When time runs out: reconciling permanent childlessness after delayed childbearing

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to examine the experience of permanent childlessness after delayed childbearing.

BACKGROUND: More women are delaying childbearing while they pursue a career, gain financial stability and seek an appropriate partner. However, given that fertility declines with age, there is concern that more women will end up permanently, unintentionally childless after postponing childbearing. There is little known about this growing and invisible group.

METHODS: An interpretive phenomenological analysis was used to conduct the study. A purposive sample of 15 women who identified as being permanently childless after delaying childbearing participated in the study. Data were collected using in-depth semi-structured interviews.

RESULTS: Themes included feelings of grief, loss and isolation; a need to make sense of their childlessness; and a need to rebuild and refocus their lives and identities regardless of whether they had actually tried to conceive during their childbearing years. Women struggled with feelings of regret and the need to reconcile the reality of their choice to delay childbearing based on their values and beliefs about the ideal conditions within which to raise a child with feelings of powerlessness to pursue motherhood when they were likely still fertile.

CONCLUSION: Women who are permanently childless after delaying childbearing experience similar feelings to those who are childless after infertility and failed fertility treatments regardless of whether they tried to conceive during their reproductive years. However, this group has unique needs based on their feelings of regret, powerlessness and responsibility for their childlessness.

TidsskriftJournal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)342-352
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - 2017
Eksternt udgivetJa

ID: 242208092