Gestational surrogacy has become an increasingly popular option in California for couples unable to have a child. Doctors implant an embryo into a woman who carries the pregnancy, surrendering her child to the intended parent or parents after giving birth.
While surrogacy can be a wonderful way of giving a couple the gift of a family, there are very real downsizes to surrogacy from the carrier’s perspective. Surrogacy and donation agreements are frequently presented as “win-win” arrangements, but a potential surrogate mother should be aware of both sides of the story.
To prepare the surrogate mother to receive the embryo, she will be injected with hormones to prepare her body to carry the child. While these drugs don’t always cause problems, they increase the risk of several serious conditions.
Women taking these drugs face an increased risk of certain types of cancers and sterility. Additionally, a woman who has once taken these drugs may experience premature menopause, as their ovaries may stop naturally producing certain essential hormones.
Carrying a child to term is an all-encompassing experience, especially in the later months of the pregnancy. And studies show that a bond begins to form between mother and child before the baby is born.
But in a surrogacy arrangement, the surrogate mother transfers care of the infant to the sponsoring couple, severing that bond immediately. This can be difficult for the surrogate mother to reckon with emotionally.
Furthermore, in many surrogacy arrangements, the surrogate mother will go from receiving immersive care and monitoring leading up to the delivery, then find herself cut adrift and alone immediately afterward. Pregnancy and childbirth are physically demanding and take a toll on the body. From a mental health standpoint, this can be a perilous time, and many surrogate mothers receive no support.
Surrogacy can be a wonderful thing. But as a potential surrogate mother, it’s critical to understand the best-case picture and the potential downside and risks.