How Does A Surrogate Mother Get Pregnant?
Most of the conversations regarding surrogacy in the USA focus on the benefits and financial aspects of the process for the surrogate mother. At the other end of the spectrum, the conversation focuses on how intended parents can make their dreams come true with a surrogate baby. What gets missed many times in these conversations is a focus on the actual scientific process of impregnating the surrogate mother.
In the following sections, the information will focus on two things. First, there will be some effort made to look at the surrogacy definition and what is a surrogate. Second, details about the fertilization process will be discussed in some depth.
What is a Surrogate Mother?
A surrogate mother is a woman who voluntarily agrees to carry an unborn child to term on behalf of an intended parent or parents. In most cases, surrogacy in the USA provides mutual benefits to both sides of the surrogacy process. The surrogate gets personal fulfillment and fair compensation while the intended parent or parents get the beloved baby they want to care for in earnest.
There are two types of surrogacy. A traditional surrogate is a woman who donates her egg cell as part of the surrogacy process with the sperm coming from the intended father or a donor. With gestational surrogacy, the gestational carrier (woman) will carry an unborn child created from the intended mother’s egg cell and the sperm of the intended father or a donor.
The primary difference between these two kinds of surrogacy is as follows: the intended mother will not have a genetic connection to the baby through traditional surrogacy but will have that coveted genetic connection with gestational surrogacy. If possible, most intended mothers prefer working with a gestational carrier.
How Does a Surrogate Mother Get Pregnant?
At the heart of the entire surrogacy process is the actual pregnancy. There are a lot of wrong assumptions about how does a surrogate mother get pregnant. Setting aside all of the erroneous assumptions, there is a universal process by which the magic happens.
From a scientific perspective, the process is almost the same whether it involves traditional or gestational surrogacy. The only material difference is from whom the egg cell will come, be it the surrogate, the intended mother, or in some cases, an egg donor. Here is a step-by-step description of how does a surrogate mother get pregnant.
Selecting the right surrogate plays a very important role in the surrogacy process. It has to be a woman who meets the fertility clinic’s criteria for serving as a surrogate mother. Some of the key criteria include:
- Age requirements: between 21 and 40
- Body Mass Index (BMI) Requirements: between 20 and 32
- Must have delivered at least one healthy baby with no history of complications
- Must be in good physical health
- Must be in good mental health
- Must have an acceptable level of financial security
- No history of drug or alcohol abuse
- Preference given to women already raising a small child in the home
Once the surrogate has been contracted to go through the surrogate pregnancy, the process can start in earnest.
The first step toward fertilization is the prescribing of fertility medications to prompt the egg provider to ovulate and produce as many egg cells as possible (more on this later).
After a sufficient amount of eggs has been created, the fertility doctor goes about harvesting as many of the healthy eggs as they can. Not all eggs are healthy, which is why the process calls for the egg provider to create multiple egg cells. Harvesting is a very delicate procedure that requires the surrogate to be sedated while the fertility doctor searches the reproductive area for the egg cells.
After harvesting the eggs, the fertility doctor will place them in an incubator. The process calls for the egg cells to be monitored for up to about 2 weeks. This provides sufficient time to identify good and bad egg cells.
After egg cells have been deemed acceptable or unacceptable, the unacceptable egg cells are removed. Meanwhile, the sperm donor’s sperm cells are introduced into a petri dish with good egg cells. The hope is multiple egg cells will become fertilized.
After fertilization has taken place, the embryos are monitored for up to five days to ensure the fertilization will last. When good embryos are identified, the implantation process can proceed.
The implantation takes place through a process called “in-vitro fertilization or IVF.” The process is managed through a catheter. The catheter contains at least one if not more embryos in a small amount of fluid. Implantation starts as the catheter is placed in the womb of the surrogate. A syringe is then inserted into the catheter for the purpose of directing an embryo into the surrogate’s uterus.
That brings everything to the final stage. At this point, the inserted fertilized egg will hopefully attach to the uterus and life begins. If the initial embryo doesn’t attach to the uterus properly, a second embryo will be given an opportunity. This final stage will continue until conception is verified or the process is aborted due to possible health issues.
Delivery of the Baby – Concluding the Surrogate Pregnancy
After the requisite 9 months of pregnancy, the baby will see its first light of day. For the intended parents, this is a monumental event. It’s that long-awaiting point where a dream becomes a reality.
For most surrogates, the delivery of the child is somewhat bittersweet. Sure, they can be very proud of the fact they just helped deserving parents get that beautiful baby that they have long wanted. There is also the potential for a little melancholy, something that is very easy to understand. After all, surrogates carry the babies in their wombs for 9 months. It’s hard for them not to bond with that little life living inside of them.
Here’s the good news. Surrogates are fairly compensated for the entire process. They are given plenty of emotional and mental support from both the intended parents and officials from the fertility clinic. At the end of the day, it ends up being a big win for everyone concerned.