Surrogate Mother

Definition - What does Surrogate Mother mean?

A surrogate mother is a woman who carries and delivers a child on behalf of another person or persons who are the child's intended parents. The woman usually becomes pregnant through artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF). A person or couple who is unable to become pregnant or to maintain a pregnancy may require a surrogate mother to carry a pregnancy to term.

FertilitySmarts explains Surrogate Mother

A woman who becomes a surrogate mother usually carries the child for a couple or parent who cannot conceive themselves. The person or persons who will receive the baby after it is born are called the intended parents.

There are two different types of surrogacy. The first is traditional surrogacy, in which the surrogate mother's egg is fertilized with sperm and she is the genetic mother of the child.

The second is gestational surrogacy, in which a donor egg or an egg from an intended parent is fertilized through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and then transferred to the surrogate mother for implantation.

Traditional surrogacy is less common than gestational surrogacy because of the legal and emotional implications it carries. However, it is still an option for people who are unable to produce an egg to be inseminated, such as single men, same-sex male couples, and women who do not produce healthy eggs.

There are several reasons a surrogate mother may be required for a woman to have her own biological child. These include:

  • Previous hysterectomy (i.e. the woman has no uterus)
  • Uterine scarring
  • Medical issues that make it unsafe for a woman to become pregnant

In some countries, surrogacy is illegal in all forms. In other countries, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, surrogacy is legal but it is illegal to pay a woman to be a surrogate mother. In some states of the US, it is legal to pay a surrogate mother.

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