The short answer is, “Yes.” The long answer is “No.”
Yes, you can be a surrogate mother, even if you have never been a mother before. There is no physical or medical reason why you cannot just as easily deliver another woman’s baby as your own. That was the short answer. And in the short answer lies the seed to the long answer.
The longer answer is that , while you have no physical or medical reason why you cannot just as easily deliver another woman’s baby as your own, you have no idea how easily you can deliver your own. You have no history as a mother. So you have no idea how easily you can deliver another woman’s baby.
You would not want to board a plane where the pilot has never flown before.
You would not want to have an operation performed by a surgeon who has never cut before.
Intending parents do not want their child gestated and delivered in a woman who has never given birth before.
Most reproductive endocrinologists (REs) will refuse to work with a first-time mother. Most fertility clinics and surrogacy agencies will refuse also to work with a first-time mother. For instance, here are three of the criteria that we insist on for any surrogate mother we work with:
- Have experienced a full-term pregnancy and delivery
- Have given birth to a child of your own and raising that child
- Have had uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries
Notice that we want a mother who has gone to term already with her own child, and delivered the child. We want her to have experience raising the child (well, at least for a couple years). And we want a track record of a pregnancy and a delivery free from complications. This is critical to determine the extent to which we can rely on you to be fit as a surrogate mother for another couple.
There is another reason, perhaps less universal, but also important in many instances. A mother who is satisfied with her own child is unlikely to change her mind part-way through and decide that she wants to keep the child she is carrying, after all.
However, if it is the first child, and she develops a newly-discovered motherly instinct – and, yes, the hormones can do all sorts of things to a woman’s body and to her mind – there could at best be stress and emotional issues for the gestational surrogate and the baby she is carrying, and at worst animosity and even legal issues.
It is safer for the intended parents, as well as for the fertility clinic and the surrogacy agency, to avoid dealing with first-time mothers. An experienced mother has a better sense of what she is getting into and is in a more mature position to manage the situation for the benefit of all involved.