Even if you're a working mother, you'd probably agree that juggling a career and a child can be difficult. Meanwhile, the ready availability of multiple forms of contraception has let many women choose when they want to become pregnant, if they want to have a child at all. This has led some mothers to put off pregnancy until later in life, after they've had more time to settle down and establish a job and home.
This may be why the number of women having children after 40 is the highest that it's ever been since 1967, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. This wasn't always that unusual. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that women once regularly had children into their 40s. However, this was before the 1960s, when many women would have a third or fourth child in their middle years. Now, some women are having their first child after 40.
The news source noted that while there are risks to having children later in life, there are a few advantages, too. The children of older parents test better and are usually both physically and emotionally healthier. The parents also benefit, because they usually earn more by delaying pregnancy, and they're generally less stressed from raising their kids. Unlike many other places in the world, the Times highlighted that the United States does not guarantee that new mothers get paid leave. This acts as another reason for them to hold off on having children.
Although the number of over-40 mothers may be up, the source noted that some do worry about raising kids into their late 50s.
"I get scared about that," Deanna Scott, a 45-year-old mother, told the Times. "But am I scared enough that I wish we weren't in this position? Hell, no."
Infertility rates are down
The increase in older mothers may also be tied to recent findings that the infertility rate is down from past decades. More than 30 years ago, about 9 percent of married women under age 45 failed to become pregnant after at least a year without using contraception, according to a recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By contrast, that number's only 6 percent now.
The news source added that women in their 30s and 40s are using treatments such as in vitro fertilization in greater frequency, with the number having doubled in the past 10 years.
What older mothers should know
If you decide to have a child later in life, the Mayo Clinic noted that there are a few risks. After the age of 35, you may need a longer time to become pregnant and there's a greater chance you'll develop gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. To avoid these problems, you'll need to maintain a stricter diet than usual, and possibly use medication. Keeping fit will also prepare you for giving birth. You should also be aware that during fetal development, there's an increased risk of your baby developing Down syndrome. Due to a condition known as placenta previa, which involves the placenta blocking the cervix, you may also need a C-section. While you may not be able to prevent this, the Mayo Clinic suggested that you visit your physician for regular prenatal tests to check for any complications.
However, you're more likely to have twins, and if you're undergoing fertility treatment, you may even have more babies all at once.
When did you decide to have kids? Were you working at the time? Leave a comment and let us know!