Surrogacy is a means of assisted reproduction where intended parents engage the services of viable individuals to conceive and carry a pregnancy that helps the parents grow their families.
Eggs from a surrogate or an intended mother are fertilized with sperm from a donor to create an embryo that is implanted in the womb of a surrogate mother.
This makes surrogacy a good option for men and women who want to have children despite having challenges that prevent them from doing so in the traditional way. Thus, surrogacy has granted millions of people the joy of experiencing parenthood that they would not be able to accomplish on their own.
Based on the nature of this journey, there are some differences between a normal pregnancy and surrogacy. Read on to find out more about how these paths to parenthood contrast and compare to one another.
What happens in surrogacy pregnancy?
After filling out an appropriate application with a surrogacy agency, intended parents are matched with surrogates. This process can take a while because it takes a selfless and special woman to be a surrogate who intended parents feel at ease with.
The biggest difference between normal pregnancy and surrogacy is that the woman who conceives the pregnancy will not end up being the parent of the child she is carrying.
A surrogate has a baby on behalf of the intended parents, resulting in a scenario that necessitates a transfer after birth from the surrogate mother to the intended parents.
The nature of parentage depends on the type of surrogacy chosen. In traditional surrogacy, an egg from the surrogate is fertilized with the sperm of a male donor. While in gestational surrogacy, the embryo from the intended mother is fertilized with the sperm of a male donor. The result is that the child does not have a biological connection to the surrogate mother in gestational surrogacy,
Biological links are present between surrogate mother and child in traditional surrogacy.
Surrogacy Support Systems
In a traditional pregnancy, a woman’s support system includes any life partners and immediate family members. In surrogacy pregnancy, there is a wider range of support systems for the surrogate mother.
This is because they have the help of their own families, the physical and emotional input of intended parents, and the medical practitioners at respective surrogacy agencies and communities.
This community is made up of professionals, parents, and other surrogates who closely relate to the experience and therefore offer valuable counsel and insight to first-time surrogates.
Many surrogacy communities around the world have support groups for surrogates, finding creative ways to link surrogates with other experienced individuals.
Typical pregnancies are not dictated by legal agreements, since there is no significant exchange that is meant to take place after the baby is born.
In surrogacy pregnancies, legal agreements are a necessary element since they help:
- all parties involved to understand and accept the responsibilities, expectations,
- and the general nature of the relationship between intended parents and surrogate mothers.
Unlike conventional pregnancies, pregnant women engaging in surrogacy are compensated for their services.
Recent developments in legislation only permit compensation from intended parents to cover medical costs, costs of living, and lost income experienced during the pregnancy journey.
In traditional surrogacy, mothers are not compensated for their services.
Fertility Treatments (insemination)
There are generally more fertility treatments experienced during surrogacy pregnancy and traditional pregnancies. This is because there is a greater emphasis on preparing the body of a surrogate to ensure higher chances of a successful pregnancy.
Surrogates undergo IVF treatments before becoming pregnant, and therefore experience the edgy effects of hormones before the onset of pregnancy and well into the first trimester.
These hormones can amplify pregnancy symptoms early in the process for some women and is something worth considering for first-time surrogates.
Bonding with the baby
Since the mother who carries the pregnancy does not end up taking the role of parent to a child in surrogacy, there are some challenges when intended parents attempt to bond with the baby after transfer into their care.
Talking to the Baby
Intended parents can initiate the bonding process long before the baby is born. Maternal health experts indicate that developing babies can hear outside sounds from within the womb after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Therefore, intended parents can interact with the surrogate during this period, talking to the mother, and reading a children’s book to allow regular exposure of their voice to the baby.
Such exposure will make a parent’s voice familiar and a quick favorite for the baby to hear once he or she is born.
Applying the Power of Touch
After a baby is born through surrogacy, there is a strong need for an emotional transfer to occur between the baby and the intended parents. In a conventional pregnancy, there is no need for a transfer since the pregnant mother and her family care for a newborn baby.
In surrogacy, the surrogate mother hands off the baby to the intended parents, who then take up the mantle of caring and providing for the baby
The birth process can be a core bonding experience, and intended parents should typically be present for the entire journey. Experienced parents and medical professionals alike recommend skin-to-skin contact with the baby immediately after birth to help intended parents bond with their new child.
After surrogacy, attempts at bonding may feel a little odd and out of place at first. Naturally, this physical contact will become more natural as both intended parents and newborns grow more familiar with each other over time. The bonding process is significantly more straightforward in conventional pregnancy.
Surrogacy is a bit different from typical pregnancies, mainly because more people are involved compared to when intended parents conceive a child on their own. While the processes are different, surrogacy is not inherently any less joyous and worthwhile because the results are broadly the same. Find out more from our surrogacy community to know more about the details of pregnancy within surrogacy.