City Research Online

"Her bun in my oven": Motivations and experiences of two-mother families who have used reciprocal IVF

Shaw, K., Bower-Brown, S., McConnachie, A. , Jadva, V. ORCID: 0000-0003-0922-0694, Ahuja, K., Macklon, N. & Golombok, S. (2023). "Her bun in my oven": Motivations and experiences of two-mother families who have used reciprocal IVF. Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Science, 72(1), pp. 195-214. doi: 10.1111/fare.12805


What motivates same-gender female couples to choose reciprocal in vitro fertilization (IVF)? Do their experiences of becoming and being a mother via reciprocal IVF match their pre-parenthood expectations?

Reciprocal IVF is a treatment route available to cis, same-gender female couples, and other couples in which both partners have a uterus and egg stores. One partner's egg is retrieved, fertilized in vitro with donor sperm, then carried by the other partner. Existing debate has considered the ethical implications of this treatment route. To date, no empirical research has explored the experiences of families who have used reciprocal IVF.

Semistructured interviews were conducted with genetic and gestational mothers in 14 families headed by cis, same gender female couples who had conceived by reciprocal IVF in the United Kingdom (N = 28 mothers). Data were analyzed according to the principles of reflexive thematic analysis.

Four themes were constructed: (a) becoming mums together; (b) legitimacy: “who's the real mum”; (c) choices and constraints; and (d) biological connections strengthen family connections.

Families had multiple and nuanced motivations for choosing reciprocal IVF, such as the desire to share the journey of motherhood with their partner, to be perceived as legitimate parents, to overcome practical barriers, and to build strong family relationships. Mothers' pre-parenthood expectations often mismatched the reality of becoming and being a mother via reciprocal IVF. Most parents found that the significance of reciprocal IVF diminished as their children grew up.

Findings demonstrate that reciprocal IVF offers a fulfilling route to parenthood. Parents should have access to routes to parenthood that meet their reproductive needs and feel right for them as a couple.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors. Family Relations published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of National Council on Family Relations. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: assisted reproduction, biogenetic relationships, LGBTQ+, motherhood, qualitative
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
[thumbnail of Family Relations - 2022 - Shaw - Her bun in my oven Motivations and experiences of two‐mother families who have used.pdf]
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (643kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login