• Birth;
  • Critical ethnography;
  • Lesbian mother;
  • Pregnancy

Objective:  To describe lesbians’ personal and health care experiences of becoming pregnant, giving birth, and being mothers and comothers within the context of potentially oppressive family, social, and political structures.

Design:  Critical ethnography.

Setting:  Participants’ homes, lesbian mother support group, and prenatal clinics and hospitals in the Pacific Northwest.

Participants:  English-speaking self-identified lesbian women, including 21 interview and six focus-group participants and approximately 43 observed in a support group.

Data Collection:  In-depth open-ended interviews, focus group, and participant observation.

Data Analysis:  Content/categorical analysis followed by discussion of the mother’s stories and a critical conversation about lesbian mothering.

Results:  The seven organizing themes are as follows: preparing the way: becoming ready; conception: you can’t just fall into it; you can hear a heartbeat: pregnancy; birthing our babies; the work of mothers and mothers who work; families who sustain and families who oppose; and sources of support in everyday life. The first four are described in this article.

Conclusions:  Health care providers, policy makers, and the public can be better informed about the specific needs of childbearing lesbians. JOGNN, 36, 190-199; 2007. DOI: 10.1111/J.1552-6909.2007.00136.x