Gestational Surrogate

Definition - What does Gestational Surrogate mean?

A gestational surrogate is a type of surrogate who carries and delivers a fetus that she is not biologically related to (as opposed to a surrogate, someone whose egg was used in the conception she carries). In both situations the woman carrying the pregnancy is doing so for another woman or a couple who will become the legal parents of the child when it is born. There may be a financial stipulation or price attached to performing this service.

A gestational surrogate may also be called a gestational carrier.

FertilitySmarts explains Gestational Surrogate

Conditions 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 biologically parent, the gestational carrier, and the fetus. This discussion may stipulate requirements for the carrier during the pregnancy, financial contributions from the intended biological parents, and dictate the abdication of parental rights from the carrier following delivery. This is typically considered a “gestational carrier contract.”

The gestational carrier process 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. This occurs prior to the retrieval in order to enhance the number of eggs available for harvest. Once the eggs are retrieved they are fertilized with sperm from a sperm sample, either from the intended father or a donor. The embryo develops for a period of 2-5 days before it is implanted in the carrier’s uterus.

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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