A SURROGATE mum who claims she’s ‘addicted’ to pregnancy has described the joy of helping childless couples have their own children as she plans to have a 10th baby.
Laura McCarthy, 33, has four children of her own and has given birth to five more babies on behalf of couples unable to have their own children.
She had her first surrogate baby, a girl, 11 years ago and eight months ago gave birth to surrogate twins, a boy and a girl, for another family.
Each of those surrogate pregnancies came as a result of IVF (In vitro fertilisation) where the would-be parents' egg and sperm were used to create an embryo which was then placed in Laura's womb.
It means that, genetically, none of the babies are hers, she says.
The single mum from Bradley, Huddersfield, said: "I love being a mum, it’s the best job in the world, and I love that I can help someone fulfill their dream to become a parent."
She also says she wants to "end the misconceptions around surrogacy."
Laura recently lost more than five stone in weight with Slimming World so that she can continue having more surrogate babies for those people who are desperate for children of their own.
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"Having had nine babies, and definitely wanting more, I couldn’t risk a tenth baby whilst being so overweight because of the associated risk factors."
Now weighing 11st Laura had always wanted to be a mum growing up and has often felt for
people who longed to have kids but aren’t able to become a parent naturally.
She decided to become a surrogate mum after seeing a TV programme and after having her first two children.
"That unconditional love that I felt, I thought how lucky I was to have that and so thought if I could help others, then why not?
"I wanted others to be able to have that unconditional love for their own children."
She gets to know each family beforehand and stays in touch afterward.
Once the children are old enough to understand they are given more information about how they were born.
"Once they are old enough they will know who I am and that they grew in my tummy."
Soon she is hoping to have a surrogate baby for a single man with a donated egg, although says she hasn't got pregnant yet.
She's happy to talk about her own experiences in order to place surrogacy in a positive light and put right a few misconceptions.
One misunderstanding, she believes, is that surrogate mums become overly attached to their newborn babies.
"People think I would be attached to the baby. Of course, I want to keep that baby safe, but you don't have the same feelings (you have) towards your own child when you are pregnant with someone else's."
She says some people wrongly believe that surrogate mums "get lots of money".
"In the UK, surrogacy is altruistic. Expenses are covered, such as travel and maternity clothes."
UK law states that you cannot pay a surrogate, except for their reasonable expenses.
Some people ask her 'funny questions'.
"They ask 'do you know who you are doing it for? Yes, I would not have a baby for a stranger."
Laura says that what she does is not a service and she is not permitted to advertise, although she is allowed to 'raise awareness'.
"Nowadays there's a really supportive surrogacy community and there are groups on Facebook. The words used are 'intended parents'. It is a community to support each other."
Laura says handing over the newborn baby to the parents is an incredible feeling.
"Once you see the baby in their arms you can see that unconditional love immediately. It is just so worth it. That feeling can be slightly addictive."
Laura, a former nursery nurse, had all nine children at Calderdale Royal Hospital including her own, April, 13, Rowan, 11, Ada, six, and Eira, two.
Now that she has given birth to nine children, some people have started asking about 'double figures', she admits.
"I do get asked that. It is a sensible question."
She says: "I would like to carry on helping people to have their family.
“If my body gets to the stage where it is struggling with pregnancy, or if I get health problems or the birth is not going well, that is where a line will need to be drawn because my children need a mum.
"I never rule anything out, I play everything by ear. I have always coped well with pregnancy and have had straightforward births."
And she says her parents and own children have been supportive.
"It's so normal to my family they would be shocked if I wasn't having more…my mum is my biggest support regarding surrogacy. She supports me in doing what I do."
Her grandparents, however, were shocked at first.
She adds: "Twelve years ago, when I first started to do it, they had a lot of misconceptions. They were a little bit shocked and thought I shouldn't do it. They saw an amazing journey with the parents and how they were respectful of me."
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