Pregnancy and LGBTIQ parents
While having a baby is a life-changing adjustment for any parent, some research has shown that the identity transformation process across the transition to parenthood may be more stressful and complicated for LGBTIQ parents.
This can be due to a number of factors including facing stigma from the community and sometimes friends and families, difficulties around conception, and a lack of specific supports and services for Rainbow families.
Sharing the news
Many same-sex couples report that one of the most stressful aspects of pregnancy is sharing the news, thanks to invasive questioning or assumptions/ignorance around conception.
Telling people we were pregnant was huge as people asked so many intrusive questions about how and about the donor and the dad.
Health consultations and services
Other couples report awkwardness and anxiety when it comes to relating to health professionals, with many stating it felt like having to “come out” each time they engaged with someone new.
We were often mistaken for sisters, which was really weird, annoying and embarrassing. We once presented in an emergency department with a bleed and the nurse, after being told we were partners not sisters said, “Are you sure? You look so similar!”
Couples can also find that inclusive supports and services are lacking. This can lead to feelings of isolation and compound existing stigma.
My wife and I were the only same-sex couple in our antenatal class and it felt like the class was more suited for heterosexual couples/parents to be.
Perinatal Depression and Anxiety
While research into perinatal mental health conditions in same-sex parent is limited, one study found that Lesbian and bisexual biological mothers were significantly more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression when compared with heterosexual women.
It’s important to note that non-biological parents can also experience antenatal anxiety and depression.
Tips to help you cope
Below are some helpful tips and insights provided form others who have been through the journey of pregnancy:
- Research the relevant laws for sperm donation in your state. Ask questions of others who have experienced fertility treatment as same sex couples i.e. through Facebook groups
- Speak openly before and during the fertility or donor sperm process about what you want for your family and which donors may be used for which parent to conceive.
- Find a doctor you really like. Don’t settle. We thought all doctors would be as bad as our first one, and didn’t bother trying to change. When he left the clinic we were assigned a new doctor who was AMAZING. I wish we had her all along!
- Introduce yourself as soon as you walk into a room so that it doesn’t get awkward with people not knowing who your partner is! If you run into any weird situations, give that feedback formally.
- Join a queer support group such as prospective lesbian parents so you have a network behind you. The info and support we gained from this group was invaluable.
- As the non-birthing partner, make it your mission to care for the birthing partner so they have nothing to do or worry about other than caring for the baby and adjusting.