It is no secret that childbirth and pregnancy are hard. Especially for mothers navigating pregnancy for the first time. But what about childbearing fathers? Yes, men can give birth too. For Transgender men and other Queer birthing people, pregnancy and childbirth look extremely different. The varied birthing options that exist for LGBTQ+ communities create unique obstacles for Queer birthing people that cisgender individuals do not face. Moreover, it is oftentimes more challenging to find resources that are both LGBTQ+ inclusive and support unconventional births. This article will go over tips for LGBTQ+ birthing people who are seeking support and provide a list of resources for additional help.
A transgender man is someone who was assigned female sex at birth but has a male gender identity. Since trans men are born with female reproductive organs, those who have not undergone sex reassignment surgery still have the option of bearing children. Additionally, queer individuals whose sex-assignment at birth was female but identify outside of the gender binary can also have a pregnancy. When it comes to inclusive healthcare, being knowledgeable on these titles and becoming educated on gender-affirming language for Queer populations is the first step to promoting inclusive healthcare. Below is a list of various organizations and other resources that uphold these values and have experience working with Queer populations.
Although it is extremely is important for healthcare facilities to be knowledgeable on LGBTQ+ care, one major question remains: what should Queer birthing people do to prepare for pregnant life? Below are 5 tips prospective LGBTQ+ parents can use as a guideline throughout their pregnancies:
1. Seek Affirmation in your Communities
Surrounding yourself with individuals who understand and respect different gender identities can be an enormous aid throughout the pregnancy process. Fluctuating hormones often bring about intense emotions and mood swings, while outside stressors will only add to this. These stressors mustn’t be derived from our immediate environment. If you have difficulty finding support in your local community, look into joining Facebook support groups or other virtual communities on social media.
2. Ask Questions
Know your providers, i.e. know the differences between a midwife, doula, and ob-gyn, and which role, according to their job description, will best meet your pregnancy needs (refer to our FAQ page for more explanation on these titles). Know your preferred birth setting, do you prefer an at-home birth? One in the hospital, or perhaps a birthing center? Lastly, know which
providers and healthcare facilities you can trust with your childbirth. Have they cared for LGTQ+ families in the past? Are they knowledgeable about the variety of needs and services that exist for different gender identities? Do they use gender-inclusive language?
3. Make Informed Decisions
Unconventional births come with a lot of questions, thus, answering these questions and making informed decisions thereof, is imperative to fulfilling birth outcomes. For transgender or
non-binary birthing people, questions about transitioning options such as cross-sex hormone
therapy and its impact on fertility and fetal development can help prevent pregnancy complications. Preconception counseling is also highly recommended for Queer people, to discuss their birthing options, as well as to prepare for the potential of increased gender dysphoria during pregnancy and postpartum life.
4. Plan for Postpartum Life
Whether deciding on optimal breastfeeding options, plans for medical transitions, or the gendering of the baby, developing a comprehensive plan for the child after they are born is imperative for Queer couples. Feeding options for the child range from inducing lactation through hormonal supplements for Trans and non-binary individuals to receiving milk donations. Similarly, medical transitions for Queer individuals typically involve hormonal treatment to aid with the healing process postpartum. More information on these topics can be found using these resources:
5. Create your LGBTQ+ Community
The good news, the community of LGBTQ+ families is growing on social media and so are the doulas, lactation consultants and other birth professionals that serve them. Here are a few LGBTQ+ folks to follow on Instagram, to get you started.