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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 July, 2003, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
Surrogate mothers happy in their role
By Martin Hutchinson
BBC News Online health staff in Madrid

Surrogate mothers have few doubts about handing over their babies - and suffer few emotional scars afterwards, claims a study.

Surrogate mother
Surrogacy can be a postive experience
The popular conception of surrogacy is that women who go through pregnancy to provide an infertile woman with a child are frequently reluctant to part with the baby once it is born, and are left with severe emotional problems when they do so.

This has been fuelled by high-profile cases in which the surrogate has refused to give the child to the couple.

One woman said that she never viewed it as handing over the child, instead she was handing back the child
Ms Vasanti Jadva
However, researchers from City University in the UK - one of the few European countries in which surrogacy is legal - interviewed dozens of surrogates and found that the reverse was generally true.

While approximately a third did experience "mild difficulties" in the weeks following the birth, a year later there were only two out of 34 who confessed to feeling emotional twinges when thinking about the baby.

Stranger solution

Four out of five surrogates in the study had never even met the infertile couple previously, yet there were only a handful of reported "conflicts" during pregnancy.

Only "genuine expenses" can be paid to surrogates in the UK, and when asked why they had become surrogates, only one woman said that money was her prime motivation.

The rest said they wished to help childless couples, while others said they either enjoyed being pregnant, or found surrogacy boosted their feelings of self-worth.

Ms Vasanti Jadva, who led the study, said there were no reported problems when it came to handing the baby over to its new parents.

She said: "All of the women were happy with the decision reached about when to hand over the baby and none of the women experienced any doubts or difficulties whilst handing over the baby.

"One woman said that she never viewed it as handing over the child, instead she was handing back the child."

Another researcher, Professor Susan Golombok, said: "One woman reported that just seeing the look on the face of the 'commissioning parents' made it all worthwhile."

She said she was not aware of more than a few cases in the last two decades in the UK in which the surrogate changed her mind and tried to keep the baby.

There are approximately 40 surrogate deliveries in England and Wales each year.

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