When I reported 40 is the New 20 for Having Babies three years ago on this blog, many people expressed their opinions (often negative) and their concerns in terms of health issues. What will you and they say now that older women, over 50, are becoming mothers in significant numbers?
Before you respond, consider some of the facts journalist Lisa Miller reveals in her story showcased on the cover of New York magazine: "Is She Just Too Old for This? New parents over 50-child-rearing's final frontier." Footnote: two women in India had babies in their 70s.
There has been an increase of 375 percent in women over 50 giving birth. In numbers, according to New York, that's 541 of the 8,000 babies born to women over 45 (based on 2008 statistics). Physically having a baby at this advanced age is not easy, however, with the availability of donor eggs or frozen eggs or embryos, hormones to bring a woman out of menopause to allow for pregnancy, and technology to monitor as well as determine a potential mother's health, it is clearly possible.
Many of the reasons Miller offers for the "final frontier" option as she calls it are the same ones people (young and older) have for keeping their families small, increasingly to one child. To explain 50+ women's decision to become mothers, Miller notes:
Before you tick off all the reasons why having a baby after 50 might be a bad idea, consider all those reasons why it might be a good one-starting with how much this child is wanted. And, think too, about the women who tried earlier and had difficulties becoming pregnant before you call older women who have babies selfish. Perhaps you harbor feelings of ageism and the stereotypes that go along with that.
Is the issue different than judging people who choose to remain childless or decide one child works best for them? Maybe you still believe that giving birth or adopting in your 50s is pushing the envelope too far?
Miller, Lisa. Parents of a Certain Age: Is there anything wrong with being 53 and pregnant? New York Magazine, October 3, 2011, pp. 44-48, 102-103.
Newman, Susan. The Case for the Only Child: Your Essential Guide. Health Communications, 2011.
Copyright 2011 by Susan Newman