Objective: To explore the lived experiences of preparing for childbirth for nulliparous women aged 35–44 and determine how mature first-time mothers’ can be better supported regarding childbirth preparation. Design: The research study comprised a cross-sectional qualitative design utilising Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to provide a deep exploration into the experience of mature age women. Setting: Participants resided in South Australia and Victoria, Australia, in regional, suburban and inner-city locations. Participants: Fourteen nulliparous women aged 35–44 were recruited in their third trimester of pregnancy using purposeful sampling. Method: Data were collected by conducting in-depth semi-structured interviews during 28–36 weeks of pregnancy. Data were transcribed and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to identify themes of mature first-time mothers’ preparations for childbirth. Findings: The super ordinate theme “Building confidence for childbirth” describes mature first-time mothers’ experience of preparing for childbirth. This process appears to influence women's information seeking behaviour, expectations of healthcare providers, and reflections on birth planning. Conclusions: Participants sought various support and interactions with healthcare providers, both helpful and unhelpful, with nulliparous women of advanced maternal age undertaking various preparations with the intention of a positive childbirth experience. Participants were seeking support from friends, along with conducting their own independent research and activities. Implications for practice: It is evident that more and more women in developed countries are delaying having children into their late thirties and over, and these women report various levels of support from health practitioners. Healthcare professionals have the potential to foster more trustful relationships and empowering interactions with women, provide various resources regarding childbirth preparation, and sensitive birth planning assistance that supports women's agency along with managing risk. Guidelines based on this and other research in managing the antenatal care of women of advanced maternal age would ensure consistency, particularly in terms of risk management and childbirth.
- Advanced maternal age