Ramona Mercer - Nursing Theorist

The relationship between a mother and child is an important one. The foundation of this relationship is the basis for how the mother and child grow and change together, as well as how the child develops individually. Many nurses work in the perinatal field in order to help foster this relationship, and nursing theory can give them the resources and tools to do it. Nurses can help women develop their maternal roles with the help of Ramona Mercer’s Maternal Role Attainment Theory.


Biography and Career of Ramona Mercer

Ramona Mercer has served as the head nurse in pediatrics and staff nurse in intrapartum, postpartum, and newborn nursery units. For over 30 years, she has done research into parenting in low- and high-risk situations and transition into the maternal role.

She authored Perspectives on Adolescent Health Care, Transitions in a Woman’s Life, and Parents at Risk. In 1990, she received the American Nurses Foundation’s Distinguished Contribution to Nursing Science Award. Mercer is a professor emeritus in the department of family health care nursing at the University of California in San Francisco. She spends her time teaching and writing to educate others about perinatal and maternal nursing.

Some of Ramona Mercer’s works can be found below:

Ramona Mercer’s Contribution to Nursing Theory: Maternal Role Attainment Theory

The Maternal Role Attainment Theory, a mid-range theory, was developed to serve as a framework for nurses to provide appropriate health care interventions for nontraditional mothers in order for them to successfully adopt a strong maternal identity. Though this theory can be used throughout pregnancy and after childbirth to help mothers connect with their babies, it can also be beneficial for adoptive mothers, foster mothers, or others who have had nontraditional motherhood unexpectedly, such as taking care of a relative or friend’s child as the result of a death. The process helps the mother form an attachment to the infant, which in turn helps the infant form an attachment with the mother. This helps in the building of the mother-child relationship as the infant grows.

The primary concept of this theory is the developmental and interactional process, which occurs over a period of time. In the process, the mother bonds with the infant, acquires competence in general caretaking tasks, and comes to express joy and pleasure in the maternal role.

The nursing process follows four stages of acquisition in the Maternal Role Attainment Theory. First is the anticipatory stage, which addresses the social and psychological adaptation to the maternal role, and learning expectations. Second is the formal stage, which is the assumption of the role at birth, and addresses behaviors guided by others in the mother’s social system and network. For example, “My mother always said…” Third is the informal stage, in which the mother develops her own ways of mothering not conveyed by her social system. Finally, the fourth stage is the personal stage, in which the mother experiences harmony, confidence, and competence in her maternal role.

For more detailed information: Mercer’s Maternal Role Attainment