Popular culture tends to focus on a few elements of pregnancy: morning sickness, the growing baby bump, and, of course, mood swings. But that ignores more dangerous, less well-known conditions associated with pregnancy. Up to 10 percent of pregnant US women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes and uncontrolled high blood sugar; untreated, this can result in a difficult delivery, and risks developing into type 2 diabetes years later. Meanwhile, 2-8 percent of women worldwide have symptoms of preeclampsia, a condition involving high blood pressure that can lead to fatal seizures if untreated, can damage the mother’s organs, and increases the risk of chronic disease later in life for the baby.

But even a supposedly normal, healthy pregnancy with no complications can lead to a lot more than just morning nausea. And the ordeal isn’t over when the baby is born; pregnancy changes one’s body permanently, and labor is often traumatic. If it weren’t taken for granted as a natural part of life, pregnancy could easily be considered a chronic illness or disability. Women with pregnancy-related impairments are legally a protected class under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

One way to quantify the full physical and psychological costs of pregnancy is to look at the compensation rates for surrogates, who carry a pregnancy on behalf of prospective parents who, often due to infertility or health conditions that make pregnancy unsafe, are unable to have children themselves. The bar to become a surrogate is high: Most agencies require that a potential surrogate have a child of their own who they are raising. As well as passing an extensive health screening by the agency and being at low risk of complications, these women are likely selected for having had relatively tolerable past pregnancies, such that they consider the compensation worth it, despite the risks.

Yet the base compensation for surrogates generally starts at $30,000 or more, depending on the local state laws. (Medical expenses are paid in full by the parents of the child.) In California, experienced surrogates can earn as much as $75,000. This is before any additional payments to cover housekeeping, lost wages during the pregnancy or due to complications afterward, or other possible costs. Given the high cost of medical care in the US, the effective salary for going through the risk and inconvenience of a pregnancy is much higher.

Read the full article about costs of pregnancy by   at Vox.