This is the age most women think is too old to have a baby
The age in which women become mothers have been slowly, but steadily increasing over the past couple of decades, reaching an average age (here in Ireland) of just over 31 years old.
Waiting until your 30s to start a family has become the norm these days, with many women wishing to have established a career and financial security before embarking on motherhood. To others, it might be circumstances outside of their control, like fertility struggles or simply lack of a significant other to have said baby with, that is delaying things.
But why we are all OK with mums being older when they have babies nowadays, is there any such thing as too old when it comes to starting a family?
Yes, according to a survey in the UK. After asking British women about age and motherhood, it was revealed that most of them agreed that 44 is the magic number – meaning would-be mothers should stop trying for a baby when they hit this age.
The reasons given included: it’s ‘unfair on the child to have old parents’; increased health complications; and the fact that, apparently, it’s ‘unnatural’.The poll of 2019 women was conducted by the Private Pregnancy UK Show, which is calling for the Government to do more about educating women about ‘leaving it too late’. The research was conducted with the intention of kicking off a debate on age limits for medical intervention and assisted fertility. But it also called for greater fertility awareness for adult women, and for sex education to include information on fertility options.
The numbers of women over 40 having babies have doubled in the past twenty years – this is down to careers, the cost of childcare and homes, failure to meet The One any sooner and advances in fertility treatments.
But many believe it is more important than ever to educate women about their fertility – and the options you have should a pregnancy not happen naturally.
"There isn’t enough education available to women, many of whom still believe they can go on forever," said Dr Amin Gorgy, fertility consultant and IVF specialist at the Fertility and Gynaecology Academy.
Depressingly, a woman’s fertility potential declines rapidly after the age of 35 and drops even faster after the age of 40. "The ideal age for women to become pregnant is in their twenties and early thirties," said Dr Gorgy. "Theoretically, through egg donation and using eggs frozen at an earlier age, women can conceive at any age – in fact, the receptivity of the womb for implanting embryos declines only after the age of 54. But usually we take 50 as the age limit for assisted conception. Only under special circumstances will we consider someone beyond the age of 50."
IVF, unfortunately, is also less often successful as we get older.
"IVF must be put into perspective if used after the age of 35, as the chances of having a live birth with an IVF cycle declines dramatically with age," Gorgy explains. "For example, there is a 20 per cent success rate at the age of 40 which falls to just 1 per cent above the age of 45."