This week new figures released from the Office for National Statistics show that for the first time, there are more women giving birth over the age of 35 than aged under 25. 59% of all births are still within the 25-34 year age group, but the increase in the over 35s is noticeable.
No sooner had the statistics been released, then the inevitable outcry from the medical professionals as well as self-important reporters and general busy bodies solemnly reminded us that fertility declines from the mid- thirties onwards and that there’s a greater risk of miscarriage and problems in childbirth.
I wasn’t at all shocked at all by the statistics. In fact, I’m surprised that this trend hasn’t happened sooner. Most of the people with kids I know have had their children in their 30s with the majority being over 35. I also know of more people who have had children in their 40s than in their 20s.
Similarly, the outcry is nothing new. We’ve heard all of the tales of doom and gloom before. Yes, there are risks to be aware of about having children later in life, but as I’ve witnessed from several friends, there can be risks during pregnancy and with childbirth at any age.
The point is that the experts and scare mongers are all assuming that women have a choice about when they have their children. Yes, many women are delaying becoming a mum because of work or for financial reasons, but sometimes there just isn’t a choice. What happens if you haven’t met the right man in your 20s or 30s? If a couple get together in their 40s shouldn’t they be entitled to have a child?
Is there a “right” age for having a baby? I don’t think so. My mum was 25 when she had me, the eldest of 3. I was 36 when I had my first daughter and 2 weeks away from being 38 with my youngest. As I’ve often discussed with my mum, there are advantages and disadvantages of both.
Here are My 5 Positives on Being Classed as an “Older” Mum:
- I’ve done a lot before having kids. From travelling the world to establishing a career to staying out partying and getting drunk a lot.
- A lot of these life experiences including all the highs and lows will hopefully help in my parenting skills in the future. (Not the getting drunk stuff).
- I’ve gained a lot more confidence with age. My outlook has changed as I’ve got older, I still worry about things but not nearly as much as I did when I was younger.
- More financially stable – we are not rich, but we have a home and can support ourselves and our family much more than we ever could have done 10 years ago let alone 15 or 20 years ago.
- More emotionally mature. What can I say, I’m a late developer, I can’t contemplate having a child at the age my mum did. I was just too immature.
Is 40 a better age to have a baby than 20? There’s simply no right or wrong answer. Yes, I believe that this trend of older mothers will continue to rise as women carry on delaying motherhood either through personal choice or purely because there is no choice.
Whatever the age of the parents, having a baby is a gift. It’s the most exhausting, exciting, hopeful, excruciating and magical thing ever.