Challenges Faced by Lesbian Mothers

Pregnant woman making a heart over her belly

In 2005, Showtime's series The L-Word broke new ground by documenting partners Bette and Tina in their quest to become lesbian mothers. But, the reality is that lesbian parenting has been on the rise for quite some time. In fact, lesbian mothers are now so common that the phenomenon has its own slang: the "gayby" boom.

Becoming a Lesbian Mother

Obviously, pregnancy requires some extra effort when you're in a lesbian relationship. Basically, you have three options:

  • In many cases, lesbian women choose to get pregnant via artificial insemination with an anonymous sperm donor. However, this method can be very expensive and is often not covered by insurance. Many couples are also concerned that they may not have complete information about the donor's medical history.
  • Another popular option for lesbian mothers is to ask a gay male friend to serve as the sperm donor. However, if you're not willing to resort to the at-home "turkey baster method," you might have some trouble finding a medical professional who will agree to provide assistance. FDA rules prohibit sperm donation by men who have had homosexual sex within the past five years.
  • The third option for lesbian women who wish to become pregnant is to have intercourse with a male partner. But, if you're not careful, this arrangement can cause unnecessary tension in your relationship with your lesbian partner.

Celebrating Your Pregnancy

If you're already pregnant, it's time to celebrate your baby's impending birth! However, it's important to be aware of some of the special issues faced by lesbian mothers.

Dealing With Doubt

Most women in a lesbian relationship are used to occasional disapproving glances. However, the announcement of your pregnancy may stir up some additional doubts about your lifestyle. Be prepared to have nosey strangers ask, "Who is the baby's father?" Don't be surprised if you get more than a few negative comments about the impact your sexuality will have on your child.

If you're pregnant, seeking out the companionship of other lesbian mothers may provide the support you need. These women can reassure you that your baby will be able to get all the love he/she needs, regardless of whether or not the biological father is present. You can also check out websites such as Families Like Mine that offer support and encouragement for children of gay or lesbian parents.

Making It Legal

If you're in a committed relationship, you may want to visit with an attorney to see what steps can be taken to ensure your partner has legal rights to your child. For example, some states will allow the non-biological parent to adopt her partner's baby. If this it not possible where you live, you'll at least want to set up a co-parenting agreement for you both to sign. To learn more about becoming a lesbian mother, check out The National Center for Lesbian Rights, which may be able to provide useful information about making sure your legal interests are protected.

Sex During Pregnancy

Just like heterosexual couples, many lesbian couples worry about the safety of sexual activity during pregnancy. But, although doctors once thought lesbians were more likely to have miscarriages than other women, experts now believe there's no reason to avoid intimacy while you're expecting.Generally speaking, sexual activity is perfect safety during a normal pregnancy. However, your doctor may advise against certain activities if you are considered a high-risk pregnancy. If you have questions about what is and isn't acceptable, discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider.

For more information about pregnancy and intimacy, check out The Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy for Lesbians.

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Challenges Faced by Lesbian Mothers