Surrogacy 101

You Asked: Tell Me About Gestational vs. Traditional Surrogacy

Written by Caroline Shannon

July 28, 2023

There are key differences between these types of surrogacy—and one of them is biological.

When it comes to carrying a pregnancy for someone else, it is pretty commonplace for the experience to go hand-in-hand with many questions, whether from the involved parties or the casual passersby. 

One of the main questions? What are the differences between gestational surrogacy vs. traditional surrogacy? 

Here, we lay out the specifics of this area of third-party reproduction, as well as details on these two types of surrogacy and how they differ. (Hint: One is a lot more common than the other.)

What are the types of surrogacy?

Let’s dig into the different surrogacy types. When it comes to carrying a baby for someone else, you will hear people discuss gestational surrogacy vs. traditional surrogacy (the former of which we work with here at Nodal). Here’s a bit more about these two different types of surrogacy. 

- Gestational surrogacy: ‍This type of surrogacy occurs when a surrogate carries a baby created from the intended parent(s) sperm and egg or a donor embryo. With gestational surrogacy, there is no biological relationship between the carrier and the baby, and parental rights are assigned to the intended parent(s) before or immediately after the baby's birth.

Worth noting? Gestational surrogacy is most often what people are referring to when they use the term "surrogacy." Again, this is a type of surrogacy in which a surrogate carries a baby to whom they have *zero* biological relations.

- Traditional surrogacy: This type of surrogacy occurs when a carrier provides their egg and has a genetic connection to the child. This type of surrogacy is rarely practiced in the modern-day United States because of the legal, emotional, and legal complexities involved.

Related: Basic Requirements to Become a Surrogate

Explain it to me: What is surrogacy? 

While we chat about the different types of surrogacy, you might have questions about what surrogacy is and how a surrogate carries for intended parent(s).

Here's what you need to know: Surrogacy is a form of third-party reproduction in which a person consents, often by a legal agreement, to carry a pregnancy for the intended parent(s) with the understanding that custody of the child belongs to the intended parent(s)

The TL;DR? Surrogacy is when you carry a baby for someone else, and parental rights are assigned to the intended parent(s) upon birth.

Related: What Disqualifies You From Being A Surrogate?

How does a surrogate become pregnant?

‍A surrogate becomes pregnant through a medical procedure called in vitro fertilization (IVF), a fertility procedure that involves combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory to create an embryo. IVF requires (1) egg donation from the intended mother or an egg donor and (2) sperm donation from the intended father or a sperm donor. The resulting embryo is transferred into the surrogate’s uterus during embryo transfer.

Before embryo transfer, a surrogate will administer fertility medications to prepare their body for transfer, including birth control pills, estrogen, and progesterone injections. A successful IVF cycle leads to a surrogacy pregnancy.

Related: How Does a Surrogate Become Pregnant?

The bottom line.

As we continue to discuss surrogacy on the Nodal blog, you can bet we are referring to gestational surrogacy, which, as a reminder, is when a surrogate carries a baby for the intended parent(s) without any biological relationship between the surrogate and the baby.

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