The clinical literature suggests that the physical, emotional, and financial investment associated with fertility treatment makes it difficult for previously infertile women to transition into new motherhood. Yet no studies have been conducted that explore the lived experience of becoming a new mother from the unique perspectives of previously infertile women. This descriptive phenomenological study fills this gap.
Twelve first-time, previously infertile mothers aged 27 to 43 years, were interviewed twice. The first interview focused on eliciting descriptions of motherhood in the early postpartum period after overcoming infertility. The second interview validated the interpretations from the first interview and provided additional information and reflection. The data were analyzed using Colaizzi’s approach.
Two main themes emerged that described the early postpartum experience of first-time, previously infertile mothers: 1) Lingering Identity as Infertile; and 2) Gratitude for the Gift of Motherhood. Participants reported that their lingering identity as infertile and immense gratitude for the gift of motherhood propelled them to establish unrealistic expectations to be the perfect mother. When they were unable to live up to being the perfect mother, they censored their feelings of inadequacy, guilt and shame.
Findings from this study sensitize healthcare providers to the difficulties faced by previously infertile women during their transition to motherhood.