Get access

The experiences of Australian lesbian couples becoming parents: deciding, searching and birthing

Authors

  • Rose Chapman,

    1. Authors: Rose Chapman, PhD, MSc, RN, Senior Lecturer, Director of Practice Education, Curtin University and Director of Research – Nursing, Joondalup Health Campus; Joan Wardrop, D Phil, Associate Professor of Anthropology and History, Curtin University; Tess Zappia, BN, PGD, Cert Family and Community Health, Research Assistant, Curtin University; Rochelle Watkins, PhD, BSc, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Curtin University; Linda Shields, MD, PhD, FRCNA, Professor of Paediatric and Child Health Nursing, Curtin University and Child and Adolescent Health Service, Perth, WA and Medical School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Joan Wardrop,

    1. Authors: Rose Chapman, PhD, MSc, RN, Senior Lecturer, Director of Practice Education, Curtin University and Director of Research – Nursing, Joondalup Health Campus; Joan Wardrop, D Phil, Associate Professor of Anthropology and History, Curtin University; Tess Zappia, BN, PGD, Cert Family and Community Health, Research Assistant, Curtin University; Rochelle Watkins, PhD, BSc, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Curtin University; Linda Shields, MD, PhD, FRCNA, Professor of Paediatric and Child Health Nursing, Curtin University and Child and Adolescent Health Service, Perth, WA and Medical School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Tess Zappia,

    1. Authors: Rose Chapman, PhD, MSc, RN, Senior Lecturer, Director of Practice Education, Curtin University and Director of Research – Nursing, Joondalup Health Campus; Joan Wardrop, D Phil, Associate Professor of Anthropology and History, Curtin University; Tess Zappia, BN, PGD, Cert Family and Community Health, Research Assistant, Curtin University; Rochelle Watkins, PhD, BSc, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Curtin University; Linda Shields, MD, PhD, FRCNA, Professor of Paediatric and Child Health Nursing, Curtin University and Child and Adolescent Health Service, Perth, WA and Medical School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Rochelle Watkins,

    1. Authors: Rose Chapman, PhD, MSc, RN, Senior Lecturer, Director of Practice Education, Curtin University and Director of Research – Nursing, Joondalup Health Campus; Joan Wardrop, D Phil, Associate Professor of Anthropology and History, Curtin University; Tess Zappia, BN, PGD, Cert Family and Community Health, Research Assistant, Curtin University; Rochelle Watkins, PhD, BSc, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Curtin University; Linda Shields, MD, PhD, FRCNA, Professor of Paediatric and Child Health Nursing, Curtin University and Child and Adolescent Health Service, Perth, WA and Medical School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Linda Shields

    1. Authors: Rose Chapman, PhD, MSc, RN, Senior Lecturer, Director of Practice Education, Curtin University and Director of Research – Nursing, Joondalup Health Campus; Joan Wardrop, D Phil, Associate Professor of Anthropology and History, Curtin University; Tess Zappia, BN, PGD, Cert Family and Community Health, Research Assistant, Curtin University; Rochelle Watkins, PhD, BSc, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Curtin University; Linda Shields, MD, PhD, FRCNA, Professor of Paediatric and Child Health Nursing, Curtin University and Child and Adolescent Health Service, Perth, WA and Medical School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author

Rose Chapman, Senior Lecturer and Director of Practice Education, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia. Telephone: +61 08 9266 2095.
E-mail: r.chapman@curtin.edu.au

Abstract

Aim and objectives.  To explore Australian lesbian mothers’ experiences of becoming parents.

Background.  Lesbians are becoming parents and, since legislative changes in Australia, their numbers are increasing. Prior to legislative changes, fertility and health services for women in Australia exclusively served the needs of the heterosexual community. Although lesbian experience of seeking health services has been studied in other contexts, little has been done to understand their experience of deciding, conceiving and birthing.

Design.  Qualitative descriptive study.

Method.  Seven interviews conducted with lesbian mothers in Australia.

Results.  The following themes were identified: ‘making the decision’; ‘the search’; ‘perseverance’; and ‘problems of isolation’.

Conclusions.  Although legislation now affords lesbians access to reproductive technologies throughout most of Australia, their involvement with health professionals can result in homophobic interactions. One way to address the needs of lesbian families is to provide an environment where the disclosure of sexual identity is encouraged. Further larger scale research should identify changes to service provision required to address the inequalities between heterosexual and lesbian women and ensure health services are provided that are free from discrimination.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Most health services have policies and procedures in place to prevent discrimination on all grounds, including sexual orientation. It is imperative that administrators and clinicians take steps to ensure that these guidelines are applied.

Ancillary