Gay Men's Experiences of UK Maternity Care
Objective: The number of same-sex parents in the UK has increased steadily over the years. Gay men are increasing seeking surrogacy to become parents and subsequently engaging with maternity services. Whilst there is a small body of literature on the care lesbian women receive within the maternity sector, to date, no studies have explicitly explored the experience of gay men within UK maternity services following successful surrogacy. Design: These data are drawn from a wider exploratory, qualitative study based on an interpretivist epistemology. The study explored the factors that influence UK resident gay men’s desire and motivation for parenthood, why men choose surrogacy over other family building options and their experiences as they navigate the surrogacy journey. Data were collected using semi-structured, face-to-face interviews with 21 gay men and 15 key stakeholders, for example surrogacy organisations, legal and regulatory agencies, and healthcare professionals. Method: The presentation centres on data from interviews with a purposive, self-selecting sample of 12 gay men who had become fathers via surrogacy, and whose surrogate delivered their baby within the UK maternity sector. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. Results: This paper reports three key themes: (i) heteronormative barriers in maternity care, (ii) healthcare professionals’ unfamiliarity and inexperience with surrogacy arrangements and (iii) healthcare professionals’ lack of understanding of UK surrogacy law. Data suggest that institutionalised practices endorsing heteronormative and gendered norms still exist within UK maternity care, with little recognition of the needs of gay men as intended parents. Maternity staff lacked understanding and knowledge of surrogacy arrangements which often resulted in poor care. Participants reported that in order to challenge negative institutionalised practices and be viewed as legitimate parents, they had to educate healthcare professionals about the practicalities and legalities of surrogacy arrangements. Conclusions: The majority of participants reported negative experiences within maternity services. Despite significant changes in UK equality legislation, removing some of the structural boundaries to parenting for gay men, inequitable and discriminatory care is still occurring within the UK maternity sector. It is recommended that maternity staffs receive additional education on UK surrogacy law and reflect on current practices to ensure they are inclusive of all prospective parents. A contemporary surrogacy policy and protocol needs to be in place in all UK maternity units to ensure inclusive and responsive maternity care is provided for all those involved in surrogacy arrangements.
Citation : Norton, W. (2019) Gay Men's Experiences of UK Maternity Care. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) World Congress 2019; London, UK. June 2019.
Research Institute : Centre for Reproduction Research (CRR)
Peer Reviewed : Yes