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Keywords:

  • homosexuality;
  • lesbian;
  • parenting;
  • postpartum depression;
  • risk factors;
  • qualitative research

Increasing numbers of women are choosing to have children in the context of same-sex relationships or as “out” lesbian or bisexual individuals. This study used qualitative methods to assess perceived predisposing and protective factors for perinatal depression in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) women. Two focus groups with LGBQ women were conducted: 1) biological parents of young children and 2) nonbiological parents of young children or whose partners were currently pregnant. Three major themes emerged. Issues related to social support were primary, particularly related to disappointment with the lack of support provided by members of the family of origin. Participants also described issues related to the couple relationship, such as challenges in negotiating parenting roles. Finally, legal and policy barriers (e.g., second parent adoption) were identified as a significant source of stress during the transition to parenthood. Both lack of social support and relationship problems have previously been identified as risk factors for perinatal depression in heterosexual women, and legal and policy barriers may represent a unique risk factor for this population. Therefore, additional study of perinatal mental health among LGBQ women is warranted.