Being a lesbian mom means navigating a unique set of challenges and joys. Knowing every journey is different, here is some of what you might expect.
One of the inevitable parts about being a lesbian mom is that you’re going to get a lot of ridiculous questions ‒ some will make you giggle, and others will make you fume.
“Who’s the real mama?” and “How did this happen?”, may we say: 😡😥😡😥
While hetero couples with babies are seldom asked how they conceived their children, queer couples tend to be faced with this invasion of privacy.
Yeah, we don’t think it makes for great dinner-time conversation, either.
On top of this, as much as society has made advancements in terms of LGBTQIA+ rights, the stigma is still prevalent.
And queer parenting often means running into a whole lot of uncalled-for judgment around your child’s well-being.
As if the task of parenting weren’t challenging enough, this means that being a lesbian mom may come with its fair share of preaching and teaching.
(If you need cheat notes, head here for an overview of 79 scholarly articles that all agree that queer parenting does not harm children in any way. Not only that, children of LGBTQIA+ parents appear to do better in school.)
We’ll do what we can to help.
We’ll start by taking you through your options of becoming a lesbian mom and then talk through some ways to navigate being one.
Disclaimer: For transparency, the person who wrote this article doesn’t identify as a lesbian mom ‒ we are looking to connect with someone who better reflects this identity, but in the meantime, we’ll be sharing experiences and advice from lesbian moms in the Peanut Community.
In this article: 📝
- Trying to conceive as a lesbian mom
- Adoption resources for lesbian parents
- Being a lesbian mom
- Resources for lesbian moms
Trying to conceive as a lesbian mom
Once you decide that you or your partner want to become pregnant, it’s time to explore your options.
While no two journeys will be the same, here are the basics of what this might look like.
1. Fertility tests
The first thing to do is visit your doctor to check out where your reproductive health’s at.
They will run tests to determine your fertility levels and give some indication of your chances of carrying a pregnancy to term.
If you choose, both you and your partner can undergo these tests to help you decide how to proceed.
They may check:
Your FSH levels
FSH is your follicle-stimulating hormone, and, as it sounds, it stimulates your ovaries to grow follicles to release eggs when you ovulate.
Your doctor can test your FSH levels through a blood test.
If you have high levels of FSH, it may mean low egg reserves.
Low levels could mean that your body is no longer producing eggs.
Both of these may make it more of a challenge to get pregnant.
Your LH levels
LH is the luteinizing hormone.
An at-home ovulation test detects the LH levels in your pee.
You can also test this hormone through a blood test at your doctor’s office.
If your levels are too high or too low, it could mean that you are having trouble ovulating.
Your estradiol levels
Estradiol is an important form of estrogen ‒ a key sex hormone made in your ovaries.
Checking your levels can help your doctor determine your body’s ability to produce eggs for ovulation.
AMH is the anti-mullerian hormone.
Knowing the levels of this hormone will help to determine your ovarian supply and the possibility of you becoming pregnant.
You can learn more about the hormones that are important for fertility here.
Another test your doctor could do is an HSG or hysterosalpingogram.
This is an x-ray procedure that looks at your uterus and fallopian tubes to see if there is any reason they may impact your ability to get pregnant.
2. Choosing a fertility treatment
The good news is that there are many options for people looking to become lesbian moms:
Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
You may have also heard this referred to as AI, or artificial insemination.
As the name suggests, it involves placing sperm directly inside your or your partner’s uterus using a catheter.
The hope is that one of your eggs will be fertilized by the incoming sperm.
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
With IVF, eggs are collected from your ovaries, fertilized with sperm in a lab, and then transferred back into your uterus.
What is known as Reciprocal IVF is a way for both partners to be physically involved in the process.
Here, the eggs are taken from one partner’s ovaries, fertilized with donor sperm, and then placed into the other partner’s uterus.
Both of you are physically involved in the process.
Another option is IVF with INVOcell, which also allows both partners to be physically involved.
In this method, after the egg is fertilized, it is put back in the partner’s body where it came from.
They incubate this “INVOcell” for about five days, after which it is transferred into the carrying partner’s body.
Important to note that these treatments can come with high costs, so it’s good to talk money right up-front.
We’ll take you through more details on fertility treatments here.
3. Consider who you would like the sperm donor to be
You have the choice between a known sperm donor ‒ a friend or family member ‒ or an anonymous sperm donor, who you would find through a sperm bank.
If you go with someone you know, it’s a good idea to consult an attorney to ensure that you have all parental rights outlined from the outset.
If you opt for an anonymous donor, you won’t know who the person is, but you will be given information on certain key characteristics, like their family history and appearance.
Anonymous donors are also screened for infectious diseases and genetic risk factors.
And, if you need this study in your toolbox to ward off the naysayers, sexual orientation does not affect the outcome of fertility treatments with donated sperm.
Also, if you run into any hurtful language, we feel you. It’s time to get rid of the terms that have caused pain rather than provide care.
That’s why we’ve brought out our #RenamingRevolution glossary.
Terms like “incompetent cervix”, “geriatric pregnancy”, and “inhospitable womb”? Yep, we’re pretty sick of those and know that it’s time for them to go.
The TTC journey can be hard enough.
This may come in the form of friends and family, healthcare professionals, your Peanut community, or a combination of all of the above.
Adoption resources for lesbian parents
If you would like to consider adoption, that’s also an incredible way to become a lesbian mom.
Child Welfare offers this comprehensive resource to get you going.
And the government provides this resource for LGBTQIA+ adoptions.
We also have a special space on Peanut to support those wanting to adopt, are in the process of adopting, or have adopted.
Being a lesbian mom
In many ways, being a lesbian mom is just like being any other kind of mama.
You still have to ensure that this tiny being is fed, changed, and housed.
And as they get older, you still have to navigate the complexities of guiding a little person through life.
The one major difference? Navigating stigma.
Even in supportive communities, this is pretty much a given.
And while we don’t know your exact set of challenges, we do know the importance of boosting support networks.
Stories and experiences of real lesbian moms
It can help to know you’re not alone in your experiences as a lesbian mom, mom-to-be, or someone who’s trying to conceive.
So here’s some advice and stories from our community of lesbian moms on Peanut:
Trying to conceive
- “For lesbian couples who are trying to conceive with a sperm donor, I highly recommend using a Calpol syringe. Sounds strange, but it’s effective” ‒ Tara
- “When we were TTC, we used the European Sperm Bank. Great if you want more info about your donor and things to share with your child including letter written by donor to any children born.” ‒ Hannah
- “If you want to have your partner’s surname on baby’s birth certificate, but you’re not married, you usually can if you used a clinic to conceive.” ‒ Emily
- “When we had our child, my partner wasn’t able to claim what would be paternity, she took holiday and then we did shared parental leave, the system is a joke.” ‒ Zoe
- “Sometimes, I get worried that I’ll be thought less of as the mother who didn’t birth my child. Maybe it’s just me being sensitive, I don’t know. I just don’t want to be thought of as any less of a mother.” ‒ Louise
- “Myself and my fiancée did reciprocal IVF (I carried) we have never met another RIVF family. We tried using my embryos 4 times prior to the birth of our baby girl (almost 8 months old) and had a missed miss carriage with our twins. Being older I had far more abdominal chromosomes than my partner. We had success the first time when I carried her embryo.” ‒ Kelly
- “Me and my partner are currently 13 weeks in to our journey and where as she has many people who have been in the same situation I have nobody except the dads who I don’t really relate to.” ‒ Rachel
- “Two mom family here, our 9-month-old started first with ‘momma’, which we were extremely grateful for but now we’ve started with ‘dada’ and, very clearly, ‘dad’. I keep telling myself it’s because she’s got two grandads who keep saying ‘grandad’ to her as a way of making sure she says that before ‘nan’, but now I’m starting to think ‘momma’ will be forgotten.” ‒ Sam
- “I’m the birth Mom and go by Mommy and my wife is Mummy, both boys have called me Daddy since 9 months and still do at nearly 2! It does get me some pretty strange looks and I’ve corrected them every single time since they started but it seems to have just stuck…” ‒ Cathy
- “My wife and I have just had our first baby born in October through shared motherhood. My wife is the biological mother and I’m the gestational mother. It is exhausting having to explain every time, 3 times in the hospital my wife was asked if she was the nan! This was very upsetting and gave her a bit of a complex! From that, I learnt that I needed to introduce my wife to every single new person that came into the room before any dialogue could take place to avoid this from happening again and upsetting her even more! Shared motherhood was in fact our best chance of having a family because my AMH levels and follicle count were extremely low.” ‒ Lindsey
- “Mummy to a not-so-little 9-month-old boy. The other half went for a minor hospital procedure on Monday and the consultant said, ‘So is little man at home with daddy?’ she replied, ‘Nope, he’s at home with his mummy,’ apparently she was so embarrassed and couldn’t stop apologizing.” ‒ Sarah
- “My wife is carrying, I’m nonbinary and had no interest in carrying whereas my wife has wanted to be pregnant since I met her! 🤣 I Google absolutely everything and relay the information to her.” ‒ Benny
Resources for lesbian moms
Know that you’re not alone on this journey.
There are so many awesome lesbian moms out there doing their thing with pride.
Here are some ways to connect with others on your path:
- Peanut. Connect with other mamas and mamas-to-be through us.
- Social media accounts of mamas living the dream: team2moms and livingrosa are two of our favorites.
- National Center for Lesbian Rights. This awesome organization supports and enhances lesbian rights by offering free legal advice and conducting community education.
- GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, is out to “rewrite the script” for LGBTQIA+ acceptance in the media.
- Lavender Health offers reliable health-related information and resources to the LGBTQIA+ community and to healthcare professionals, educators, and policymakers.
- The Child Welfare Information Gateway offers this list to help you find the necessary resources in your community.
We wish you all the best on this journey.
A lesbian mom-and-child team is a formidable force. ❤️