knowledge and experience as an attorney and as an intended parent mean she knows firsthand what you will go through and what you will need – understanding, ongoing support, guidance and a smooth process.