(The Conversation) — Polyamory is the act of engaging in multiple consensual, potentially long-term, romantic or sexual relationships at the same time.
We conducted an interview study with polyamorous families to examine their experiences with pregnancy and birth .
Our aim was to identify barriers to prenatal, antenatal and postnatal care for polyamorous families and to share results and strategies with health-care providers in the hope of overcoming them.
“There’s extra one-on-one. When the 13-year-old middle child is sad and sick and whatever and just wants Momma, and the three-year-old just wants Dad… great, there’s still another adult to take care of those other kids.”
We found that those in polyamorous relationships benefit from each other but not from the system. Many of our interviewees expressed the view that having more partners garners more support.
They told us that although navigating multiple relationships can be difficult, it can also offer greater financial and logistical support when it comes to raising a family. One participant said:
Our research participants also expressed difficulty navigating formal and informal social systems — including the health-care system — as we live in a world that tends to privilege monogamy.
A variety of relationship structures
The concept of polyamory, which is one type of non-monogamy, is poorly understood and it can mean different things to different people.
Generally speaking, polyamorous relationships are long-standing, romantic or sexual in nature, and involve more than two individuals. However, this is not true for everyone engaging in polyamory. There are a variety of relationship structures or “polycules” that exist within the world of polyamory.
Some polycules are structured hierarchically where two individuals (or more) of similar (or different) gender identities live together (or separate) and prioritize their relationship but engage in other romantic or sexual relationships outside of this dyad.
Other polycules are non-hierarchical and all relationships are considered priority. In some cases, all individuals in a polycule are engaged in romantic or sexual relationships with all parties, but this is not always the case.
Each polyamorous relationship is unique in structure, arrangement and definition.
More common than people think
Because polyamory means different things to different people, it is a hard thing to quantify. All the participants in our study described being polyamorous as part of their identify. However, debate exists as to whether polyamory should be considered part of one’s sexual orientation or rather a relationship practice.
As such, prevalence estimates are also limited by individual willingness to disclose their polyamorous status.
The most recent estimate suggests that one in five single adults have practiced some form of consensual non-monogamy.
If only 10 per cent of these practise polyamory specifically, that would still represent two per cent of the entire single population.
Furthermore, this number does not account for married individuals engaging in consensual non-monogamy.
One Canadian based survey collected information from 547 self-identified polyamorous individuals. This survey reported that the number of polyamorous folks is growing. It also showed that the majority are of childbearing age (25 to 44 years) with greater than 20 per cent having at least one child under the age of 19.
Despite the limitations of research to date, we can conclude that polyamory is more common than most people think and that folks engaging in polyamorous relationships are having children.
Discussion of parenting roles
The polyamorous families we interviewed expressed a great deal of deliberateness in their decision-making, specifically around family planning.
They put substantial efforts into communication around whether children were desired within relationships, when to have children, who in the relationships would be biological parents and what parenting roles individuals would have.
“They asked who is allowed to make appointments for your child, and I said me, my husband and my girlfriend. And I had to give her name and her number. And they asked me several times, are you sure? What’s her relationship to the child? I’m like, well, I guess she’s technically his mother. And they’re like, well, we’ll just put down his aunt because we can’t put down multiple mothers when you already have a father, apparently.”
Although this was not always the case, many of our interviewees also reported difficulty disclosing their polyamorous status due to fear of judgment. This was true for disclosure to family, friends, colleagues and, in the case of pregnancy and birth, to their care providers.
Even when participants did disclose their relationships with multiple partners, these relationships were not always validated. For example, one participant said:
Marginalization within healthcare system
Regarding pregnancy and birth, our participants expressed feeling marginalized in the health-care system. They found that healthcare providers and the system in general offered little space to acknowledge partners outside of biological parentage.
Our participants expressed facing barriers such as lack of physical space for additional partners, lack of inclusion in medical decision making and facing judgement with disclosures.
Each experience that participants shared with us was unique, however, just as every family is.
Elizabeth Darling is Director/Assistant Dean, Midwifery, and an Associate Professor at McMaster University. Erika Arseneau is a Midwifery Student at McMaster University. Samantha Landry is a Student Midwife at McMaster University.
The Conversation publishes knowledge-based journalism that is responsible, ethical and supported by evidence from academics and researchers in order to inform public debate with facts, clarity and insight into society’s biggest problems.
RAGE is Latest Venue to Fall Victim to the Pandemic
WEST HOLLYWOOD (L.A. Magazine) — Rage nightclub has been a destination for LGBTQ+ nightlife in the bustling Santa Monica Boulevard corridor of West Hollywood for decades. Now, nearly 40 years after first opening its doors, the club has announced it has permanently closed, yet another local business to collapse amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rage nightclub management lays some portion of the blame on their landlord, Monte Overstreet. The club’s now-former general manager, Ron Madrill, told Q Voice News that rent for the location was already “very high” prior to operations shutting down in March. He says he believes an impasse over rent payments may have contributed to Rage’s closure.
Overstreet also reportedly owns the space formerly occupied by neighboring bar Flaming Saddles Saloon, which also announced […]
Anderson Cooper Reveals He’s a Dad, Welcomes New Baby Boy
NEW YORK CITY (TMZ) — Anderson Cooper is the proud new father of a baby boy … revealing Wyatt Morgan Cooper to the world.
The CNN anchor took to Instagram Thursday night to reveal earlier this week Wyatt was born via surrogate. Cooper said, “As a gay kid, I never thought it would be possible to have a child, and I’m grateful for all those who have paved the way, and for the doctors and nurses and everyone involved in my son’s birth.”
As for Wyatt’s name, 52-year-old says it’s in honor of his dad, who passed away when he was just 10, saying, “I hope I can be as good a dad as he was.”
Anderson also shared a sweet message about his surrogate, saying, “Most of all, I am grateful to a remarkable surrogate who carried Wyatt, and watched over him lovingly, and tenderly, and gave birth to him. It is an extraordinary blessing – what she, and all surrogates give to families who cant have children.”
Finally, Anderson says, “I do wish my mom and dad and my brother, Carter, were alive to meet Wyatt, but I like to believe they can see him. I imagine them all together, arms around each other, smiling and laughing, happy to know that their love is alive in me and in Wyatt, and that our family continues.” His mother, Gloria Vanderbilt died last year.
Wyatt is Anderson’s first child … Congrats!!
Mister Rogers Told Co-Star Don’t Come Out as Gay, and Marry a Woman
(TMZ) — “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” was no place for gay people … so says one of the stars.
Francois Clemmons, who played Officer Clemmons from 1968 – 1995, says in his new memoir, Fred Rogers got wind of the fact Clemmons was gay, pulled him aside and said, “Franc, you have talents and gifts that set you apart and above the crowd. Someone has informed us that you were seen at the local gay bar downtown. Now, I want you to know, Franc, that if you’re gay, it doesn’t matter to me at all.”
And, then the other shoe dropped … “Whatever you say and do is fine with me, but if you’re going to be on the show as an important member of the ‘Neighborhood,’ you can’t be out as gay.”
Clemmons told People Rogers told him secrecy was the only way … “You must do this Francois … because it threatens my dream,” adding, “I was destroyed. The man who was killing me had also saved me. He was my executioner and deliverer. But, at the same time, I knew that he would know how to comfort me.”
According to Clemmons, whose memoir is titled, “Officer Clemmons,” Rogers also told him the audience didn’t care who he was sleeping with … “especially if it’s a man.”
And, there’s more … according to Clemmons, Rogers urged him to marry a woman, and he obliged. Clemmons married La-Tanya Mae Sheridan. They divorced in 1974 and later Clemmons came out.
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