Donor Conception

Types of surrogacy – the 101, with BeParent

Annabel Preston, contributing writer  |   27 Mar 2023


Over the past decade, the number of parents having babies via surrogate has almost quadrupled.

With celebrities like Kim Kardashian having openly worked with surrogates, more and more people are exploring this opportunity to grow their families.

Surrogacy is undoubtedly on the up, but it can still be a complicated and sometimes overwhelming topic when first explored.

Here is our 101 guide to the different types of surrogacy and what they involve.

Traditional vs gestational

The first place to start with surrogacy is by looking at the two core types: traditional and gestational. Intended parents (IPs) would need to address which type they would like to pursue before starting the process. So what is the difference?

Traditional

Traditional surrogacy (also referred to as “full” or “genetic”) is where a surrogate agrees to carry the IP’s baby using her own eggs as a donor. So, the IPs would not need to search for an egg donor but be matched with a surrogate who is willing to complete a traditional surrogacy.

Compensated (paid) traditional surrogacy is illegal in many countries, making gestational surrogacy by far the more common option.

Gestational

This form of surrogacy is the more commonly practised and refers to a process where the surrogate has no biological connection with the baby she delivers. Using IVF, the baby is often biologically related to at least one of the IPs. Conceived using an embryo created in vitro, the process includes using the intended parent’s or parents’ genetic material (eggs and/or sperm) and/or the genetic material of a donor or donors.

Be Parent provide the gold standard of care in gestational surrogacy – connect with their team for first steps and in-depth support.

Key differences

Whenever there is a choice, there are always pros and cons to explore. Let’s explore some of the key differences between the two types of surrogacy and see how they compare:

Medical process

First off, gestational surrogacy uses in vitro fertilisation (IVF), as opposed to traditional surrogacy which uses intrauterine insemination (IUI). IVF requires a surrogate mother to take special hormonal medications to prepare her uterus for egg retrieval and embryo transfer.

Waiting

Waiting time for traditional surrogacy is longer than for gestational as surrogates tend to prefer the latter. Many agencies also don’t work with traditional surrogates due to potential complications.

Cost

In general, gestational surrogacy tends to work out as more expensive than traditional. This is largely down to the medical process. IVF is more expensive than IUI, and for traditional surrogacy, there is no need to involve fertility treatment.

Risks

Traditional surrogacy can cause more emotional and legal risk than that of gestational. A traditional surrogate will be biologically related to the child, which can present specific legal risks, as well as increased likelihood of emotional bond – and, in rare cases, a surrogate seeking to change their legal agreement with the IP.

The subtypes

The decisions don’t stop there. On top of gestational and traditional, we also have altruistic surrogacy, independent surrogacy and commercial surrogacy with agency support (the form of surrogacy you’ll work with at Be Parent).

Let’s dive deeper.

Altruistic

This type of surrogacy is where a woman agrees to become a surrogate without compensation. Most surrogacy arrangements include an agreement where the surrogate is compensated for her time,  as well as any extra expenses the pregnancy may have caused (such as medical bills). With altruistic surrogacy, however, the surrogate will not accept payment other than perhaps medical costs. This type of surrogate is very often someone that the intended parents already know such as a friend or relative. This is actually the only legal form of surrogacy in countries such as Australia and Canada.

Independent

Like traditional surrogacy, independent surrogacy can be a riskier choice than altruistic. An independent surrogate is someone who works without the support of an agency. Again, this is probably someone who knows the intended parent/s.

This form of surrogacy is less common, because a third party can be invaluable during this unique process. If or when complications occur, having an agency there means that both sides can be supported.

Commercial surrogacy with agency support

For agencies like Be Parent, this form of surrogacy involves the highest level of compensation for the gestational carrier, but with the expert support of an experienced agency to guide and facilitate at key points in the journey.

The Be Parent team, for example, offer specialised care which incorporates medical, accountancy, legal and counselling departments.

Plus, IPs will be working with a personal coordinator throughout the process.

Is surrogacy for you?

Being a surrogate is an option that is open to women who have successfully carried at least one baby to full term.

Whilst pregnancy can bring its challenges, many women find the experience to be filled with nourishment and fulfilment.

If you are no longer looking to expand your family but would like to go through the process of pregnancy again, would you consider becoming a surrogate?

Whether you are interested in surrogacy as an intended parent looking to match with a surrogate or would be interested in becoming a surrogate yourself, connect with Be Parent to book your initial consultation free of charge.

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