Older Moms, Small Babies

September 10th, 2009

My fellow bed rest mama supporter KeepEmCookin’ asked, “Are older moms at greater risk of having premature babies?” Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding yes!

Since 1982, births for US moms between the ages of 40 and 44 have increased threefold. But in addition to the number of women having children in the later portion of their reproductive years, older women are at a marked increased risk of having hypertension, pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes during pregnancy, multiple gestations (either naturally or because of fertility drugs used to conceive), complications during labor and to deliver a premature and/or a low birth weight babies. Even with all of the technological advances in fertility treatments including the use of donor eggs, older moms still have a greater risk of having complications and children with birth defects and developmental problems. Some would argue that older women shouldn’t have children and that past a certain age, women should be strongly counseled against trying to conceive or having children that they do conceive.

As an older mama, I  want to speak in defense of older moms.

DandV 24weeksThere is a pervasive assumption that women are purposely waiting to have children until later. Rather than start families, the common belief is that women are pursuing career goals, traveling and developing their own interests and living their dreams. While this is true in some cases, it doesn’t represent the full story. For many of us (myself included) we opted to wait until we found the right partner and father for our children before starting a family. As many single women can attest, finding a partner and establishing a solid relationship can be a quest for the Holy Grail. I had no intention of becoming tied to someone who one day I may detest and/or I’d have to contend with over the safety and well being of a child. So I waited and I waited and 6 weeks shy of my 35th birthday, I got married.

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For some women, it just isn’t in the cards and she will never give birth to biological children.  Other women will have children later, in the 40’s; some by choice and yet for others it’s just when they are able to achieve a successful pregnancy.

Regardless of the circumstances, Motherhood Later Rather Than Sooner (Thanks Robin Gorman for coining this phrase!) is definitely here to stay. Those of us who dare (by personal choice or because the choice is made for us) to make the journey as older moms  know that the road is rigorous; fraught with unexpected turns and hidden pot holes. But I myself can attest that the journey is well worth it.

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