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Older motherhood and the changing life course in the era of assisted reproductive technologies

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Midlife, once a focus of particular interest to gerontologists because of its implications for later life, has recently received little attention. But as new reproductive technologies have expanded in the United States, motherhood is occurring at older ages. While older motherhood is not a new social practice, what is unique is that an increasing number of women are becoming pregnant through technological means, often for the first time, at the end of their reproductive cycle. These women can be understood as part of a new middle age, engaging in new life course possibilities that respond to changing social, cultural, physical, and economic realities, and potentially extending much later in the life course. Drawing on interviews with 79 couples, we utilize symbolic interactionist conceptualizations of identity and stigma to consider how women negotiate the shifting social identities associated with older motherhood. We conclude that older motherhood will be one phenomenon contributing to an enduring change in views of what constitutes old age, and that it will be seen as occurring much later in the life course.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/37119/

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