Gestational Surrogate

Definition - What does Gestational Surrogate mean?

A gestational surrogate is a woman who carries and delivers a child that she is not biologically related to (as opposed to a traditional surrogate, someone whose egg was used in the pregnancy she carries). In both situations, the woman carrying the pregnancy is doing so for another individual or a couple who are called the intended parents and will become the legal parents of the child at birth. There may be financial compensation offered for performing this service depending on the surrogacy agreement.

A gestational surrogate may also be called a gestational carrier.

FertilitySmarts explains Gestational Surrogate

The factors that may result in the need for a gestational carrier include:

  • Hysterectomy
  • Fibroids
  • Uterine cancer or cervical cancer
  • Endometriosis
  • Other medical conditions, including lupus, diabetes, or heart disease
  • Lifestyle considerations, such as a high-risk job or personal preference
  • Gestational carriers may also be used for male same-sex couples that are using a donor egg.

Due to the variance in situations precipitating the need for a gestational carrier, each individual or couple’s preliminary experience may look different.

Some couples may recruit a gestational carrier from their personal lives, while others may select one through an agency or clinic. This process involves legal counseling, medical testing, and psychological screening to ensure all parties are prepared for the process, exchange, and guidelines. This preliminary mediation ensures that each party’s best interest is in mind, including the intended parents, the gestational carrier, and the child. This discussion may stipulate requirements for the carrier during the pregnancy, financial contributions from the intended parents, and dictate the abdication of parental rights from the carrier following delivery. The formalization of these details is typically considered to be part of a gestational surrogacy arrangement.

The surrogacy process with a gestational carrier typically begins with the egg retrieval process. The woman who is donating the eggs, whether it is the intended mother or an egg donor, undergoes routine ovarian induction treatment to enhance the number of eggs available for retrieval. Once the eggs are retrieved they are fertilized with sperm from a semen sample, either from the intended father or a donor. Any resulting embryos develop for a period of 2-5 days and then the most promising embryo(s) is transferred to the gestational surrogate's uterus where ideally implantation within the uterine lining and a successful pregnancy follow.

Throughout the pregnancy, the gestational carrier typically must adhere to the guidelines developed by herself and the recipient parent or parent, as outlined in the contract. This may regulate the food and drink she can consume, activities she may partake in, how frequently she attends doctor's appointments and more.

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