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Becoming a Mother in the Context of Sex Work: Women's Experiences of Bonding with their Children

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/04/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Health Care for Women International
Issue number6
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)663-685
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date4/08/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Many females engaged in sex work are mothers, often experiencing poverty, violence, marginalization, and psychological distress, factors also found to affect parental bonds. However, little is known about how this context impacts the bonding process. Given the ubiquity of sex work across geographical territories, understanding the relationship it has with mother-child bonding is an important international consideration in providing health care for sex working mothers and their children. Therefore, in this study we sought to explore women’s experiences of bonding with their children in the context of sex work. We interviewed six women in the UK who were sex working during the first two years of their child’s life about their bonding experiences and analysed transcripts using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. We identified four themes were identified: (1) the complex process of bonding; (2) the role of powerlessness on bonding; (3) the powerful impact of receiving help, and (4) new perspectives of the body and sex work following motherhood. Findings contribute to the research literature on bonding by emphasising the value of supportive care and the importance of social context, indicating specific factors to inform psychological support among sex working women.