With pregnancy and late motherhood, a new trend has emerged. Becoming a mother at a later age has been more and more the norm for Generation X and Y. With the workforce consisting almost equally of men and women and additionally the desire for personal development and careers for women, the age of first time pregnancy has risen radically over the past 20 years.
A study from 2016 shows that the lowest average age of first time mothers is found in under-developed countries such as Angola and Niger. The richer countries with better standards of living show a significant rise with countries such as Australia, Greece and South Korea having the highest average age with numbers as high as 31 years. Denmark is also in the lead with 29 and the UK with 27. In the US numbers have also increased with 25 years being the average age of a first time mother.
These numbers have been on the rise for many years and have naturally followed the progress of women’s participation in the workforce.
The trend that has developed more recently is the rise in first time mothers over 40. For the first time since after 1947 and the post-war years, there are more women giving birth after 40 than before 20. It is not something that has been given a lot of media attention, but it is an extremely important issue in society in so many ways.
Experts have for many years told women, that they should make sure to have children before the age of 35, the reason being that the window of fertility drastically comes to a close in the mid and late 30ies. This new trend shows us, that maybe we should not be so scared of missing out, and that it is possible for women past 40 to become not only mothers late in life, but to earn the right to not be labelled an “old” mother.
Why is late motherhood a new trend?
After WWII came the years of the baby boomers. It was a combination of events, leading to the explosion in child births. As a reaction to the war and a desire for a more normalized home life, women of all childbearing ages became pregnant making the rise in fertility in women over 40 significant.
Since war is no longer an influence, there are other factors affecting the age of fertility. Since the trend is significant in western societies we can look to the way of life in this part of the world.
Work, career and financial stability has a huge impact on women in the fertile years. Since women are important to the workforce and at the same time still have to fight for their careers perhaps even harder than men, they tend to put off having children for a while in order to focus on establishing a career. At times it is preferable for a woman to know her career is in place, and that she is valued at her firm; knowing there is place for her, when she returns from maternity leave can make all the difference.
Being financially independent and perhaps being a homeowner is important to many couples. The priority to have the financial ability to give your future children a good and secure upbringing before bringing them into the world can make the wait significantly longer than anticipated.
With more than 50% of all marriages ending in divorce it is not surprising that many couples hold of having children, till they are absolutely certain the relationship will last – even though we all know, that you can never be sure. Dating and finding the right person to share your life with is not always an easy task. The increase in numbers of singles living on their own in major cities also show that finding someone to co-parent with is not that easy. More and more single women turn to insemination to have children before it is too late.
The question if women are now more fertile in their 40ies than before, or if late motherhood is by choice, is equally important when viewing this trend. There could be some indication, that this might be a factor.
What are the risks of late motherhood?
Over the years, research has proven that with older mothers the percentage of complications involved in childbirth is higher than for women under 35.
With the increase in age comes also the increase in doctor’s appointments and scans to follow the mother and child closely. This could also be an indication, that some complications are noticed with older women, that are not generally journaled with women under 35 that receive less attention from medical staff.
Complications that are more frequently occurring with higher fertility age:
- High blood pressure and related illness
- Increased fatigue
- Foetal distress
- Placenta previa
- Placenta abrupto
- Emergency cesarean section
A very interesting aspect to this new trend is, that if the fact that women look after themselves better, drink less alcohol, don’t smoke, eat more healthily, exercise more have an impact on the female window of reproduction, are all these health improvements also an indicator of complications in pregnancies and labour becoming less frequent?
With women becoming mothers at a later stage in life, hopefully society will become more open in terms of accepting late motherhood. There is no question, that there has been some stigma connected to being an older mother. Women who have chosen to have children at a later age have been presented with many different and at times insensitive reactions and hopefully this new trend will make it less stigmatized and perhaps even respected to choose to become a mother at a time, that you choose for yourself.
Visit Graviditet.dk to learn more about pregnancies, cesarean sections, complications and child birth in general. At our website you can find in depth articles on cesarean delivery and complications. Find out when you are the most fertile and how long the window of fertility is with every cycle. Get the best shopping lists to make your home welcome the new born. The topics are endless. Drop by our site and get inspired as well as enlightened.