In this series, Claire Lynch shares her experience of being a two-mum family and her advice for other families with two mums.
Family structures are diverse and the number of two-mum families in the UK is growing every year. While resources and support for pregnant women who identify as LGBT+ are increasingly accessible, the ‘other mother’ can be overlooked.
Much of the information available for new parents is useful to all families. But it doesn’t always take into account the specific questions that might face two women starting a family together. That’s why I wrote this series of articles to support two-mum families:
- Same-sex parents: books to share with your baby
- Two-mum families: how to tackle questions like ‘what will they call you?’
- Two-mum families: what to expect when you’re not expected
- Two-mum families: becoming mummy and mama
These articles are for women who become mothers without being pregnant or giving birth. They are not guidelines, or instructions, but reflections on my experience that I hope will help you plan ahead for life as a family.
How might people view the ‘other mother’?
In my experience, if you’re a woman with a pregnant partner you might find people define you by the things you are not. You’re not pregnant, not giving birth and not becoming a new father. Yet your role is more than that of a birth partner who supports the birth mother, because you are about to become a parent too.
Who am I?
I’m the mother of three children, ranging in age from three years to eight weeks. My wife gave birth to all of our children who were conceived via reciprocal IVF, that is, using my eggs.
As a parent in a two-mum family, I’ve learnt some lessons about how to deal with intrusive questions. I’ve also learnt how to manage awkward conversations, and most of all, how to shape family life around the things that matter to us.
I’m writing these articles not because I have all the answers (if only) but because I hope they will be of use to others going through similar experiences.
What can you expect from NCT?
All parents-to-be worry about how life will change after their baby is born. Will you cope with sleepless nights? How will the baby change your relationship?
Through their classes, branch events, support line and website, NCT offers support and information that many families depend on. This is why it is so important that all families see themselves represented through their website, classes and support.
These articles create a space for non-birth mothers to think through their role. How can you support your partner during pregnancy and birth? How can you both prepare, practically and emotionally, for life as new mums?
Antenatal classes offer a great opportunity to make new friends and learn useful skills alongside other new parents. Unfortunately, some same-sex couples can feel anxious about joining a group, worried that they might face discrimination, or be made to feel different from the other parents in the group.
All parents can expect to be included and feel welcomed at NCT classes. If you feel nervous about joining a group, you might like to talk to the antenatal teacher in advance to clarify how the course will work. If, for example, parents are sometimes separated into groups by gender, you could request an alternative. You might also like to think in advance about the language you prefer to use.
NCT has a vision of a world in which no parent is isolated. All parents should have access to online resources, courses, and networks that support them as parents. I hope you find these articles a useful starting place.
Claire Lynch is a writer and academic. She lives near Windsor with her wife Bethan and their three daughters. This article is part of series she has written about her experiences as a same-sex parent for NCT. Her book Small: On motherhoods, telling the story of her motherhood journey, is out on 24 June 2021, published by Brazen_Octopus books. If you'd like to share your story, please do get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photography by And then she clicked
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700. We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.
You might find attending one of NCT's Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.
Read the free guide from Stonewall ‘Pregnant Pause: A guide for lesbians on how to get pregnant’ covering all aspects of pregnancy and childbirth from conception to starting school
Read more about the parenting issues facing same-sex parents on the website, Pink Parents
Visit We Are Family Magazine, a community resource and platform for social change, representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in a family context through positive representation, advice and support.