More and more lesbian couples are choosing to have babies by means of a fertility treatment option known as 'shared motherhood'. Shared motherhood is a process whereby both women are involved in the process, as one's eggs are used, and the other carries the child.
Professor Nick Macklon explains, "the process involves one partner going through the IVF process to produce eggs, which are then fertilised with a donor’s sperm, before the embryo is implanted into the womb of the other female partner who carries the child." The outcome? One woman is the biological mother of the child while the other is the gestational mother.
In a recent the 6-year retrospective study, published in the journal Reproductive medicine online 121 lesbian couples undergoing shared motherhood IVF treatment (141 cycles) were analysed from August 2011 – December 2016. A total of 172 fresh/frozen-thawed embryo transfers were performed and the live birth rate per receiver was 60% and the twin delivery rate was at 14%.
The study, which is the largest of its kind ever, also looked into why couples were motivated to pursue the treatment. "These reasons largely centred around the desired to equally share the motherhood process," Professor Macklon explains.
"Shared motherhood comes with a number of social, emotional and psychological benefits to both partners. It allows both women to experience motherhood, and allows both women to feel ‘equally related’ and build a bond with the child, something that, while a common experience of heterosexual couples, hasn’t previously been possible for lesbian couples," he says. Plus, their research found many couples then went on to have a second child, and reverse their roles.
Shared motherhood treatment is currently only available at private fertility clinics in certain countries that legally allow the procedure and same-sex marriage. Costs vary but tend to be in the region of £6,000.
However some practitioners say that the treatment carries risks and that it is not cost effective. The removal of eggs does require fertility drugs, along with surgery involving anaesthesia. In addition due to the high cost of treatment, some clinics do promote egg sharing alongside shared motherhood (giving some eggs away to other couples) as a method of part payment. The concern is that egg donation is a big decision and should be considered carefully as any child conceived as a result of egg sharing would be able to make contact when they are age 18. This could potentially be an emotional upheaval especially in the unfortunate event that the persons own fertility treatment was unsuccessful.
Although 'shared motherhood' is a fantastic option for some couples, it does have some risks and can be more expensive than standard IUI or IVF. Its therefore worthwhile noting that Lesbian couples can share the experience of motherhood and bonding with their baby even without the 'shared motherhood' process. There are many ways of creating this close bond, examples include both mothers sharing breastfeeding or shared maternity leave so that equal time is spent with their newborn. Many non-bio mums feel a strong bond towards their newborn baby which often grows the more time they spend together. Lesbian married couples can both be registered on their baby's birth certificate and both be the legal parents regardless of whether the conception was through a fertility clinic or using home insemination with a known sperm donor.
For more information about lesbian parenting and option of choosing a known donor visit www.prideangel.com
Article: 2nd March 2018 prideangel.com