Having a child through a surrogate mother

Last updated: 12 April 2019

How it works

A 'surrogate mother' is someone who will have a baby for you. If you use a surrogate mother, you would be known as an 'intended parent' or 'intended parents'.

You can use a surrogate if you are single or in a couple. There's information about what to expect on the Brilliant Beginnings website.

You can be matched with a surrogate through surrogacy agencies, like Surrogacy UK or Brilliant Beginnings.


It's illegal to pay a surrogate mother for anything other than 'reasonable expenses'. This covers things like:

  • travel costs
  • treatment costs
  • maternity clothes
  • childcare costs if you have children
  • any loss of earnings

There's more information about what reasonable expenses means on the Brilliant Beginnings website.

To become the child's legal parents you will need to ask a court to make a "parental order".

You need to apply for a parental order within 6 months of the child's birth. The legal parents will need to agree to the order. They can only do this 6 weeks after the birth.

The surrogate mother will be the legal parent of the child when it is born.

The other legal parent is the spouse or civil partner of the surrogate mother if she's married or in a civil partnership. If she's not, the other legal parent is the:

  • intended father or the surrogate mother's unmarried partner if they are the sperm donor
  • surrogate mother's partner if the sperm donor is someone else and the partner agreed to be the other legal parent (gave consent)
There isn't always another legal parent - it might just be the surrogate mother.

You should get legal advice to help you understand what's involved in getting an order. You can also speak to Citizens Advice..

Types of surrogacy

There are two types of surrogacy:

  • straight surrogacy - also known as traditional surrogacy or artifical insemination
  • host surrogacy - also known as gestational surrogacy

Straight surrogacy

The surrogate's egg would be impregnated by the intended father's sperm. This is done by 'artificial insemination' - where the sperm is inserted inside the surrogate.

This can be done at a pregnancy clinic or at home with an insemination kit.

Host (or gestational) surrogacy

The intended mother's (or another donor's) egg would be impregnated by the intended father's (or another donor's) sperm. It would then be inserted into the surrogate's body.

This type of surrogacy would always need to be done in a pregnancy clinic.

There is more information about how this works on the Surrogacy UK website.

Further support

British Infertility Counselling Association (BICA)

BICA offers counselling if you're considering having a child through a surrogate.

You can find a counsellor in your area on BICA's website.

National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT)

The NGDT is a charity that helps people with fertility problems have a family.

Find contact details for NGDT on the charity's website.