Budds, Kirsty, Locke, Abigail, Burr, Vivien and King, Nigel (2009) "Nowadays, women feel they can schedule pregnancy into their diary like they would a dentist appointment." Perspectives on delayed motherhood in British newspapers. In: Society for Reproductive and Infant Psychology conference, 8th - 9th September 2009, The Copthorne Hotel, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. (Unpublished)

Background: Over the last few decades the average age of women at childbearing has risen owing to the increasing numbers of couples beginning their families later in life. This increase in the numbers of older mothers or women who ‘delay’ pregnancy has recently been highlighted as a cause for concern by those in the medical profession who warn that fertility declines with advancing maternal age whilst health risks to mother and baby increase, particularly once the woman reaches age 35. Older mothers or ‘elderly primiparae’ are generally medically defined as women who fall pregnant for the first time over the age of 34 (Mosby, 2006).
The present study sits within a wider PhD project, which argues that this concept of the ‘older mother’ is socially constructed – a product of our history and culture.

Method: For the present study, twenty-nine articles from six British newspapers were analysed using a social constructionist thematic analysis.

Results: As a result of the analysis, four contemporary discourses surrounding the ‘older mother’ were identified.

Discussion: According to Day et al (2004) an analysis of the media is said to provide researchers with an excellent opportunity to study the prevailing and common sense assumptions about the world which it reflects. Therefore, this analysis, through looking at the language used in the newspapers to discuss older mothers, provides an opportunity to observe and deconstruct some of the hegemonic ideas surrounding what it means to be an older mother today.

Conclusion: The findings of this preliminary study contribute to the wider project by pinpointing some of the components which add to the social construction of the older mother and, in doing so, reveals the complexity of the issues surrounding delayed motherhood.

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