Gestational carriers, sometimes called surrogate mothers, really came to the forefront of infertility treatment beginning in 1978 with the arrival of in vitro fertilization (IVF). They are an alternative approach to parenthood and a viable option for a wide range of patients, especially for women who cannot successfully complete a pregnancy.
A gestational carrier is literally just that: a woman who carries a baby to term for another woman. There is no genetic link between a gestational surrogate and the child she is carrying.
Gestational Surrogate or Surrogate Mothers
In a surrogacy arrangement, pregnancy is achieved through IVF, a process that requires that the cycles of both the genetic mother (egg donor) and the recipient (gestational carrier) are synchronized. During the IVF procedure, the intended parents’ own sperm and egg (or, in some cases, donated sperm and/or egg) are combined to produce one or more embryos. The genetic mother’s ovaries are stimulated hormonally and her eggs are retrieved. They are combined with the intended father’s sperm to produce embryos, which are transferred into the uterus of the gestational carrier. If pregnancy occurs, she carries and delivers the child for the intended parents.
Reasons to Consider Using a Gestational Carrier
Your RMACT fertility specialist can help determine if a gestational carrier is clinically indicated in your case by reviewing your medical history and current diagnosis. Some factors include:
• Uterine abnormalities, including fibroids, congenital anomalies that cannot be corrected, severe scar tissue or previous surgery that would make a pregnancy problematic or impossible
• Women who don’t have a uterus, either because they were born without one or because it has been surgically removed
• Existing medical conditions, such as systemic diseases like severe diabetes, multiple sclerosis and advanced heart disease, that would be exacerbated by a pregnancy and place the mother’s or child’s health at serious risk
• Women with a history of poor pregnancy outcome (repeated miscarriage, incompetent cervix, preterm labor, severe preeclampsia)
• Couples who want their own biological child
• Couples who do not want to consider adoption
• Same sex male couple or a single man
At RMACT, we leave the choice of a gestational carrier to the patient and her partner, although the clinic does screen the surrogacy candidate using guidelines established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) before proceeding with the arrangement.
Choosing a Gestational Carrier
The ideal gestational carrier is a woman who has had a previous uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery, is medically and emotionally healthy and financially stable. Both the intended parents and the surrogate mother undergo medical and psychological evaluation and legal counsel prior to finalizing the arrangement.
Couples have a few options when it comes to choosing a gestational carrier. Some people are most comfortable with the idea of having a woman they already know (family member or friend) carry and give birth to their child. Oftentimes, due to the personal connection, a surrogate in this category does not receive compensation for her services, although the intended parents usually cover her medical expenses.
More surrogacy arrangements occur between strangers who are facilitated by agencies, attorneys, or websites that match prospective parents with gestational carriers. Under this legal arrangement, the surrogate mother is paid a negotiated fee for her services in addition to having all her medical expenses covered.
The decision to pursue a gestational surrogate arrangement should be made thoughtfully after due consideration and counseling. Your RMACT fertility specialist can help sort out your options and offer his or her professional advice.
If you’d like more information regarding gestational surrogacy, contact us.