What is Surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a practice in which a woman carries a pregnancy and gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the intention of handing over such child to the intending couple after the birth.
Surrogate mother means a woman who agrees to bear a child (who is genetically related to the intending couple or intending woman) through surrogacy from the implantation of embryo in her womb. Surrogate mother carries and cares for the baby during the entire pregnancy period until delivery. As soon as the baby is born, she hands it over to the intending parents
The child born via surrogacy is the natural and genetic offspring of one or both of her/his parents. This is a major advantage of the surrogacy treatment over adoption
Who needs Surrogacy?
Most couples opt for surrogacy in cases when the female partner is unable to conceive and/or complete the pregnancy to term. Fertility experts recommend the surrogacy treatment to couples where it is medically risky for the female partner to conceive and give birth.
Gestational surrogacy is offered to couples when women with either or more of the following issues:
- Genetic absence or malformation of the womb
- Women who have had hysterectomy (removal of uterus)
- Adhesions in the uterine cavity
- Repeated implantation failure
- Recurrent pregnancy loss
- Medical problems including diabetes, hypertension, renal disease where carrying a pregnancy can endanger mother’s life.
- Women on prescribed medications (for some other medical condition) that are not safe to be consumed during pregnancy.
What is the age limit to be eligible for Surrogacy?
- Intending father age limit - 26 to 55 years on the day of Government certification
- Intending mother age limit - 23 to 50 years on the day of Government certification
- Intending woman (Indian woman, widow or divorcee) age limit - 35 to 45 years.
- Surrogate age limit - 25 to 35 years on the day of embryo implantation
Things to note before proceeding with Surrogacy?
- Intending Couple/Woman must be Indian Passport Holders
- Couple must be legally married.
- One gamete (oocyte and sperm) must be from the couple.
- If both gametes are not suitable, surrogacy cannot be offered.
- Couple get parental rights on the child.
- Child is entitled to all the rights and privileges available to a natural child.
- Surrogate must be a relative
- Should have a child of her own.
- Maximum 3 attempts are allowed in one Surrogate for the couple.
- Surrogate must be medically fit for surrogacy.
- No money should be paid for doing surrogacy.
- Surrogate medical expenses must be covered by the couple.
- Couple must arrange 3 years insurance for the surrogate.
What is the initial assessment?
- Detailed assessment of suitability and eligibility for the process of Surrogacy which may include blood tests, ultrasound scan, hysteroscopy etc. to determine why a woman is unable to carry the pregnancy.
- Blood tests and ultrasound examination on the person selected to be a surrogate mother to determine if she is healthy and suitable to carry the pregnancy.
What is the surrogacy process?
- Once the need for surrogacy is confirmed and assessment is completed, documentation is submitted by intending couple to the district medical board.
- The surrogate mother and the couple are reviewed by the board and permission certificate issued.
- Surrogate mother receives hormones to prepare her for the pregnancy.
- Ultrasound scan is performed to determine when she is ready for transferring the commissioning couples’ embryos into her womb.
- After the embryo/s have been transferred, pregnancy test is done around 14-17
- Once pregnant, care is provided throughout the pregnancy until delivery.
- Baby is handed over to intending couple/woman soon after delivery.
Are there any side-effects of Surrogacy?
The surrogacy procedure is performed as a part of an IVF cycle.
The intended mother is prescribed ovulation stimulating medications before the egg retrieval procedure. This may lead to bloating, cramping, headache, breast tenderness, and mood swings. There is small risk of developing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) especially is she has polycystic ovaries.
The embryos that are formed when the eggs and sperms from the intending parents are combined in a laboratory and the embryos made are transferred to the surrogate mother
The pregnancy risks are very similar to any other IVF cycle. Numerous studies have been conducted on the babies born through surrogacy and none has hinted towards any ill-effects on the newborn. No physical or psychological harms have been reported even in the long run
Surrogacy is a long process and this may become overwhelming for the intended parents.
Are there any alternatives to Surrogacy?
In some cases where the issue is with the uterus or the lining, the only alternative is Adoption. Rest of the cases, couple can try further attempts, only after thorough evaluation of reasons behind the failure
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