Queer or straight, new parents need support after bringing a baby home. Everyone is sleep deprived, wants to know how best to feed baby and has infant care questions. But what makes the LGBTQ experience different from their straight peers?
As with any group of people, there isn't just one lived experience. However, the LGBTQ community often have a shared set of circumstances which affects the postpartum period - emotionally, physically and practically. Here are some examples.
- The journey to becoming parents is intentional and most often not the traditional way - whether it's a known sperm donor, IVF, surrogacy, gestational carrier or adoption.
- Second-parent adoption procedures, for those partners wanting their own legal status as parent, are necessary in some states.
- The relationship with their family of origin may be challenging or non-existent, leaving these new parents feeling particularly vulnerable and isolated.
- Navigating the maze of insurance forms when its language isn't representative of you or your family can be challenging.
- Loss of queer identity; change in how others view you and your gender role is common.
- Statistically, queer people are more likely to have had a history of trauma.
- Breastfeeding or chestfeeding of the non-lactating partner is possible for many but a lengthy process.
- Dealing with homophobia in general and now, as a parent, can be doubly hard.
People in the LGBTQ community tend to have greater peer support than their heteronormative friends. Their family circle is often made up of friends. This supportive network is vital. It shouldn't be assumed, however, that everyone is equipped to handle the necessary postpartum care, for the duration needed. A (virtual) postpartum doula can be a great resource and gift. Interview several to find one who's a good fit and supportive of your family.
So, if you're expecting to bring home your little bundle soon or know someone who is, check in to see how they're doing. And then check again.