How Does Pregnancy Work in Surrogacy?
One of the most common questions that both intended parents and potential surrogates have when first considering surrogacy is how pregnancy is achieved in the surrogate. While surrogacy may feel like an act of magic on an emotional level, this incredible feat is made possible through advanced reproductive science. Thanks to modern fertility technologies and techniques, individuals and couples who are unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy on their own are able to forge ahead on their path to parenthood with the help of surrogacy.
The Reproductive Science That Makes Surrogacy Possible
Surrogacy is when a woman carries and delivers a baby for someone else. There are two types of surrogacies: traditional and gestational. Traditional surrogacy is when the surrogate, in addition to carrying and giving birth to the child, provides the egg that will lead to the child’s creation. Although traditional surrogacy was practiced for thousands of years, it is no longer a common practice due to the legal, ethical, and emotional ramifications of such an arrangement.
Today, the most common form of surrogacy is gestational surrogacy, which is when the child is created using an egg and sperm from the intended parents or donors. A gestational surrogate (also sometimes referred to as a gestational carrier) has no genetic ties to the baby.
Gestational surrogates become pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Using hormone medications, mature eggs and follicles are extracted from the intended mother or egg donor and combined with sperm from the intended father or sperm donor in an embryology lab. In some cases, fertility specialists may also recommend additional medical procedures, such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) or preimplantation genetic testing (PGT). ICSI is an advanced IVF technique that is sometimes used in cases of severe male factor infertility and involves taking a single sperm and placing it directly inside an egg using a very small needle. PGT is a process that involves taking a biopsy of cells from embryos so that they can be screened for chromosomal abnormalities and other genetic conditions.
Meanwhile, surrogates may be required to take certain prescription medications. Some medications are used to adjust or coordinate the surrogate’s menstrual cycle, while others are used to prepare the uterus for implantation and pregnancy. These medications may be administered orally, via injection, with a suppository, or with a patch. The exact medication regimen will be different for every surrogate.
Once a healthy embryo or embryos have been created and the surrogate’s uterus has been prepared, it’s time for the embryo transfer. During this step, the fertility doctor inserts a catheter into the surrogate’s womb via the vaginal opening. The catheter is attached to a syringe, which contains the embryo. The embryo is then passed from the syringe through the catheter, and into the surrogate’s uterus. The embryo transfer procedure is a very quick and relatively painless process.
If the procedure is successful, the embryo will implant itself in the uterine lining where it will continue to grow and develop into a baby. About 10 days to two weeks after the embryo transfer procedure, the fertility clinic will perform a pregnancy test on the surrogate to determine whether implantation has been successful and pregnancy has been achieved.
Support During Surrogate Pregnancy
From a medical standpoint, the surrogate’s pregnancy will be very similar to a standard pregnancy. However, because becoming a gestational carrier is such a unique experience, having extra support during pregnancy is extremely important. At West Coast Surrogacy, we provide our surrogates with access to nutritional programs, wellness education, and mental health counseling services to help ease the stresses of surrogacy and pregnancy. Every surrogate pregnancy should be as stress-free as possible, and our staff is trained to assist all parties in the best way we can.
Getting Started with Surrogacy
Whether you’re an intended parent or want to become a surrogate, West Coast Surrogacy is available to answer any questions you may have about the process, including surrogate pregnancy. Contact us today to learn more.