WHAT IS A GESTATIONAL SURROGATE?
Gestational surrogacy is the process of carrying someone else's baby to term, despite often having no biological relation to the child.
When using a gestational surrogate, an embryo is created through in vitro fertilisation (IVF), using the egg and sperm of the child's parents, and then transferred to the surrogate.
It's becoming an increasingly popular method for women who struggle to carry a pregnancy to term, male same-sex couples, single parents or anyone who suffers debilitating pregnancy complications.
While commercial surrogacy is illegal in Australia, most states allow for altruistic surrogacy, where someone can volunteer to carry another individual's baby without financial incentive.
In the United States, commercial surrogacy is legal in some states although it is an expensive and complicated process.
Typically, a legal agreement and agreed-upon fee (around the $100,000 mark) is required when selecting a surrogate. In the United States, surrogates can operate independently or through agencies.
WHY DOES KIM KARDASHIAN WEST USE A SURROGATE?
Throughout her first two pregnancies, Kardashian West endured a series of complications that prompted doctors to warn her that a third pregnancy could be potentially life-threatening.
These complications included the debilitating condition preeclampsia (which causes abnormally high blood pressure and can damage the liver and kidneys) and a complication known as placenta accreta, which means the placenta attaches itself to the uterine wall and fails to shed during childbirth. This can lead to major blood loss for the mother during birth.
The latter condition would have classified Kardashian West's third pregnancy as "high-risk" and potentially prevented her from giving birth again.
HAS KIM KARDASHIAN WEST USED A SURROGATE BEFORE?
Yes. The Kardashian Wests hired a surrogate to carry their third child, daughter Chicago, in late 2017.
According to Us Weekly, their chosen surrogate was a San Diego woman in her 20s named La'Reina Haynes, who they found through an agency.
Haynes was reportedly highly experienced and was paid roughly $56,200 (in 10 monthly instalments).
At the time, the celebrity couple also agreed to pay another $6,200 per additional child—as multiple births from surrogacy are quite common.
That was on top of $85,986 deposit given to the agency, meaning that the total sum for one Kardashian-West baby born by surrogacy is $142,186.
According to Us Weekly, the Kardashian Wests also stipulated a series of strict health and wellbeing rules, like "no drinking, smoking or drug use; no hot tubs or saunas; no raw fish; and no handling cat litter".
DOES KIM KARDASHIAN WEST LIKE USING A SURROGATE?
Apparently, yes! In May 2018, she told PEOPLE she found the process rewarding.
"I really, really enjoyed the surrogacy process. I will say, when it came to the breastfeeding time, I was like, 'Okay, this is the best decision I ever made'," she said.
"It's a game-changer, having to not go through [nursing] every few hours. I can spend so much more time with the older kids and getting them used to the baby."
However, she also told Entertainment Tonight that surrogacy had its challenges.
"You know, it is really different. Anyone that says or thinks it is just the easy way out is just completely wrong," she said. "I think it is so much harder to go through it this way, because you are not really in control.
"Obviously you pick someone that you completely trust and that you have a good bond and relationship with, but it is still … knowing that I was able to carry my first two babies and not, you know, my baby now, it's hard for me."