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Keywords:

  • transition;
  • motherhood;
  • lesbian;
  • nonbirth mothers;
  • language

ABSTRACT

Objective

To explore how language affects the transition of social (nonbirth) mothers into motherhood.

Design

Nonexperimental, qualitative design.

Setting

This study took place in large, urban city located on the East Coast. Interviews were conducted in a private location within the social mother's home or in a private room at a coffee shop.

Participants

Twenty women who became social mothers through donor insemination with their female partners within the previous 24 months.

Methods

In depth, semistructured interviews lasting from 45 minutes to 90 minutes.

Results

The transition to motherhood for social mothers is influenced by the use of language at the individual (social mother), family (mommy, mama, or something else), community (heterosexism of health care providers), and societal (education equals validation) levels. At present, a common language for or understanding of nonbirth mothers and their motherhood roles does not exist. Health care providers, including doctors, nurses, and office personnel working in maternal and child health settings, can help social mothers transition into motherhood by validating and recognizing their maternal roles through the use of written and spoken language.

Conclusion

By understanding how language affects the transition of social mothers to motherhood and by addressing their needs, health care providers can deliver better support to social mothers and their families.