Background

Traditional and gestational surrogate mothers assist infertile couples by carrying their children. In 2005, a meta-analysis on surrogacy was conducted but no study had examined empathy and maternal–foetal attachment of surrogate mothers. Assessments of surrogate mothers show no sign of psychopathology, but one study showed differences on several MMPI-2 scales compared to a normative sample: surrogate mothers identified with stereotypically masculine traits such as assertiveness and competition. They had a higher self-esteem and lower levels of anxiety and depression.

Methods

Three groups of European traditional and gestational surrogate mothers (n = 10), Anglo-Saxon traditional and gestational surrogate mothers (n = 34) and a European normative sample of mothers (n = 32) completed four published psychometric instruments: the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (empathy index), the Hospital Anxiety and Depressions Scale and the MC20, a social desirability scale. Pregnant surrogate mothers filled the Maternal Antenatal Attachment Scale (n = 11). Statistical non-parametric analyses of variance were conducted.

Conclusions

Environment plays a role for traditional and gestational surrogacy. Surrogate mothers of both groups are less anxious and depressed than normative samples. Maternal–foetal attachment is strong with a slightly lower quality of attachment. Surrogate mother's empathy indexes are similar to normative samples, sometimes higher.