For most women, carrying their own baby is the ultimate joy, seen time and time again in movies, on TV and in magazines.
More and more women, however, are turning to surrogates to carry their babies, not because they cannot conceive, but because they do not want to.
It's a trend many are calling "social surrogacy" and one that was recently highlighted in an article in the May issue of Elle magazine.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for women to have more choices," said Dr. Saira Jhutty, CEO of Conceptual Options LLC, a California-based surrogacy agency.
Jhutty's agency matches surrogates with women who have nonmedical reasons for not wanting to carry their own babies. The women who come to her agency have a variety of reasons for wanting a surrogate, from not wanting a pregnancy to interfere with their careers to being afraid of what pregnancy will do to their bodies, Jhutty said.
"We have people who are afraid of being pregnant," Jhutty said. "Some people work in an industry where image is very important so they don't want to have to go through the changes that happen to a woman's body when they get pregnant."
But the choice is still a touchy subject, despite the rising interest in "social surrogacy."
"Women are really guarded about issues involving their bodies and surrogacy because they are afraid of being judged," said Leslie Steiner, author of "The Baby Chase: How Surrogacy Is Transforming the American Family."
The cost is another issue that might give women pause. With surrogacy running $100,000 or more per child, it's not for everyone.
"You have to ask yourself why you are doing this," said Dr. Vicken Sahakian, medical director of the Pacific Fertility Center in Los Angeles. "Is there real benefit for bypassing the beautiful experience of carrying a child?"
- Family Health