Risky business: Constructing the choice to delay motherhood in the British press

Kirsty Budds, Abigail Locke, Vivien Burr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last few decades the number of women becoming pregnant later on in life has markedly increased. Medical experts have raised concerns about the increase in the number of women having babies later, owing to evidence that suggests that advancing maternal age is associated with both a decline in fertility and an increase in health risks to both mother and baby. In recognition of these risks, experts have warned that women should aim to have their children between the ages of twenty and thirty-five. As a consequence, women giving birth past the age of thirty-five have typically been positioned as older mothers. In this paper we used a social constructionist thematic analysis in order to analyse how older mothers are represented in newspaper articles in the British press. We examined how the topics of choice and risk are handled in discussions of delayed motherhood, and found that the media position women as wholly responsible for choosing the timing of pregnancy and, as a consequence, as accountable for the associated risks. Moreover, we noted that newspapers also constructed a right time for women to become pregnant. As such, we discuss the implications for the ability of women to make real choices surrounding the timing of pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-147
Number of pages16
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Issue number1
Early online date18 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013


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