Middle age, Mothering, Nursing and midwifery, Older mothers, Perimenopause, Phenomenology, Qualitative research, Social support



  1. Morgan, Patricia Ann PhD, RN, CNE
  2. Merrell, Joy A. PhD, RN
  3. Rentschler, Dorothy PhD, RN, CNE
  4. Chadderton, Hugh PhD, RN, MSc


Purpose: To understand women's experiences as older first-time mothers during the transition to menopause.


Study Design and Methods: A hermeneutic, phenomenological study exploring the lived experiences of 13 women aged 39 to 47 when they achieved first-time motherhood. Women were mothering one or more children aged 12 or younger and experiencing symptoms of perimenopause. Data were generated through two in-depth interviews with each woman. Meaning was mutually negotiated through dialogue with the women and simultaneously with the text, as well as through ongoing data analysis.


Results: Four themes emerged: Achieving First-Time Motherhood at Midlife, Intensive Mothering, Out of Sync, and Perimenopause as a State of Uncertainty.


Clinical Implications: Increasingly, nurses and nurse midwives will be caring for women aged 40 and older as they navigate motherhood during the transition to menopause. Through their stories, women can share concerns they have about mothering at an older age, and the effect of perimenopausal symptoms on their mothering experiences. Nurses should offer anticipatory guidance to women who delay motherhood until midlife, provide information about the transition to menopause, and assess the older mother's level of social support. Nurses can help build capacity for support within community and professional resources, such as hospital supported mother/baby and breastfeeding support groups.