Changing gender roles and increased sexual and economic freedom have created opportunities for women to give birth relatively late in life. However, stigma and misplaced fears about physical capacity are often reported as sources of anxiety among older, and in vitro fertilisation-induced mothers. In this study, we apply a specially adapted method for analysing news media content to a week's selection of material in the British media following the dissemination of research at an international medical conference. Our findings suggest, despite some positive commentaries, that much negative discourse is circulated by the media about older mothers, from implied claims of selfishness (older mothers as 'delaying' conception) to violations of the 'natural order'. These latter claims reflect the long-standing ambivalence by the media generally towards scientific advancement, but they also reveal continuing resistance towards unorthodox lifestyles.
Bibliographical noteThis is an electronic version of an article published in Shaw, Rachel L. and Giles, David C. (2009). Motherhood on ice? A media framing analysis of older mothers in the UK news. Psychology and Health, 24 (2), pp. 221-236. Psychology and Health is available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/08870440701601625
- in vitro fertilisation