Healthcare providers witnessing the birth of a child are not only witnessing an infant take its first breathe, but also the changes in a family, primarily a mother. Ramona T. Mercer sees becoming a mother as a very elaborate, and life-long experience. Mercer developed the Maternal Role Attainment Theory (MRA), which was later renamed Maternal Role Attainment Theory- Becoming a Mother (BAM). Her theory provides a framework for mother and infant bonding throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Mercer (2004) believes that each mother will have a unique experience in adapting to her new role, following a four step process and may be influenced by several factors including maternal age, socioeconomic status, and health status (p. 227).
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Mercer updated her theory in 2004, renaming it Maternal Role Attainment Theory- Becoming a mother. It was suggested by Walker, Crain, and Thompson (1986), that MRA should be retired because attaining the role of mother was a static situation, and motherhood is a life long changing event (p. 228). Mercer’s theory is evidence based, and has evolved since the original publishing based on her commitment to research and validation within practice.
Mercer (2004) followed Thornton and Nardi’s four stages of acquisition: anticipatory, formal, informal, and personal identities, to identify how a mother reaches MRA (p. 227). When establishing the BAM, Mercer changed the names of the stages, but the meanings stayed essentially the same. The commitment, attachment, and preparation (anticipatory) stage is the time during pregnancy when a mother is preparing for her new role, and forming a relationship with her unborn baby. Mercer (2004) states that a woman’s active involvement during this time has been linked to positive adaption of motherhood (p. 231). The acquaintance, learning, and physical restoration (formal) phase begins when the baby is born and lasts until about 6 weeks postpartum; the mother begins care-taking and getting familiar with her baby. The new normal (informal) phase begins as a mother is starting