Seminar: Charlotte Greenhalgh, ‘Motherhood after 30: Age, Pregnancy, and Parenting in 1980s New Zealand’

In 1982-1983, volunteers from the Society for Research on Women in New Zealand (SROW) interviewed 51 Wellington women who were about the give birth to their first child at the age of 30 or over. Five years on, SROW researchers visited 37 of the women to interview them for a second time. This paper considers researchers’ evolving interest in women’s lives and decision making in the context of international demographic change as women became mothers at older ages. I use their interview transcripts to explore the stories that New Zealand women told each other about pregnancy and early parenthood. The 1980s was a period of transformation to both prenatal diagnoses and medical attitudes to age and risk in pregnancy, especially the risk of foetal anomalies. The records of conversations between women suggest how changes to antenatal care and medical recommendations affected women’s experiences of pregnancy. New Zealand women’s stories help us to understand the nature and significance of the physical, household, and emotional work they have done during pregnancy and early parenthood.

Charlotte Greenhalgh teaches in the History Program at the University of Waikato. Her research on the history of pregnancy in twentieth-century New Zealand is supported by a Marsden Fund fast-start grant. Charlotte was previously an ARC Research Fellow and taught at Monash University in Melbourne.

20 September 2019, 12.10 pm – 1.30pm

Old Kirk 406, Victoria University Wellington

For further information, please contact: Dr Cybele Locke (; 04 463 6774) History Programme Seminar Coordinator.