Single Mothers Having a Baby

In the UK women who do not have a partner can legally pursue fertility treatments to give birth to their own children. While a subject of some controversy amongst certain circles, the practice is one which is becoming increasingly popular as methods and techniques in the field have improved.

Artificial insemination

Single mothers choosing to have a baby will find a sperm donor, either through a sperm bank, a private agency or from a man known to them. You will require a donation of sperm taken either straight from the donor or a frozen sample from a sperm bank. The sperm is taken to a lab to be washed and prepared for insemination and is also tested for transferable diseases.

The sperm can be inserted in several ways, using for example a needless syringe. The syringe will insert the semen into the vagina, using a long tube to enable place it as deep as is necessary. This is known as intra-cervical insemination.

Intrauterine insemination involves the semen being placed directly into the uterus, this semen must have been treated to remove unnecessary components to prevent it from being expelled from the body via urine cramping. After the procedure, movement is not recommended for at least 15 minutes.

As they birth mother you will maintain legal rights of the child welfare, even if you took a donation of a fertilised egg and are not biologically related to the child.

IVF for Single Mothers

IVF may be used by women who wish to have a baby on their own without a partner and cannot get pregnant by other means e.g. artificial insemination. Under these circumstances you will need to find a sperm donor, either someone you know or an anonymous donor. However, you may find that the waiting list for donors is a long one unless you use private treatments.

Single mothers taking a donation of a fertilised or unfertilised egg have the option to have the male donor as the biological father on their child's birth certificate, although the donor may wish to remain anonymous. A conventional IVF procedure involves eggs being directly extracted from the follicles and mixed with the collected sperm in a petri dish. These eggs are then incubated to form a fertilised embryo. This embryo will be implanted back into the uterus where it will hopefully implant itself in the womb, resulting in pregnancy.

There are of course variations on IVF available which can increase the chances of pregnancy, but these tend to be used only if initial IVF cycles have failed. As IVF for single mothers tends to involve healthy sperm from a donor, male infertility is not really an issue, so techniques like ICSI are usually only used after an initial attempt at IVF. ICSI involves directly injecting an egg cell with one sperm cell, giving you the best possible chance of fertilisation.

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