Gestational Carrier or Surrogacy – What’s the Difference?
Sometimes, carrying a baby full-term, on your own, simply isn’t an option. Within the realm of infertility diagnoses, there are certain scenarios in which a woman’s body simply isn’t able to bring a healthy baby to full-term.
Same-sex male couples may lack a uterus, but that doesn’t mean they lack the desire to experience pregnancy, labor and the newborn experience when they’re ready to have a child.
Regardless of the reason, surrogates and gestational carriers offer another option for the modern family.
Surrogate Mother or Gestational Carrier? Is One of These Options Right for Your Family?
There are actually two different ways that another woman can be involved in helping you enjoy the exciting miracle of prenatal development, childbirth and labor. The first involves a traditional surrogate mother, the second involves a gestational carrier.
Traditional Surrogate. A traditional surrogate is used when a woman cannot carry a baby to full term on her own, or for same-sex fathers or individuals who want to be a part of their child’s life from the moment he or she is conceived. In either case, a woman donates her own egg. Typically, this egg will be fertilized using intrauterine insemination (IUI) and may involve the use of fertility drugs.
Once the baby is conceived, the surrogate mother carries the baby to full-term and the parents-to-be are kept informed and in touch every step of the way. If you live in close proximity to the traditional surrogate, you may also participate in prenatal visits, ultrasound appointments and so on.
Gestational Carrier. A gestational carrier donates her womb and her body, rather than the egg, in order to help you become a parent. Some women simply aren’t able to carry a baby to full-term on their own. This can occur as the result of a partial or full hysterectomy, anatomical abnormalities, injuries or illness that have left the body too weak or physically compromised in a way that makes pregnancy impossible. In other cases, a woman may experience repeat miscarriages or failed IVF cycles, even though her eggs seem viable.
In these cases, the biological mother’s egg is fertilized by sperm and then transferred to the gestational carrier’s womb via in vitro fertilization (IVF). In cases where the mother’s eggs aren’t viable, a donor egg can be used. The resulting fetus will spend 36-40 weeks incubating in the gestational carrier’s womb, ready to be welcomed by your loving arms. As with a traditional surrogate scenario, the gestational carrier maintains an open relationship with the parents so the parents can be actively involved in the baby’s development and present when the baby is born.
How Do I Find a Traditional Surrogate or Gestational Carrier?
There are several ways to find a traditional surrogate or gestational carrier. In some cases, our clients have relatives or friends who are willing to help out. Otherwise, your fertility clinic will be able to connect you with surrogate and gestational carriers their clients have used in the past or with reputable surrogate agencies.
If you do opt to go with a family member, friend or friend-of-a-friend, we highly recommend you work with a legal professional who specializes in surrogacy to cover all your bases. It is also advised that you, your partner and potentially the surrogate meet with a counselor so the deeper emotional and psychological aspects of gestational surrogacy are addressed.
How much does it typically cost?
Price ranges vary but, on average, gestational surrogates found through an agency can cost upwards of $100,000 dollars, and that figure does not include your own potential fertility treatments. However, there are plenty of private options available, and when you work with a surrogate directly, the costs can come down considerably. Your medical insurance carrier may offer cover a portion of the gestational surrogacy costs, depending on your provider and your plan – so research those options as well.
Please feel free to contact the Reproductive Resource Center to learn more about traditional or gestational surrogacy and to explore whether or not it is an option for you.
Image courtesy of atibodyphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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RRC has over 200 years of combined experience. As a leading reproductive health, infertility, and in-vitro fertilization (or IVF) center based in Kansas City, we're proud to have the highest level of expertise available to our patients.