For this assignment – you will need to re-watch the GoogleBaby documentary on YouTube (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQGlAM0iWFM)
Medical Risks of Surrogacy
In the modern world, technology has widened the traditional boundaries around the thought of family. One of the most recent advancements in reproduction is surrogacy, where a female who, for various reasons, is not able to have children, seeks the services of a fertile woman who carries their offspring for the entire pregnancy period (Kumar, Inder & Sharma, 2013). As seen in the documentary, the childless couple is often a wealthy and western one that, steered by the heavy restrictions and high prices in their homeland, decides to move to developing nations, where the legal environment is friendlier and costs are comparatively lower. In India, particularly, many clinics offering surrogacy services have popped up and many impoverished women, bearing in mind that the pay is seemingly good and sufficient to change their lives, are more than ready to engage in surrogacy. In the documentary, for instance, one of the couples assert that they want to do surrogacy so that they can buy a house ("Google Baby," 2012). According to multiple studies, surrogacy is an effective conception method. However, one of the major questions that arise in the midst of this recent trend is, does commercial surrogacy pose emotional and medical risks to the surrogate mother? Yes, commercial surrogacy poses notable emotional and medical risks to the surrogate mother.
Perhaps, opting to become a surrogate mother is one of the biggest and life-changing decisions a woman can make. Carrying another person’s child is not only emotionally taxing, but it is also associated with trials and risks of a natural pregnancy; with a likelihood of increased complications from legal contracts and IVF. In the documentary, Dr. Naina Patel notes that surrogacy is associated with various risks and thus, her clinic supervises the whole procedure. Dr. Naina asserts that, in some instances, the surrogate mother may have to undergo caesarian delivery, excessive bleeding may also be experienced, and in the worst scenario, death may result ("Google Baby," 2012). Therefore, it is important for a surrogate mother to understand the medical and emotional risks associated with commercial surrogacy prior to committing to months of fertility medications and carrying a child who will be taken away immediately after birth.
Just like normal pregnancies, surrogate pregnancies are associated with medical risks such as swelling, heartburn, morning sickness, weight gain and additional uncomfortable side effects. More serious side effects including the likelihood of damage to the reproductive system, hypertension, and gestational diabetes may also be seen (Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 2012). In some cases, as with normal pregnancies, preterm labor or surrogacy miscarriage may occur. Hence, the surrogate mother should make regular contacts with the doctor, take enough rest, precisely follow recommendations, and take the required medications. It is also important to note that gestational surrogacy is associated with minor medical risks which mainly emanate from IVF treatments (Deonandan, 2015). Since surrogates are required to IVF medications, including home-based fertility injections, there are chances that the surrogate may suffer from slight needle bruises and temporary allergies.
Emotional Risks of Surrogacy
As the surrogates take medications to increase their odds of getting pregnant and regulate their menstrual cycle, they may also undergo increased pre-menstrual syndrome effects such as mood swings and headaches. The embryo transfer process is associated with few risks including bleeding and slight cramping. As the doctor Dr. Naina indicates, it is always essential to ensure a frequent contact with the doctor. In some rare cases, the surrogate may develop infections that are treatable using antibiotics. It is also worth noting that surrogacy may involve carrying multiple babies. In other words, surrogates ought to be knowledgeable of the risks associated with a triplet or twin pregnancy. Such risks include increased chances for Cesarean section, placental abruption, low birth weight, and preterm labor. To reduce the risks that go hand in hand with surrogacy, the surrogates are required to follow the schedules and recommendations of the doctor ("Google Baby," 2012). While the side effects may not be unusual, updating the doctor on the condition at hand is one of the easiest actions a surrogate can take to reduce the medical risks.
Besides the medical risks associated with surrogacy, there are also some emotional risks of the same. While pregnancy alone can be a tasking process, a number of women consider surrogacy to be emotionally problematic as, eventually, they will not carry the child home after delivery (Vora, 2013). Similar to the normal pregnancies, surrogates face the risk of depression during and after the whole process. The surrogate may be overwhelmingly happy and excited for the intended couple, but some strong emotions of loss and grief following the delivery of the child. Such feelings make it necessary to seek the services of a mental health professional who has a good understanding of surrogacy counseling to establish expectations and boundaries for post-birth contact. In addition to the aforementioned emotional effects, it is worth noting that surrogacy presents some effects to the family. If, for instance, a female wants to become a surrogate, there is need to abstain from sexual activities during the process (Kirby, 2014). As such, the surrogate needs to engage the family members in this life-changing and important decision.
To summarize, being a surrogate is a fulfilling experience and an excellent chance to reward a childless couple. However, as indicated in this paper, a surrogacy decision comes with its fair share of emotional and medical risks. This being noted, it is essential for the surrogate to conduct a thorough research about surrogacy and what it entails prior to embarking on this life-changing decision. At first, the risks that come along with surrogacy may be intimidating, but the positives of helping a childless couple to form a family far outweigh the emotional and medical risks mentioned in this essay. To minimize such risks, the surrogate needs to closely associate with an experienced surrogacy professional who is capable of responding to each and every problem that comes along. As seen in the Google baby documentary, every surrogacy case presents its unique issues. Hence, it is important to extensively consult with the doctors, the fertility clinic, the family, and the intended parents.
Deonandan, R. (2015). Recent trends in reproductive tourism and international surrogacy: ethical considerations and challenges for policy. Risk management and healthcare policy, 8, 111.
Google Baby. (2012, March 24). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQGlAM0iWFM
Kirby, J. (2014). Transnational gestational surrogacy: Does it have to be exploitative?. The American Journal of Bioethics, 14(5), 24-32.
Kumar, P., Inder, D., & Sharma, N. (2013). Surrogacy and women's right to health in India: Issues and perspective. Indian journal of public health, 57(2), 65.
Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2012). Increased maternal cardiovascular mortality associated with pregnancy in women with Turner syndrome. Fertility and sterility, 97(2), 282-284.
Vora, K. (2013). Potential, risk, and return in transnational Indian gestational surrogacy. Current Anthropology, 54(S7), S97-S106.