UK lesbian couple welcome world's first two-womb baby

Donna and Jasmine Francis-Smith and their newborn, Otis.
Donna and Jasmine Francis-Smith and their newborn, Otis. Photo credit: Supplied

A lesbian couple have become the first in the world to welcome a child through a cutting-edge "shared motherhood" practice, in which the fertilised egg is incubated in both mother's wombs. 

IVF experts at the London Women's Clinic launched the initial concept of "shared motherhood" in 2011, where one partner contributes the egg while the other carries the pregnancy. More than 100 babies have been born to lesbian couples using this practice.

Now, the clinic has taken the technology to the next level. 

The fertilised egg is incubated in one partner's uterus, rather than an artificial environment. The egg is incubated for the first 18 hours following fertilisation before being transferred to the other partner's uterus to implant and begin a pregnancy.

It has been revealed that British couple Donna and Jasmine Francis-Smith welcomed the world's first baby born from the intrauterine approach in July. His name is Otis.

"The procedure really made me and Donna feel equal in the whole process," Jasmine said.

The incubation capsule, known as AneVivo, allowed Donna to take a major role in the pregnancy as the egg provider and capsule carrier. The embryo, which grows into a 'blastocyst', was then transferred to Jasmine for the duration of the pregnancy.

"The AneVivo method neatly brings together the contributions of the biological and birthing mothers in creating their baby, a source of trememdous satisfaction to many of the lesbian and heterosexual couples we see," consultant gynaecologist Dr Giuseppina Lamanna said.

The AneVivo procedure, developed by Swiss company Anecova, is now available to same-sex couples, heterosexual couples and single women undergoing IVF at the London Women's Clinic.