“Where there are no tangible medical complications of pregnancy, the risks of childbirth in older women are no greater than in younger women” … Editorial, British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
A warm hello and welcome to Older Mum. I hope you find the information useful. This site is dedicated to all those women who have decided for their personal reasons to embark on parenthood later in life, whether you are over 35, or in your 40′s or 50′s.
Being an older mum is nothing new. Historically women would spread their births over many years. During the late 19th century a woman might become a grandmother by the time her younger children were born. In the 1920s, the average age a woman had her last child was 42.
These days an older mother tends to mean someone who has chosen to have her first child after the age of 35. Given that most of us in this age group tend to be in good shape and are generally healthier than our predecessors, it seems a little outdated to be medically labelled an ”elderly primigravida” (older first time mum/geriatric mother).
Over the last two decades increasing amounts of women have had babies over the age of 35. Figures from the Office for National Statistics often show year upon year increase in fertility and birth rates for this age group. The over-35′s now have the fastest growing birthrates while the number of women having babies in their 40′s have nearly doubled in ten years. Statistics show that in 2010 27,000 babies were born to women over 40 compared with 9,336 in 1989. In fact around one in five women is 35 or older when she gives birth.
Older mums tend to be better educated, more financially stable, confident and settled in themselves. They have the emotional maturity and life experience that translates well to motherhood. They are more likely to *breast feed and breast feed for longer which helps protect against post natal depression. (*this is no judgement on bottle feeding).
Medical research and subsequent media articles tend to focus negatively on the age related fertility risks and other health complications of delaying pregnancy. Often the underlying message is that a woman should drop everything and have a baby before she hits 35 in order to avoid later infertility. If only life was that simple. But it isn’t. It’s not necessarily the case that women ‘put off’ having children but that their life circumstances influence the best time to start a family.
There are many reasons why women decide to have a baby later on; career, financial security, fulfillment of personal goals, travel, illness and not to forget it sometimes takes years finding the ‘right partner’ we might consider having a baby with.
Some of us divorce and have our first or further children later in a second marriage.
Some of us take time out between first and subsequent children to adjust to parenthood or pursue something for personal satisfaction other than being a mum.
Some of us simply aren’t sure we want children or the idea of being a mum is a scary prospect; it can take time until we feel certain we are emotionally and psychologically ready for this enormous life change.
There are also women who have spent years trying to conceive and may have experienced multiple miscarriages before finally falling pregnant in their late thirties or forties. Assisted conception, albeit a challenging route to pregnancy, has also helped to gift a child later in life.
There are well documented mothers who have become pregnant successfully after the age of 50 (and after menopause). Based on ethical opinion, different countries set different age limits on allowing post menopausal women to conceive via fertility treatment. However their bodies are still able to develop and carry their child when fertility treatment has been successful.
The point is that older women DO conceive (whether naturally or via medical treatment) and enjoy healthy pregnancies. Having a baby later in life is a gift and should be embraced.
Famous older mum’s include Nicole Kidman (Sunday Rose at 41), Halle Berry (Nahla at 41), Madonna (Rocco at 41), Marcia Cross (twin girls at 44), Jane Seymore (twins at 44), Cherie Blair (Leo at 45) , Susan Sarandon (Miles Guthrie at 45) and Holly Hunter (twin boys at 47).