Treatment of pregnant unmarried women


A researcher from Queen’s University Belfast is to examine how unmarried women who became pregnant from 1945 – 2015 were treated in Northern Ireland.

The project is open to women now living in the Republic, who wish to participate.

Dr Livi Dee, research fellow from the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen’s, is leading the Leverhulme funded project entitled, ‘Invisible Labour: unmarried pregnancy in Northern Ireland 1945-2015,’ which will run until 2025.

Dr Dee is looking to interview women who experienced unmarried pregnancy from 1945 to 2015 for the oral history element of the project. 

Dr Dee, who previously worked on the Northern Ireland Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries research project, is appealing for any volunteers who would like to come forward and share their stories.

She said, “This research will help broaden our understanding of the treatment of unmarried, pregnant women in Northern Ireland, and to recognise the dedication and strength of these women, who often endured societal shame and loneliness as a result of societal expectations.”

This call for participants is open to anyone who experienced an unmarried pregnancy during this time. Areas of interest include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Reaction from friends/family/community
  • The effect of pregnancy on work/social/family life
  • Experiences of medical/post-natal care
  • Experiences of abortion
  • Experiences of miscarriage
  • Experiences of labour as an unmarried pregnant person
  • Mother and Baby institutions
  • Adoption
  • Co-parenting arrangements.

“My previous research has had huge impact, as the oral histories with survivors was a pivotal part of our original report, which has resulted in further investigation and support from Stormont. Although this research is separate from this, I am hopeful it will address those who were not able to contribute previously, either because they did not reside in an institution or did not feel able to contribute beforehand,” said Dr Dee.

If you are interested in participating or would like more information, please contact Dr Livi Dee on Mob: 07784937148 or email: A spokesperson for Queens said all inquiries would be treated in strictest confidence and interviews would be anonymous.