Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock!
As women age, we become aware of the fact that our fertility is decreasing. Many of us hear our biological clocks ticking down and aim to reproduce early on in our lives. But for some of us this may not be an option as life could have various twists and turns planned before we can comprehend having children!
Trends shows that more and more ladies in the developed world are becoming first time Moms over the age of 35. These Moms are classified as “advanced maternal age”.
- Recent statistics from the USA show that for women aged 30 through to 44, the birth-rates were the highest they have been since the baby boom era of the 1960s.
- In the UK the average age of mothers has been steadily increasing since the 1970s. In 2015 more than half of the births in the UK were to mothers aged 30 and over.
Well the good news is ladies that if you a first time older Mom (just like me!), various studies show that it is in fact beneficial to be an advanced maternal age Mom!
Yes it is true that the risks to yourself and your babies’ well-being do increase if you delay childbearing. The older you are, the more likely you are to have diabetes and high blood pressure which could negatively impact your pregnancy. Miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, placenta praevia, pre-eclampsia and placental abruption are more prevalent in older women. There is also an increased risk of Down’s syndrome, pre-term birth and lower birth weight.
These risk are very real and add additional things to worry about on your pregnancy journey. However there are also benefits which accrue to the children of first time older Moms. So it is not all doom and gloom if you are an advanced age Mom. In fact there is plenty of good news if you are a first time older Mom. Below are some of the benefits accruing to those who delay child bearing till later years.
Older Mom’s thrive according to the latest finding coming from a study of 4,741 mothers and children in Denmark, published in The European Journal of Developmental Psychology.
Their findings indicated that older moms resorted less to verbal and physical punishment than younger moms did. The children of older mothers also had fewer behavioural, social and emotional problems than kids of younger mothers. Children of older Moms display better outcomes due to the fact that older Mom’s exhibit more psychological flexibility, more cognitive flexibility and the ability to tolerate complex emotional stimuli from their children. Older Moms seem to thrive easier! It should be noted that the study controlled for factors like income and education, and attributed the results mostly to the greater patience and steadiness that extends to adults as they age.
Being an older first time Mom may help you live for longer! In a study of 28,000 women in the USA in 2016, it was found that those you had their first child after the age of 25, were 11% more likely to live to the age of 90 compared to those who become mothers younger. Furthermore those who had two to four children were more likely to live longer than those who only had one child.
The study did not delve into the causal effect of this relationship, however it is plausible that the older Moms were healthier to begin with. Additionally these ladies may have delayed childbearing in order to pursue their education and career which in turn would boost their income earning capacity. This subsequently would provide them with the means to access better healthcare and attain longevity.
In a study performed by the London School of Economics, it found that children of older moms tended to be more intelligent than children born to younger mothers.
The researchers believe children born to mothers over the age of 35 are more intelligent due in part to their mother’s socioeconomic background. For instance their education level and career placement as well as the fact that these Moms are less likely to smoke during pregnancy. Older Moms are also more likely to take pre-natal vitamins during pregnancy.
Children of older Moms are taller and smarter as found in a 2016 study in Population and Development Review done in Sweden. The investigators surveyed 1.5 million men and women in Sweden and found that those born to older mothers were more physically fit, had better grades when they were in school and were more likely to attend university. These kids also had a small height advantage over children born to younger mothers.
So there you go, although the risks do increase if you delay childbearing till later years, there is also good news if you are a first time older Mom. Various studies have pointed to the advantages which accrue to the first time older Mom and her offspring. It is worth remembering though that each and every pregnancy is unique. And so much depends on the Mom’s attitude and her approach, for instance if she is striving to reduce her stress profile, and making her child and pregnancy a priority. The support that Moms receive from their partners and family over this delicate time period is also vital. It seems to me that a happy, healthy and relaxed Mom should have a healthy pregnancy and baby, despite her age! So if you are a first time older Mom like me, good luck and here’s to having a healthy, stress-free pregnancy!