The psychological well-being and prenatal bonding of gestational surrogates

Lamba, Nishtha ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2595-5076, Jadva, Vasanti, Kadam, Kunal and Golombok, Susan (2018) The psychological well-being and prenatal bonding of gestational surrogates. Human Reproduction, 33 (4) . pp. 646-653. ISSN 0268-1161 [Article] (doi:10.1093/humrep/dey048)

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Abstract

STUDY QUESTION
How does the psychological well-being and prenatal bonding of Indian surrogates differ from a comparison group of mothers?

SUMMARY ANSWER
Surrogates had higher levels of depression during pregnancy and post-birth, displayed lower emotional connection with the unborn baby, and greater care towards the healthy growth of the foetus, than the comparison group of mothers.

WHAT IS ALREADY KNOWN
Studies in the West have found that surrogates do not suffer long-term psychological harm. One study has shown that surrogates bond less with the foetus than expectant mothers.

STUDY, DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION
This study uses a prospective, longitudinal and cross-sectional design. Surrogates and a matched group of expectant mothers were seen twice, during 4–9 months of pregnancy and 4–6 months after the birth.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS
Semi-structured interviews and standardized questionnaires were administered to 50 surrogates and 69 expectant mothers during pregnancy and 45 surrogates and 49 expectant mothers post-birth. All gestational surrogates were hosting pregnancies for international intended parents.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE
Surrogates had higher levels of depression compared to the comparison group of mothers, during pregnancy and post-birth (P < 0.02). Low social support during pregnancy, hiding surrogacy and criticism from others were found to be predictive of higher depression in surrogates post-birth (P < 0.05). Regarding prenatal bonding, surrogates interacted less with and thought less about the foetus but adopted better eating habits and were more likely to avoid unhealthy practices during pregnancy, than expectant mothers (P < 0.05). No associations were found between greater prenatal bonding and greater psychological distress during pregnancy or after relinquishment.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION
All surrogates were recruited from one clinic in Mumbai, and thus the representativeness of this sample is not known. Also, the possibility of socially desirable responding from surrogates cannot be ruled out.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS
As this is the first study of the psychological well-being of surrogates in low-income countries, the findings have important policy implications. Providing support and counselling to surrogates, especially during pregnancy, may alleviate some of the psychological problems faced by surrogates.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)
This study was supported by the Wellcome Trust [097857/Z/11/Z] and Nehru Trust, Cambridge. K.K. is the Medical Director of Corion Fertility Clinic. All other authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Item Type: Article
Sustainable Development Goals:
Theme:
Keywords (uncontrolled): cross-border, surrogacy, India, depression, prenatal bonding, quantitative research, health policy, pregnancy, depressive disorders, fetus, infant, mental disorders, mothers, parent, personal satisfaction, prenatal care
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
Item ID: 35281
Depositing User: Nishtha Lamba
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2022 08:55
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2022 08:55
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/35281

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