Objective: To examine the factors that influence women’s decisions about the timing of motherhood from a life span perspective.
Setting: Large Western Canadian city with a high rate of infants born to women aged 35 years and older.
Participants: 45 Canadian women aged 20 to 48 years.
Results: Independence, a stable relationship, and declining fertility influenced women’s decisions about the timing of motherhood. Women integrated child developmental transitions into a projected life plan as they considered the timing of motherhood. Partner readiness and family of origin influences played a lesser role. Delayed childbearing has become more socially acceptable, with subsequent negative connotations associated with younger motherhood. Parental benefits have limited influence on the timing of motherhood.
Conclusions: Recognition by nurses of the various and complex factors that influence women’s decisions about the timing of motherhood may flag the importance of pregnancy-related counseling for woman across the fertility life span. Policy decision makers must be cognizant of the need for additional high-risk obstetric and neonatal health services when societal norms encourage women to delay childbearing in favor of completing education and establishing a career. JOGNN, 35, 625-633; 2006. DOI: 10.1111/J.1552-6909.2006.00079.x