What is a Gestational Surrogacy?

If you are considering gestational surrogacy, read on to learn more about the different types of surrogates.

Surrogate Definition

Surrogacy is the process in which a woman carries a child in her uterus on behalf of an individual or a couple (the intended parents).

The woman who carries and delivers the baby is called a Surrogate.

Types of Surrogacy

There are two primary types of surrogacy: Gestational Surrogacy and Traditional Surrogacy. The main difference between them is the genetic link (or lack thereof) with the baby.

Gestational surrogacy (also known as host surrogacy, full surrogacy, or IVF surrogacy) involves having an embryo transferred to the Surrogate’s uterus through a technique called “In Vitro Fertilization” (IVF).

Traditional surrogacy (also known as partial surrogacy, genetic surrogacy, or straight surrogacy) involves the fertilization of the Surrogate’s oocyte (commonly referred to as an egg) via Artificial Insemination (AI) and Intrauterine insemination (IUI).

Nowadays, gestational surrogacy is the most common form of surrogacy practiced in Canada and the United States. Why is traditional surrogacy so rare? It’s rare because of the legalities that arise from the fact that the Surrogate not only carries the baby; she is, technically, its biological mother because she contributed her oocytes.

What Is a Gestational Surrogate(Mother)?

Gestational Surrogate

A gestational Surrogate is a woman who will become pregnant after having an embryo transferred (created through IVF) to her uterus. She then carries the baby until birth. Her participation is limited to gestation and birth.

The embryos will be created by the fertility specialist in one of the following ways:

  • With the eggs of the intended mother and sperm of the intended father
  • With a donated egg fertilized with sperm from the intended father
  • With the intended mother’s egg fertilized with the sperm of a donor
  • With a donated egg and donated sperm

Gestational Surrogacy options

Note that the oocyte may come from either the intended mother or a donor, but not from the Surrogate. This means that the baby will not be genetically linked to the Surrogate.

In essence, a gestational Surrogate is a woman (or carrier as they are sometimes called) who carries a child for intended parents and who has no genetic link with the child she carries.

At this point, it’s important to understand the main differences between gestational surrogates and traditional Surrogates.

What Is the Difference Between a Traditional Surrogate and a Gestational Surrogate?

The terms “gestational Surrogate” and “traditional Surrogate” are often used interchangeably which can confuse. Both Surrogates are women who decide to carry a pregnancy for hopeful parents who cannot carry a pregnancy to term without help.

As noted, a traditional Surrogate not only carries the gestating fetus but also donates her eggs. This means that she will be biologically linked to the baby. In contrast, a gestational Surrogate carries a baby that has been conceived using an egg from a donor or the intended mother, therefore, she will not have a genetic link to the baby.

Is Gestational Surrogacy Legal?

Gestation surrogacy laws vary from country to country and from state to state. For example, in the United States, each state decides the legality of gestational surrogacy agreements.

Luckily, gestational surrogacy is the least legally complicated surrogacy option.

How Much Does Gestational Surrogacy Cost?

The cost of gestational surrogacy will change based on several variables including the number of professionals involved, medical needs, donors (if needed), location, and the previous experience of the Surrogate.

When looking for a gestational Surrogate, one of the main things to consider is whether or not an experienced gestational carrier will improve your odds of a successful pregnancy.

Experienced Versus Non-experienced Surrogate

What is an experienced Surrogate? An experienced Surrogate (sometimes also called a proven Surrogate) is a Surrogate who previously had a successful embryo transfer and surrogacy delivery.

At first sight, prospective parents would prefer an experienced Surrogate because she and her family know how the process works and know what to expect. However, the experienced Surrogate may ask for higher Surrogate compensation even though no clear statistics indicate improved odds if an experienced Surrogate is used.

When you look for a gestational carrier, her age, Body Mass Index (BMI), overall health, and pregnancies will be better indicators of her ability to be a good Surrogate than whether it is her first time or not.

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What Is It Like to Pursue Surrogacy with a Gestational Carrier?

The process varies according to the type of Surrogate chosen. With gestational carriers, the process will be something like this:

  • Find a Surrogate. (You can work with an agency or perform an independent search.)
  • Pass medical and psychological exams and evaluations.
  • Draft the surrogacy contract.
  • Go through the egg retrieval process and create embryos. To create the embryos, the prospective parents will provide their gametes (sperm and eggs. Sometimes, donated sperm or oocytes will be used instead.
  • Transfer the embryo to the gestational carrier.
  • If it implants, the Surrogate will become pregnant. If it does not, it is likely that a new gestational carrier cycle will be attempted.
  • Once the baby is born, the intended parents will have full legal custody – through a pre-birth or post-birth order – as outlined in the surrogacy agreement.

With traditional Surrogates, the process is something like this:

  • Find a Surrogate. (You can work with an agency or perform an independent search.)
  • Pass medical and psychological exams and evaluations.
  • Draft the surrogacy contract.
  • Go through the AI (Artificial Insemination) procedure using the intended father’s or donor’s sperm.
  • If the Surrogate becomes pregnant, the usual pregnancy protocols will be followed. If not, another attempt will be made.
  • Once the baby is born, the Surrogate (who is also the biological mother), may need to legally relinquish her parental rights. Also, the prospective parents may need to complete an adoption process

Of course, this process may vary slightly depending on the country or region in which you are pursuing your surrogacy journey.

Wrapping Up

The gestational surrogacy process can vary by country, individual circumstances, and more.

Before you start looking for a match, you must get in contact with a surrogacy professional who can provide more information about gestational surrogacy requirements, how surrogacy works and what a Surrogate mother is.

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Written by David
I work daily to make surrogacy available to as many intended parents, surrogate mothers and egg donors around the world as possible.
  1. Family support is extremely important in such delicate question as surrogate motherhood.
    It’s not easy to make the decision to be a gestational surrogate. It means you should carry a baby and after 9 months of pregnancy you must give him to his biological parents. Surrogates know all these things but it is difficult anyway.
    I know it from the first hand because my sister was a surrogate, so I believe family support is very important!

  2. I read your blog and how useful! I am researching because I want to become a surrogate too. I always known that I wanted to be a surrogate since I was a teenager. I had my daughter 3 years ago (perfect pregnancy and delivery) and I believe the time is about right for me.

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