Top 7 Surrogate Mother Requirements Facts
Surrogacy is an option for parents who would like to have a baby but due to medical conditions cannot conceive or carry a pregnancy.
Surrogacy becomes an option for a woman when she has tried becoming pregnant through a variety of assisted reproduction techniques but has failed. A woman can opt to use a surrogate in case of the following conditions:
• Have medical problems with her uterus
• Has a condition which makes carrying a pregnancy impossible or risky. Such conditions may include severe heart disease
• Had a hysterectomy which leads to the removal of the uterus
Surrogacy has made it possible for parents who are not able to adopt children for one reason or another. Some people cannot adopt children either because of their children or marital status. Surrogacy makes it possible for such people to become parents.
Before any woman agrees to become a surrogate, a surrogacy contract is signed. In the contract, the surrogate mother agrees to take care of the pregnancy and the intended parents agree to take care of the surrogate mother. By taking care of her involves treating the surrogate with respect, ethics and with an appreciation for the services she is providing.
Surrogacy is an ethical act. For the process to be ideal for the donor and the surrogate mother, the following ethical issues are critical:
- The surrogate mother must be provided with 24/7 medical care
- Respect the right to privacy of the surrogate mother
- The surrogate mother must be provided with a safe and clean house to stay
- The surrogate to be given excellent compensation both financially and materially
- Emotional and psychological support should be offered
- Even after the delivery, the surrogate should continue receiving both proper medical and housing services
There are basically two kinds of surrogacy. And they are:
A. Artificial insemination – this is the process through which the donor father’s sperm is injected into the mother with the help of a catheter. Under such an arrangement, the mother becomes the biological mother of the baby.
B. In-vitro fertilization/Gestational surrogates – this is a process through which the couple donor parents produce their egg and sperm and it is artificially fused in the lab and then implanted in the womb of the surrogate mother.
Is Surrogacy Legal in India?
Before 2015, India was a popular destination for hundreds of international intended parents to realize their dreams of becomes parents. But the government of India has since passed new regulations to govern surrogacy in the country.
Today, it is illegal for foreign intended parents to get a surrogacy done in India. However, the regulation allows only Indian intended parents who have been married for not less than five years to get a surrogate to help them.
In December last year, the Indian government passed a surrogacy law which states that:
- Commercial surrogacy is illegal in the country
- Single parents, live-in couples and gay people are banned from getting children through surrogacy
- Only altruistic surrogacy is legal for infertile and needy Indians
- A woman can become a surrogate only once. And this is possible only when she is a close relative of the intended parents. In addition to that, she should be married and has a biological child
- The intended Indian parents should be married for a minimum of five years and should have a certificate from a doctor which shows that they are infertile
Surrogacy Banned in India
The surrogacy Bill of 2016 bans commercial surrogacy in India. The bill bans all international intended parents from obtaining surrogacy services in India. The ban brought to an end the country’s reputation of a “rent womb” for childless international parents.
Before the ban, India used to get USD 400 million per year as revenue from international intended parents. Surrogacy was banned on the following grounds:
• Less protection for surrogate mothers – the business was conducted sometimes under unsafe and unethical circumstances. This exposed the surrogates to harmful results.
• The exploitation of vulnerable surrogate mothers – many women were being exploited by agents who took bribes from wealthy individuals to jump the surrogate queues. To avoid this, the new law requires the surrogate to be a close relative of the intended parent
• Lack of knowledge – most of the women who were involved in surrogacy were poor and uneducated. This drew the surrogates to be subjected to the surrogacy process over and over again.
• Health concerns – most of the surrogates underwent the surrogacy process over and over again which was a danger to their health. Most of these mothers had become “baby-making machines” hence affecting their health.
• Lack of support – most of the surrogates did not get the much-needed support during the surrogacy process. Besides that, most of them were forced to live away from their families until the baby is born. Most of the time, their families were not supported nor themselves. This affected many women emotionally.
The cost of surrogacy in India is determined by a number of factors. They are explained below:
(i) If you are using the egg of the surrogate and for renting the womb, the cost is INR 900,000. This cost is when the surrogacy is performed within India. If the surrogacy process is done outside the country, additional expenses will be taken care of by the intended parents.
(ii) If the intended parents give the egg, to rent the surrogate womb is INR 1000,000. This cost is for renting the womb and the surrogate will not ask for additional costs.
(iii) When a frozen embryo is used, the surrogacy will cost INR 920,000. INR 900000 is for renting the womb and INR 20000 is for the frozen embryo.
(iv) When the embryo is shipped, the cost for the surrogacy process is INR 940000. The INR 900000 is for renting the womb and INR 40000 is for shipping the frozen embryo.
The cost of surrogacy is typically the same internationally but the difference is brought about by the cost of living, legal and medical expenses.
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Surrogacy Process in India
The process of applying for a surrogate mother to the delivery of the baby is the same in all Indian clinics. The process is as outlined below:
(i) Filling the surrogacy application form
(ii) The potential surrogate mother is subjected to an array of medical and psychological evaluation
(iii) The third step is the fertility treatments to the surrogate mother
(iv) Surrogate contract signing. If the potential surrogate is found fit, she will sign a surrogate contract with the intended parent. A surrogacy contract is a two-way contract which the surrogate agrees to take care of the pregnancy and the intended parent to take care of the surrogate mother.
(v) After the signing of the contract, the medical procedures will start. The initial tests include blood testing, ultrasound scans. If necessary the surrogate will be injected with the fertility boosting hormone. The hormone helps to strengthen the endometrium of the surrogate hence making her more receptive of the intended parent’s embryo.
(vi) The embryo is transferred
(vii) After the surrogate mother becomes pregnant, she will be put under the care of an obstetrician who is chosen by the surrogate’s insurance company.
The intended parents should be in regular contact with the surrogate throughout the pregnancy.
Requirements of a Surrogate Mother
For you to become a surrogate mother, you must meet strict medical conditions. In addition to that, you must meet personal and emotional requirements as well. Here under is a list of 7 surrogate mother requirements that a prospective surrogate mother must meet.
1. Must have at least one successful natural pregnancy
The topmost requirements for a surrogate mother are the ability to demonstrate that she is fertile. Besides that, she should be able to carry a pregnancy to term successfully. By bringing at least one healthy pregnancy for your child to term, it shows that you are healthy.
Apart from showing that you are healthy in carrying a natural pregnancy to term successfully, it enables you to understand what is involved during pregnancy. You already know the emotional and physical toll that pregnancy brings upon you.
Raising a child of your own is also a sign that you are emotionally stable and responsible. You must have given birth to your child without any complications to qualify.
2. Healthy Body Weight
A healthy body weight reduces the chances of a mother contacting any complications. A woman who is overweight has high chances of contracting gestational diabetes. Such a health condition poses risks not only to the surrogate mother but also to the pregnancy.
Most of the clinics that handle surrogate pregnancies are very strict about the weight of the surrogate mother. However, if you can modify your lifestyle to meet the desired body weight you can become a surrogate.
Age is a key requirement for surrogacy. Different IVF clinics have different age requirements for surrogates. In general, the required age is between 21 and 40 years. At the age of 21, a woman is emotionally mature to become a surrogate.
However, though the highest age limit is 40, there are exceptional cases where women of 50 years have successfully acted as surrogates. In India, most IVF clinics will only accept women below the age of 35 for surrogacy.
4. No Drugs
To qualify as a surrogate, you must live a quality life. You should not be using any kind of drugs. This means you should not be using either street drugs or even prescription drugs.
In most cases, alcohol and smoking are not allowed. However, there are some clinics that are lenient about occasional drinking. But regular and heavy drinking is a disqualifying factor. The surrogate mother is subjected to regular checkups whether she is using any form of drugs.
Smoking is highly prohibited. This is because smoking is known to lead to stillborn babies, premature delivery and low birth weight. In addition to that, smoking is known to cause a cut off the oxygen supply to the baby. Smoking causes the constriction of blood vessels in the mother’s body. This includes the umbilical cord which supplies oxygen and other nutrients to the fetus.
5. Be Emotionally Stable
Every woman who wants to become a surrogate mother must undergo a psychological evaluation. This is meant to ensure that the mother is emotionally stable to become a surrogate mother. A surrogate should be able to make an appointment, be able to attend it and follow all the doctor’s directions.
In addition to that, she should be able to read and comprehend the legal contract of surrogacy. However, to understand the surrogacy contract, she can use a lawyer. More importantly, a surrogate should be able to take good care of her own child during the pregnancy. This shows not only maturity but also being responsible.
A surrogate should be able to handle the logistics of surrogacy responsibly. This includes being able to take time away from the family and employer during the surrogacy period. She should be able to travel to the clinic for a regular checkup for ultrasound and doctor’s appointment.
The final aspect of emotional maturity is that she should be able to relinquish her parental rights when she delivers the baby.
6. Be in a Stable Relationship
Being pregnant is not an easy task. A woman wanting to become a surrogate should have a family of her own. She should love being pregnant but does not want to keep the baby as her own. All she is doing is helping another person become a parent and make a difference in their lives.
For a woman to achieve this, she needs both emotional and physical support during the gestation period. Good support for the surrogate should be from those close to her. Usually, a husband or family that will be able to help her throughout the pregnancy is necessary.
If the surrogate does not have a spouse or family member to support her, then a network should help. She can get support from other women or even friends. Support of any kind is essential during the surrogacy period.
7. Positive Outlook on Life
A mother to be should be optimistic about life. Most intended parents look for surrogates who are generally positive about life. This kind of positive attitude is crucial during the pregnancy period.
A good attitude helps the surrogate to stay focused on the work she is doing. Besides that, knowing that she is helping others to become parents should give her joy.
A woman with a positive outlook on life takes good care of herself. She eats healthy foods and does exercise regularly. This shows that she regards not only her life but also the life of the baby she is carrying. She should also live in a clean and healthy environment.
Most importantly, an optimistic person will not be involved in illegal activities. Therefore, a surrogate will have no criminal record.
Proper health care is necessary for a surrogate during the pregnancy. All healthcare providers should understand the laws that govern surrogacy. However, the surrogate mother’s wishes should be respected during pregnancy.
Surrogacy is a journey. Patience is paramount. In most cases, it takes up to three attempts to get a stay pregnancy. Once the journey begins, the intended parent should stay in touch with the surrogate. This will help them to bond with the baby while it is still in the surrogate’s womb. To bond with the baby, they should attend the clinic with the surrogate if possible. However, if this is not possible, it will not affect their bonding with the baby. If possible they should be there during the delivery process and ensure a skin to skin contact as soon as possible.
For surrogacy, one of the intended parents must be biologically related to the baby. This can be achieved through one of the following options: egg from the surrogate and sperm from the intended father. Another option is for the egg and sperm from the intended mother and father. Lastly, an egg from the intended mother and sperm from a donor, this is mostly applicable for single parents.