Surrogacy involves a woman agreeing to carry a baby for someone else. It often involves complex legal and medical steps and is illegal in some countries.
Reasons to do surrogacy
Parents may choose this option if they are unable to conceive but want to have children who are biologically theirs. Single parents or same-sex couples may also want to have children this way.
2 Types of surrogacy
There are two types of surrogacy:
- Traditional surrogacy: Through a reproductive-assisted fertility method, such as IUI or IVF, the father’s sperm fertilizes with the surrogate mother’s egg — she then becomes pregnant and gives birth. This way, the baby will get half of the genes from the father and the surrogate mother. In Thailand according to the laws, Traditional surrogacy is not allowed.
- Gestational surrogacy: In this type, the surrogate mother only carries the baby and does not contribute to the genetic makeup of the baby. The mother’s eggs are fertilized with the father’s sperm via IVF. Then, the resulting embryos are implanted into the surrogate mother’s womb. That way, both the father and mother who choose this option can be the biological parents. The surrogate mother simply carries the baby but is biologically not related to the child.
In 2021, only Gestational surrogacy is currently legal in Thailand.
What to consider
Parents can discuss a few details with specialists and lawyers to get a thorough understanding of the process and its implications before choosing a surrogacy option.
Choosing a surrogate mother should be a well-thought-through process involving parents, the surrogate mother, lawyers, and specialists. Since pregnancy plays a crucial part in the baby’s development in the womb, both the parents and surrogate mother should express all their expectations clearly and in writing, under the supervision of a lawyer and a surrogacy specialist. So, regardless of how pregnancy, birthing, and the postpartum period unfolds, all parties have a clear idea of how to deal with possible challenges.
Mental and physical health
Surrogate mothers should be screened for diseases and illnesses that complicate pregnancy. The parents should discuss their expectations of diets and habits throughout the pregnancy with the surrogate mother.
Mental health conditions and support during pregnancy for the surrogate mother should also be considered. Most importantly, parents and the surrogate mother should plan for postnatal arrangements, such as breastfeeding options, so everyone knows their parts in welcoming the baby to the world.
Coverage of expenses related to prenatal care, such as doctor’s visits, prenatal vitamins, and pregnancy clothing, should be outlined clearly among all the parties involved. Birthing and hospitalization expenses, as well as postpartum care, are equally important in ensuring the newborn gets the best care from everyone.
Since surrogacy is a complex issue, here are a few risks you should know:
- Legalities: Legal complications arising from surrogacy can impede the effort in achieving parenthood. Different countries have different laws and regulations governing how to carry out surrogacy — some countries even ban it. So, be sure to consult with your lawyer in the jurisdiction in which you plan to have the surrogate mother become pregnant and give birth. Moreover, long-term legal complications, such as parental rights to the child can add to this complexity if not properly addressed beforehand.
- Health risks: Relying on another person to carry your child increases the pregnancy-related risks factors. The physical health of the surrogate mother and her lifestyle during pregnancy play influential roles in the possibility of pregnancy complications. The birthing process, which also depends on the surrogate mother’s anatomy, is not always predictable.
- Genetics ties: Surrogacy allows women who do not have a functional uterus or for whom pregnancy poses a danger to become the biological mother of a child. Men or same-sex couples who wish to have a baby with their genes can also become parents.
- Greater success rate: Thanks to tedious screening, surrogate mothers are usually healthy. Surrogacy gives greater chances of successful pregnancy and healthy births for parents who have been trying to conceive for a long time but other fertility methods failed to yield successful results.
Dr. Wanwadee Sapmee Panyakat (OB-GYN) (10 December 2021)