Who Should Be the Bio-Mom?
A Guide for Lesbian Couples

by Katharine Swan

When it comes to getting pregnant, lesbian couples face a decision that straight couples don’t have to make: deciding who will get pregnant. Figuring out who will be the bio-mom and who will be the other-mother is usually seen as a hurdle unique to lesbian couples. However, it might be more accurate to describe this decision as a luxury straight couples don’t have. Unlike a straight couple, you get to decide which parent is the logical choice for bearing and breastfeeding the baby.

Although I believe this decision should be seen as a rare and positive opportunity to determine your own family dynamics, it is a decision nonetheless. Below are a few issues you should consider when choosing which of you will be the bio-mom.

Wondering Mom

Are there any medical reasons why one of you should be the obvious choice?

Sometimes the choice of who will be the bio-mom is made for you. A hysterectomy, menopause, or fertility problems might make it impossible (or nearly impossible) for one of you to conceive and carry a child. Additionally, one of you may have other conditions – such as diabetes or a family history of complications during pregnancy – that make pregnancy and childbirth more inconvenient than the norm.

What situational hurdles will each of you have to cross if you get pregnant?

This question is usually the point at which your advantage becomes clear. Not every woman’s employer is understanding about maternity leave – and not every woman makes enough at her job to support her partner and their child, even temporarily. Being able to choose the bio-mom allows you to select the arrangement that will work best for your family.

When considering which mother will be better able to bear a child, consider the following questions:

  • Whose employer offers the most generous maternity benefits?
  • Who makes more money at their job? In other words, who will be better able to support the family if there are complications and the pregnant mom can’t work as much as expected?
  • Who has the less demanding job? For instance, if one mom-to-be works at a desk and the other is a mechanic, chances are the woman with the desk job will have an easier time working while she is pregnant.
  • Do either of you have any other situational hurdles that would be difficult or impossible to work around if you got pregnant?

Unfortunately, not all of your answers to these questions will agree with each other. For instance, the mechanic might have the better benefits package. Also, the partner who generates the most income might also have access to the most paid maternity leave. Ranking the importance of each factor will ultimately be up to you and your partner.

Is one of you more emotionally suited for carrying and bearing a child?

When we say “more emotionally suited” we’re not talking about who has the strongest mother instincts – although you and your partner might feel that factor has an important bearing on your decision. What we’re talking about here is who will be better able to bear the burden of being pregnant.

Let’s face it – carrying a child isn’t easy. There’s morning sickness, mood swings, and total invasion of your “personal space.” You get kicked in the ribs, poked and prodded by doctors, and kept awake at night by the baby doing jumping jacks in your womb. And just when you think you can’t take it anymore, you have to try to push the ship back out of the bottle.

In other words, if you think that you can’t take the pressure of being pregnant, now is the time to speak up.

Do either of you have strong feelings for or against the idea of carrying a child?

Of course, no matter how good your job is or how ill-equipped you are to deal with mood swings, you may already have strong feelings as to whether you want to bear a child. Have you always dreamed of feeling another life growing in your womb? Or does the pain of childbirth scare you silly? Regardless of which way your preferences point, share them with your partner, so that the two of you can try to work something out.

If you both feel strongly about bearing a child, you may be able to work out a plan in which you share the responsibilities. For instance, your partner might agree to let you be the bio-mom if she can work part-time and be the primary caregiver after the baby is born.

Who is willing or able to put forth the initial time commitment?

The work isn’t done once the kid pops out – far from it. Whoever you choose to be the bio-mom will need time to recuperate after the baby is born, at the same time as she juggles the baby’s needs with her own. Unless you are lucky enough that you both can afford to take maternity leave, the majority of the child’s care will most likely fall to the same parent who is struggling to recover from childbirth.

The point here is that babies take time, and being the bio-mom means that you’ll be responsible for a lot of it, not only during the nine months of pregnancy but also during the first few weeks or months after the baby is born. Therefore, one of the questions you and your partner need to discuss is who can more easily afford to donate this time to the cause of becoming parents.

Are there any genetic concerns that you don’t want passed to the child?

Although appearances are obviously not your main concern in choosing the bio-mom, genetics still may play a part in your decision. In addition to wanting to avoid pesky physical traits, either you or your partner may have a history of genetic diseases in your family with which you’d prefer not to burden you child. For example, if diabetes, heart disease, or a predisposition toward certain kinds of cancer runs in your family, you might elect to be the other-mother so that your child won’t be hampered with medical concerns.

As you and your partner discuss these issues, you might find that the decision of who is to be the bio-mom becomes steadily clearer. The important thing is to ensure that both of you are happy with your decision – and of course to remember that whoever is the bio-mom this time can always pass the torch to her partner for the second round.

Information published on The Rainbow Babies website is not a substitute for proper medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or care. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Disclaimer: The Rainbow Babies provides sample contracts and legal/social health articles for informational purposes only—please do not consider it as legally-binding advice of any kind.