Women strap on bellies to keep surrogacy secret

Many women in India who hire surrogates use fake tummies to keep the surrogacy a secret, the Times of India reports. Women from traditional communities hide the fact that they have employed surrogates, for fear that their in-laws and relatives will disapprove. Instead, they wear a strap-on belly for 9 months to simulate pregnancy. Surrogacy expert Dr Naina Patel, based in Anand, tells of a Chennai couple who opted for an artificial stomach to avoid disapproval from the woman's in-laws. "She did not have a uterus and her in-laws would never have accepted that the child was born through another's woman's womb," Patel told the Times of India.

Hema Inamdar, a maker of soft toys, specialises in fake stomachs. "A woman called from the UK saying she felt she was actually carrying a baby when she wore the tummy," says Inamdar. They come in sets of 3. One set simulates 3, 5 and 7 months' pregnancy. The other simulates 5, 7 and 9 months, with one set costing about 1,000 rupees (US$18). Fertility expert Dr Falguni Bavishi says Indian women who live abroad give in too often to familial pressures.

"A Gujarati from the US took artificial tummies with her after employing a surrogate, so that her in-laws would believe she was pregnant. She told them she had to deliver the baby where the IVF treatment was done, got the baby from the surrogate and went back with her secret intact," she says. ~ Times of India, Apr 29

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