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surrogacyNot so long ago, if you were struggling with infertility, had had a hysterectomy or were in a same sex relationship, adoption was considered the only way for you to become a parent.

Not anymore. Surrogacy is one of the most recognised alternatives these days and it has proven helpful for thousands of couples.

What are the options?

First of all, you need to decide what type of surrogacy is suitable for you.

The traditional surrogacy, where the birth mother provides the egg to be fertilised in vitro by the intended father, or the gestational surrogacy, where the birth mother receives the fertilised egg from you or somebody else and she is just carrying it to term.

The first step to take is to find an agency. There are hundreds of them in the UK and they are really helpful. Not only an agency can deal better with your requirements, but you rest assured that they will take care of all the medical, legal and financial matters. At the end of the day, it is a complicated and risky issue, so you need to make sure everybody's rights are respected and no abuse is possible. Besides, an agency can make sure that the surrogate mother will consider the prospective parents' right to get involved during the pregnancy and be there at birth!

How much does it cost?

Although surrogacy for financial reasons is not encouraged, there is an agency fee and most times the prospective parents must support the pregnancy costs of the surrogate mother (medical assistance, foetal checks, compensation for loss of earnings, etc) and get involved in the general well being of the mother. Our calculations, based on information gathered from several surrogacy agencies, suggest between 15,000 and 25,000 for one child.

It is highly recommended that the birth mother and the surrogate parents develop a strong relationship based on friendship and trust for the benefits of both parts. Not only the surrogate mother will rest assured that the baby she's been carrying for nine months will have a proper, loving family to grow up in, but the prospective parents can make sure the surrogate mother has everything she needs in order to give birth to a properly developed, healthy child.

How will we bond?

This is a daunting question for all the adoptive and prospective parents. During pregnancy and birth, there is an emotional and hormonal connection between the baby and the mother, a connection that will have to be somehow forced into the relationship with the new parents.

Of course, we should assume that the strong will and determination of having a baby is enough to be sure that the new parents will have a lot of love to offer to their wanted baby.

Bonding while pregnant
The prospective parents are believed to bond easier and more naturally with their baby after birth, if they keep close before birth, so the baby recognises their voice. They also can take part to ultrasound scans or medical checks, listening to the baby's heart or watching her kicks. They can talk to her, sing to her, read to her before birth, so the baby not only recognises their voice, but she associates it with a feeling of comfort and trust.

Induced lactation
There are also ways to build a more natural relationship between the prospective mother and her baby. One of them could be with induced lactation whereby the prospective mother can actually breastfeed her baby. This is possible because the hormones responsible for milk production (prolactin and oxytocin) are not related to the reproductive system, but to the pituitary gland. Milk production can be stimulated mechanically by the nipple massage over a period of time, with a simple, home use breast pump, in anticipation of the birth. Sometimes, this is boosted by the use of estrogen, in an effort to equalise its high level during pregnancy, abruptly stopped to mimic the hormonal change following delivery and assisted by a prolactin booster. Although the best stimulator is the baby himself.

If you are interested in a comparison between the pros and cons of surrogacy and adoption, see our comprehensive information on child adoption procedures in the UK.