Surrogate vs. Gestational carrier – What is the difference?

So many terms!! What do they all mean? Is there a difference?
Surrogate mother, gestational carrier, true surrogate, traditional surrogate, gestational surrogate, surromom, surrogate.

Carrying a Baby for Someone Else. In general, these terms refer to a woman who is carrying a baby for someone else. As a result, the baby she will deliver will be the child of another individual or couple who will be the child’s parents. Those parents will raise the child.

Not Genetically Related to the Baby. In today’s world, gestational surrogate, surrogate, surromom, and gestational carrier refer to a woman who has NO genetic relation to the baby. How is this possible?  When the woman is seen at an IVF clinic and has an embryo transfer. The embryo was created with sperm and an egg from someone else (not from the woman who will become pregnant). The sperm and egg can come from the people will be the parents. Or, the sperm and/or egg can be from a known or anonymous egg donor. Or the sperm or egg can be from one of the parents and the other component is provided by an anonymous or known donor.

Every human on the planet comes from an egg, a sperm, and a uterus! Despite our differences, we all start off from the same three components.

To summarize…. A surrogate or gestational carrier is someone who is carrying a baby for someone else. Nearly always, she is NOT genetically related to the baby. Her DNA was not used to create the pregnancy.


Genetically related to the Baby. The terms true surrogate and traditional surrogate apply when she IS genetically related.  These cases account for less than 1% of surrogate pregnancies. In these cases, the woman who is carrying the baby is providing the egg for the embryo AND carrying the baby in her uterus. She is genetically related to the baby. However, since she is a surrogate, she is still not going to be raising the child. These types of surrogates are not commonly used today, due to legal, social, and emotional challenges. Historically, before modern medicine, this was the only type of surrogacy available.

For those language or history geeks out there, surrogate has its roots in Latin from the surrogare/subrogare. Sub meaning: “to put in another’s place” and rogare meaning “to ask”. The concept of surrogacy goes back to biblical times. Some argue that Mary was the first gestational carrier.

Surrogacy with Forward Fertility. Forward Fertility works with surrogates, surromoms, gestational surrogates, and gestational carriers. These women are not genetically related to the pregnancy. Forward Fertility is a local, surrogacy agency based in Madison, Wisconsin. It is owned and lovingly operated by Christie Olsen, a women’s health nurse practitioner who is here to guide you along the process of being a gestational carrier. If you’re applying to be a surrogate in Wisconsin – don’t miss out: apply at We also work with surrogates in Illinois and women applying to be surrogates in Minnesota.