Mothering on the Margins

Mothering on the Margins (MOMs) was a research study carried out by researchers at CAMH and the LGBTQ Parenting Network. Learn more about this project on the Re:Searching for LGBTQ Health website.

Research Goals

(a) to learn about the factors that contribute to emotional well-being in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, and Two-Spirit (LGBT) mothers and mothers-to-be

(b) to learn what services LGBT mothers and mothers-to-be find helpful, and what services they wish existed, to address their emotional needs.

Methods

A total of 64 women participated in the study; including women who were trying to conceive, pregnant women, and biological and non-biological mothers of children under one year of age. Participants completed self-administered surveys assessing health and mental health issues, family and parenting issues, as well as social issues such as discrimination. Interviews were held with 20 of the participants to further investigate mental health issues and support and service utilization and needs.

Findings

From the MOMs study, we learned:

  • Perinatal depression is not less common and may be more common among lesbian and bisexual women relative to heterosexual women.
  • Experiences of discrimination affect mental health, and women who experience multiple discrimination is particularly important.
  • Lesbian and bisexual women face significant barriers in accessing fertility services and pre- and postnatal care.

Team

  • Principal Investigator: Lori Ross, PhD
  • Co-Investigators: Dr. Leah Steele, Rachel Epstein, Dr. Carol Strike, Dr. Brenda Toner and Dr. Meir Steiner
  • Research Assistant: Cheryl Dobinson

Funding

Fuded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Gender and Health

Project Outcomes

Ross, L.E., Siegel, A., Dobinson, C., Epstein, R., & Steele, L.S. (2012). “I Don’t Want to Turn Totally Invisible”: Mental Health, Stressors, and Supports Among Bisexual Women During the Perinatal Period. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 8(2), 137-154.

Steele, L., Ross, L.E., Epstein, R., Strike, C. & Goldfinger, C. (2008). Correlates of Mental Health Service Use Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Mothers and Prospective Mothers. Women and Health, 47(3), 95-112.

Ross, L.E., Steele, L., & Epstein, R. (2006). Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Recommendations for Improving the Provision of Assisted Reproductive Technology Services. Fertility and Sterility, 86(3), 735-738.

Ross, L.E., Steele, L., & Epstein, R. (2006). Service Use and Gaps in Services for Lesbian and Bisexual Women During Donor Insemination, Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, 28(5), 505-511.

Ross, L.E., Steele, L., Sapiro, B. (2005). Perceptions of predisposing and protective factors for perinatal depression in same-sex parents. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 50(6), 65-70.

Ross, L.E. (2005). Perinatal mental health in lesbian mothers: A review of potential risk and protective factors. Women & Health, 41(3), 113-128.

Yager, C., Brennan, D., Steele, L., Epstein, R., & Ross, L.E. (2010). The Challenges and Mental Health Experiences of Lesbian and Bisexual Women Who Are in the Process of Trying to Conceive. Health and Social Work, 35(3), 191-200.

Press

Rodgerson, Gillian. Wed, May 25, 2005. Baby makes three:  Making room for queer mommies. Daily Xtra! full article