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Keywords:

  • nonbiological lesbian mothers;
  • pregnancy;
  • descriptive phenomenology

ABSTRACT

Objective

To describe the experiences of preconception, pregnancy, and new motherhood from the perspective of lesbian nonbiological mothers.

Design

Descriptive phenomenology.

Setting

A private room at the study site and participants’ homes.

Participants

Twenty-four self-identified lesbian nonbiological mothers in a committed relationship and whose partner gave birth within the past 2 years participated. All of the participants were from urban or suburban areas in the Pacific Northwest.

Methods

Women participated in semistructured in person interviews that were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim for analysis. Coliazzi's method guided the process.

Results

An overarching theme of “feeling different” permeated the experiences of preconception, pregnancy, and new motherhood for the participants. The women's narratives revealed seven themes that illustrated their experiences: (a) Launching pregnancy: A roller coaster ride; (b) Having legal and biological concerns: Biology prevails; (c) There is a little person in there: Dealing with pregnancy issues; (d) Losing relationships over pregnancy: The elephant in the room; (e) Feeling incomplete as a mother; (f) Carving a unique role: There are very few of us out there; and (g) Sadness and regret: Nonbiological mothers get the postpartum blues, too.

Conclusions

The experience of preconception, pregnancy, and new motherhood for nonbiological lesbian mothers is complicated by the lack of biological and legal substantiation to the infant, few role models, and limited social support. Nurses and health care providers cognizant of these issues can play an important role in facilitating a positive transition to motherhood for this population.