What to do when having a baby on your own

What to do when having a baby on your own

By Dr Sharon Xian Li, specialist at City Fertility Centre Brisbane Southside

If you have come to the decision that having a baby on your own is what you want, congratulations! We know it can be a hard decision to arrive at. Going it alone may not have been how you thought your story would pan out, but rest assured you are not alone.

Many women are having babies on their own, and loving every minute of it. Famous people, neighbours, professionals, siblings and friends – if you look around, there are people in similar situations everywhere.

In Australia, the number of single women becoming parents without a partner is on the rise. Perhaps this is thanks to the availability of safer clinic-recruited donor sperm, and an increasing acceptance for single women having babies alone.

So what are the necessary steps you need to consider and take when having a baby on your own?

Treatment Options

Firstly you need to understand the various treatment options available to single women using donor sperm. These include:

  • Donor Insemination (DI): With DI, treated sperm is artificially inseminated directly into the woman’s uterus to provide a chance of conceiving. This method for single women usually involves the use of frozen sperm from a donor.
  • In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF): IVF involves the fertilisation of the egg by a donor sperm in an incubator outside the body, followed by transfer of the embryo back into the uterus. This involves a full IVF cycle including an egg retrieval process.
  • Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): ICSI is a specialised form of IVF and involves the injection of a single sperm directly into a mature egg in a laboratory. This method would only be used for single women if the donor’s sperm quality is poor or previous IVF cycles showed a poor fertilisation rate.

Before starting any of the above options, you will need to obtain a referral from your GP to a fertility specialist and book a consultation. At this meeting you will be given a personalised assessment of your chance of achieving a pregnancy and discuss the different options available to you. I always strive from the outset to provide clear and comprehensive information so you feel you can take part in, and make, well-informed decisions.

Choosing a Sperm Donor

A great variety of clinic-recruited donor sperm is now available in Australia, with a range of donor profiles, so you can select your closest match.

To ensure the safety of our patients, all our sperm donors undertake both a semen analysis and a series of pathology tests as part of the routine screening process.

Screening tests include:

  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Syphilis
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) 1+2
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • Cystic fibrosis, karyotype
  • Blood group
  • Fragile X syndrome (FXS)
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)
  • Thrombophilia
  • Full blood count
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea

All our sperm donors have also consulted a qualified fertility counsellor so they fully understand what they are undertaking.

The alternative to clinic-recruited donor sperm is to select a known sperm donor, and your clinic can advise you on the steps involved in this situation.

Preparing for Treatment

There are a number of important steps to follow when embarking on your single fertility journey. These include:

  • Managing lifestyle factors: We strongly advise you to follow a healthy lifestyle before and during your treatment. A balanced diet, regular exercise and limited alcohol is recommended. Before treatment, you will be required to stop smoking and restrict your alcohol consumption.
  • Medical consultation: You will need to attend a consultation with your fertility specialist, where you will learn about the medical procedures involved and have your medical details assessed.
  • Pathology collection: Routine screening tests will be required before starting treatment. You will need to have your blood tested and your results checked.
  • Counselling: It is compulsory for all single women considering using donated sperm to attend a counselling session. This will give you the chance to ask questions or raise any concerns you may have in regards to the treatment.
  • Nurse information session: Before treatment, you will also need to attend a nurse interview. The nurse coordinator will advise you of your treatment, medications and their side effects, and discuss the daily requirements of your program. You will also be required to fill in and sign consent forms.
  • Final review: Before you can start treatment, the specialist and nurse coordinators will perform a final review of the counselling reports, blood tests and consent forms to make sure everything is in order.

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