Are You Ready to Become a Gestational Carrier?
If you’re reading this, it’s probably because someone you care about very much has asked you to carry his or her child. Or, maybe you’ve tried every fertility treatment available and none have worked. A Gestational Carrier is another fertility treatment option available, and is worth learning more about. Whether you’re the parent-to-be or the carrier-to-be, one thing is certain, you’re likely feeling a mixture of excitement and fear of the unknown.
Your concerns are valid and your anxiety is normal – agreeing to become a gestational carrier or to use a gestational carrier is a big step for everyone involved. By learning more about this surrogate process, you are sure to feel more confident moving forward with this treatment plan. In this article we will be touching on common questions about working with a surrogate such as the following:
- What is a gestational carrier?
- Gestational carrier vs. surrogate: what’s the difference?
- What is the process and the cost associated with a gestational carrier?
- What is the process for becoming a gestational carrier?
What is a Gestational Carrier?
Understanding the Process
A gestational carrier is not biologically related to the child that she is carrying, but instead is a person that can be hired by an individual or a couple that are unable to carry a pregnancy themselves. Gestational carriers are most commonly used by same sex couples, single men, single women, and couples dealing with infertility. Having a child by gestational carrier is a process that requires legal, medical, and personal planning.
After identifying a possible carrier, a couple must ensure that the carrier is emotionally willing and medically ready to carry their child. This involves getting to know the available carriers through questionnaires, medical tests, and personal & legal interviews. Working with a gestational carrier during your path of becoming a parent involves the following steps:
- Initial Interview: Get to know your gestational carrier on a personal level. The carrier and the couple will need to ensure that they are all on the same page regarding diet, exercise, and overall values before moving forward with testing, legal actions, and selection. In addition to initial questions, understanding and discussing the harder issues, such as birth defects or genetic conditions, are topics that should be brought to attention and can be discussed further during medical testing completed before the procedure.
- Medical Testing: Following the initial interview, medical testing will need to be completed by a fertility doctor. This will ensure that the gestational carrier is healthy enough for pregnancy and will ensure that the carrier and the parents-to-be are a good match.
- Legal Actions: Following the initial medical screening of the process, all parties will then need to seek out legal counseling to complete contracting and compensation. During this phase, the carrier and the parents-to-be will be able to discuss what kind of contact is desired once the child is born. While these conversations can get emotional, it’s important to understand what is needed for everyone involved to feel comfortable. Once everyone is on the same page, you’ll sign the legal agreement and then the embryo transfer procedure will begin with your doctor.
- Planning: Once initial action items are completed, it’s time to start planning! What type of birth plan works best for everyone? Where will the carrier be staying during the pregnancy? And all in all, just getting to know each other as a new life is being brought into the world.
Watching someone else carry your baby or becoming a gestational carrier can both be tough jobs throughout the pregnancy. Luckily there are a variety of resources available when it comes to learning from the surrogates and carriers, the parents-to-be, and even the doctors.
Reading up on the process, reaching out to support groups, and learning more from your doctor are all great ways to prepare you for what’s to come. Learn more about the step-by-step process of working with a gestational carrier with the help of Red Rock Fertility Center!
What’s the Difference Between a Surrogate & a Gestational Carrier?
The words surrogate and gestational carrier are often used as holding the same meaning, but in reality they are very different fertility treatment plans. A surrogate is a woman who uses her own egg and is inseminated with the sperm of the father. This would result in the child being biologically hers. A gestational carrier is a woman who carries the embryo created through IVF using the mother’s egg and the father’s sperm. This would result in the child having no genetic link to the gestational carrier.
Becoming a Gestational Carrier
What to Expect as a Surrogate or Carrier
Once you become pregnant as a carrier, what can you expect? Fortunately, a gestational carrier cycle is not much different from a traditional pregnancy after the embryos have been transferred. You’ll go to an OBGYN regularly, have ultrasounds, get blood tests, and undergo other medical screenings to assure that the pregnancy and baby are getting everything they need.
Perhaps the biggest difference between a traditional pregnancy and a carrier pregnancy is that you will complete all of these steps hand-in-hand with the individual or couple that the baby belongs to. Because pregnancy is exhausting on its own, this constant companionship may be tiring and equally supportive at times. You’ll always have someone to call or to lean on when the pregnancy makes you sick, emotional, or exhausted.
Becoming a gestational carrier involves a lot of medical testing, emotional and physical investments, and time. When deciding to become a carrier, there are a variety of qualifications that must be met. While many clinics differ when it comes to requirements, some of the standard qualifications include the following:
- Age requirements: older than 21 and younger than 37.
- You must have carried at least one pregnancy to term resulting in a healthy pregnancy and birth.
- Must be in good health.
- Cannot be on any government assistance programs.
- Does not participate in smoking, drinking, or other drugs.
- Married carrier spouses must also agree to the pregnancy arrangement.
- Must be cleared by a doctor.
It’s important to remember that becoming a gestational carrier involves more medical procedures, a variety of legal contracts, and psychological testing. This is different from a traditional pregnancy because you will be accompanied by the parents-to-be and more appointments may be necessary than that of a traditional pregnancy.
Another hardship of becoming a gestational carrier is to remember that the baby you are carrying is not yours and some of the aspects for prenatal care are up to the parents-to-be. However, remembering that you are giving life to a couple that cannot do it on their own is an amazing feeling! Helping a couple or individual enter parenthood is a gift that can only be given by a certain number of people.
Working with a Gestational Carrier
What to Expect as a Parent-to-Be
Choosing another person to carry your child can be overwhelming, so it’s normal to feel anxious even months after you’ve made your decision and even after the embryos have been transferred. However, the best thing you can do for yourself, your partner, your gestational carrier, and your baby is to simply relax.
Your gestational carrier needs to keep healthy, and additional stress won’t make that easy. Also, you’ll soon realize that your anxiety is put at ease when you start accompanying her to various doctors appointments. Learning about the baby’s growth together is a great bonding experience for everyone involved. As you discuss each aspect of your baby’s health with the doctors, you’ll realize how important of a role you play in your baby’s life, even while in another woman’s womb. But just like any big decision, you should weigh out your pros and cons to understand if this is the best way to grow your family.
- Surrogacy for same sex couples and couples with medical conditions can be the answer after going through years of difficulties getting pregant.
- Working with a gestational carrier allows genetic connections since one or both of the parents will hold a biological relationship with the baby.
- With another woman carrying your baby, you are sure to be involved in all other aspects of the pregnancy. Using a surrogate allows you to take a look at other important steps of the pregnancy and helps you prepare for the baby’s arrival.
- Using a surrogate or gestational carrier is most likely to result in a successful pregnancy.
- Since surrogacy involves the infertility treatment of IVF along with legal aspects, this form of treatment can be a costly one.
- Working with a gestational carrier can be an emotional roller coaster.
Understanding what the process is like from all aspects is the first step toward understanding what treatment plan is right for you and your family. Using a gestational carrier is a big decision, requiring time, financial, and emotional commitments on the part of everyone involved. However, though the process can get stressful at times, a good match between parents-to-be and their gestational carrier can result in a long-lasting friendship and a healthy baby!
Schedule an appointment with Red Rock Fertility Center today and start discussing your options!