Surrogacy or gestational care is a family building option for those who want a child with genetic ties and have not had success with other “first-line” assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments. Surrogacy, in which a woman carries and gives birth to another woman’s baby, has a long history, dating back as far as the Old Testament story of Sarah and Hagar.
Traditional and Gestational
Two types of surrogacy - traditional and gestational - are practiced today:
Traditional surrogacy: a woman called a “surrogate mother” carries an embryo conceived with her own egg and the sperm of a male who, with his partner, wants a baby. Traditional surrogacy can be done via intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Gestational surrogacy: the surrogate, called a gestational carrier, gives birth to a baby conceived with an egg and sperm of a couple or a donor egg and/or sperm. The majority of surrogates today are gestational carriers. With gestational surrogacy, IVF is used to fertilize the eggs in a laboratory. If the fertilization is successful, a doctor transfers some or all of the resulting embryos (often 2 or 3) into to the surrogate’s uterus. If all goes well, the surrogate/gestational carrier delivers the baby and immediately relinquishes him/her to the parent(s).
Legal contracts are drawn up between the intended parents and the surrogate/carrier. The Abington Hospital is especially sensitive to this form of reproductive services. The name of the baby will reflect the intended parents' names on the birth certificate. This is not the case in many states and parents must often go through a “formal” and lengthy adoption process.
Who Uses Surrogacy?
Candidates for surrogacy are:
- Couples and single/gay women who have had multiple miscarriages, or difficulty conceiving and/or carrying a fetus to term. Surrogacy enables them to have a child genetically related to one or both.
- Gay male couples who want a child with a genetic connection to one partner.
- Couples or single women in which the woman has no uterus or a congenital anomaly of her uterus but has intact ovaries.
- Women who have medical contraindications to carrying a pregnancy where it would not be safe to expose them to the additional physiological stresses of carrying.