With the newest Kardashian West entering the world via surrogate, you might have some questions about surrogacy in general. Here, answers to seven of your biggest questions.

By Liz Steelman
Updated January 16, 2018

On January 16, 2018, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West welcomed a new baby girl into their family via surrogate. In light of all of this, you might be wondering what exactly is surrogacy? In terms of reproductive health and pregnancy—there are no stupid questions. Here, we break down what you might be wondering.

Surrogate mother with parents
Credit: Sandy AKNINE/Getty Images

Why Is Kim Kardashian Using Surrogacy?

If you’re wondering why Kim Kardashian is using a surrogate for her third child, you need to look at her history of pregnancies. While pregnant with her first two children, daughter North and son Saint, she developed a pregnancy complication called placenta accreta that would make carrying baby number three a high-risk pregnancy. For her safety, she decided to use a gestational surrogate for baby number three.

What Is Placenta Accreta?

Placenta accreta is a potentially life-threatening condition that prevents the placenta from naturally detaching and leaving the uterus after birth, as the placenta grows into the womb itself. It is dangerous since it can produce severe bleeding, as a doctor will have to tug at the placenta to detach it. The hemorrhaging can be so severe that it eventually becomes life-threatening.

How Does Surrogacy Work?

When carrying a baby to term is dangerous or complicated for a woman, many families hire a surrogate or a gestational carrier. According to Health, a traditional surrogate uses her own egg and the sperm of the father. A surrogate is the birth child’s biological mother. Over the years, it has become more common for families to use a gestational carrier, but call it a surrogate. So what is gestational surrogacy? In vitro fertilization (IVF) is used to create an embryo using an egg from a mother and the sperm from a father. This embryo is then transferred to the uterus of a gestational carrier, who carries and births the baby. A gestational carrier is not biologically related to the baby.

Which Other Celebrities Have Used Gestational Carriers?

Kim K’s new baby isn’t the only celebrity baby to be born via surrogate. In June 2017, Cristiano Ronaldo welcomed twins via surrogate, as did Million Dollar Listing New York star Fredrik Eklund and his husband Derek Kaplan. Tyra Banks’s son York was born in 2016 with help of a surrogate. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick’s twins Marion Loretta Elwell and Tabitha Hodge were born via surrogate, and Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka’s twins Gideon Scott and Harper Grace were born that way, as well.

Can You Be a Surrogate If You Have Never Been Pregnant?

According to Surrogate.com, most agencies require a women to have carried a pregnancy to term before acting as a surrogate for a couple. This is due to unknowns about the gestational carrier’s health during pregnancy, as well as the emotional toll pregnancy can take.

Can You Breastfeed If You Use a Surrogate?

According to HelloGiggles, it’s technically not impossible. Though it is difficult, the body can be trained to mimic pregnancy through hormones, supplements, and medications to promote lactation. However, even if the body becomes able to breastfeed, the amount of breast milk produced won’t be enough to feed a baby and pumped breast milk via the surrogate or formula will have to be used as well.

How Much Did Kim Pay Her Surrogate?

According to TMZ, Kim and Kanye hired their surrogate through an agency and agreed to pay $45,000 in 10 monthly installments to the gestational carrier and $68,850 to the agency. According to Surrogacy America, the typical range for a gestational carrier is between $35,000 and $40,000. Prospective parents are also required to pay for the gestational carrier’s medical expenses, travel expenses, and attorney fees, if necessary.