Revised 11/6/16. Minor updates here, fixed some typos and that kind of thing.
I ran across a discussion on a polyamory forum once where a woman said she absolutely could not deal with the possibility of her husband getting someone else pregnant. A bunch of people were trying to reassure her of how unlikely it was, how with birth control, yadda yadda yadda.
They were right, but they were also wrong. There is no 100% foolproof method of birth control. Would be great if there was, and maybe one day we’ll get one. IUDs and implants seem to be heading in the right direction, but we aren’t there yet. There is no perfect birth control. Accepting that is part of accepting a polyamorous relationship.
Because pregnancy can be so life changing, it is important to discuss what you and your partners will do in the event of an unexpected pregnancy.
Each relationship will have to work out for themselves what options and possibilities they need to discuss. A lot of things will be specific to different polyamory relationship styles (a polyfi family that lives together, doesn’t need to worry about a secondary who lives across the country getting pregnant after a visit) and it would take several dozen blog posts to cover all the possibilities. But here are a few considerations to start you off:
Obviously, abortion is the mother’s decision. Knowing if they might want an abortion gives a starting point for the rest of the discussion. All the following assumes that the mother does not wish to abort.
- If you have more than one relationship (primary/secondary, DADT, polyamorous networks, etc), discuss options with each relationship separately.
- Potential mothers – there is no guarantee you will even be able to guess who the father is. Think about that.
- Other potential parents – if your primary gets pregnant it WILL affect your secondary. And vise versa. Discuss it with them individually. (This applies whether or not you have a hierarchy, whether or not you live together. Do not kid yourself, life will not go on as normal if there is a baby on the way, it will affect ALL your relationships.)
- I shouldn’t need to say it, but potential mothers, if you get pregnant it will affect all of your relationships, regardless of who may or may not be the other bio parent.
There is a lot to think about, and you don’t need to hash over everything down to what hospital you’d want to give birth at. If all you say is ‘How would we handle it?’ ’I don’t know, but we’d find a way,’ you both (all) know that you are aware of the possibility, and no one is likely to utterly freak out if it happens. That’s enough.
It should go without saying that ‘How would we handle it?’ ‘I refuse to discuss it because you will not let it happen.’ is an indication that you have a lot more to talk about it, though not necessarily regarding pregnancy.
What do you think needs to be considered when discussing an unexpected pregnancy in a polyamorous relationship? Please leave a comment with your ideas.
Originally posted June 30, 2011