Becoming a Mom: Different Paths to Parenthood

Dirt of the Day

Surrogacy has been a hot topic in the news with the announcement that Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West have hired a surrogate to carry their third child. KKW’s decision was based on her painful and life-threatening delivery experience during the birth of her child, Saint. Kim suffered from placenta accreta, a condition where the placenta grows abnormally, but there are many reasons why you might want to pursue alternative pregnancy options.

Even if you’re not ready to have a child right now, it’s a good idea to learn about alternative paths to parenthood. Often times, achieving pregnancy isn’t easy. There are lots of little, surprising things that might impact your ability to get pregnant. This isn’t something that we talk about much, and many women find themselves frustrated and confused when they begin trying for a baby and find it’s not as simple as expected. Understanding what your options are in case of complications can be an important step towards starting a family.

Millennial women are facing a unique challenge to parenthood as well; they’re not getting pregnant like their mothers and grandmothers. Millennials are more likely to start families older than the generations before them, thanks to a wide variety of factors, including the economy and job market, big student loans, and changes in the way we meet our partners. And that’s all totally okay, but waiting might have an impact on how easy it is for moms to get pregnant when they’re ready for a kid.

When you find it’s time to consider alternative paths to pregnancy, lots of questions arise: How do I find a surrogate? Do I need an egg donor? Will I be able to have a normal family life? Let’s answer some of those questions you might have if you’re hoping to become a parent despite some barriers.

1. In Vitro Fertilization

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process where the egg is fertilized by sperm outside of the womb. For those who are struggling to get pregnant, it’s the most common first option. Once the egg is fertilized, it’s placed back in the uterus and the mother carries the child to term. The success rate of IVF depends on a variety of factors, including your age, lifestyle, reproductive history, and reason for difficulty achieving pregnancy.

IVF is less expensive than other options, and it can be a great option for individuals who have issues like blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, male fertility issues, or certain genetic disorders that impact the ability to achieve pregnancy.

Some considerations for IVF are its cost, the necessary medical interventions to achieve pregnancy, and the increased chance for multiple pregnancies associated with the procedure. Achieving pregnancy through IVF also requires significant time, physical, emotional and financial commitments.

2. Surrogacy

Surrogacy involves hiring a surrogate mother who carries the baby through pregnancy for the parents of the child. Surrogacy is an option for parents who have health issues that might prevent them for pursuing a traditional pregnancy. There are two different types of surrogacy: traditional and gestational. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is artificially inseminated with the father’s sperm, and in gestational surrogacy, IVF is used, allowing an egg from the mother to be fertilized with the father’s sperm, then placed in the surrogate’s uterus.

Surrogate mothers can help couples struggling to achieve pregnancy, or same-sex parents who’d like to start a family. A surrogate might be an eligible family member or friend, or you might find a surrogate through an agency. No matter where you find a surrogate, be sure you chose someone who:

1. Has already had a child, so she understands pregnancy, childbirth, and is emotionally prepared for the challenges of surrogacy.

2. Has had psychological screenings to ensure she’ll be a good fit for surrogacy.

3. Is at least 21 years old.

4. Signs a contract agreeing to terms about her pregnancy, what her role will be, and her release of your child after birth.

Surrogacy can be costly, and it requires a lot of planning and preparation to ensure everyone involved is comfortable, happy, and healthy. It can also come with some complex legal issues, so be sure that everyone is on the same page if you decide to hire a surrogate. However, studies have found that families started from surrogacy or IVF are functioning well and have little differences from their more-traditional counterparts.

3. Adoption

Adoption has long been a great choice to place children with parents who will love and nurture them. Children who are adopted can be newborns or older children, foster children, children from the U.S., or children from other countries. Parents who adopt might be couples struggling to achieve pregnancy for a number of reasons, foster parents, step-parents of a child, family members of children who are up for adoption, or same-sex couples who’d like to start a family.

Research shows that most children who are adopted thrive in the care of their adopted parents. Adoption creates a special bond between the adoptive parents and their child, built upon the love and stability they provide as their child grows to adulthood. The role that biological parents play in the life of an adopted child varies widely from case to case.

Adoption comes with it’s own set of expenses and legal considerations. Most adoptions are facilitated by an adoption agency, which helps pair children with prospective parents and navigate the many steps to adoption.

When you’re ready to start a family, how you get there isn’t all that important to having a happy and healthy life together. What really matters is that you’re ready to support, love, and nurture your child. If you find you’re struggling to achieve pregnancy, there are lots of options available to help you start the family you want. Even if you’re not sure if you want kids yet, it’s a good idea to understand each of these processes. Learning about your options for alternative paths to parenthood will help you prepare in case one of these paths becomes your own.


Guest Blog: Avery Phillips

Avery is a freelance human based out of the beautiful Treasure Valley. She loves all things nature, especially humans. Tweet her anytime, or comment below!

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