Delayed Parenting: Fertility and Age

From the time they reach their 20s, women are advised to hurry up and get married as soon as possible so that they can have children before they reach a certain age when it’s too late. They're told that there's a "biological clock" that's ticking. But in recent years, countless women have challenged those warnings by having a later in life pregnancy--as late as 48 to 50 years or older in some cases--thanks to modern assisted reproductive technologies.

A 2012 report on births in England and Wales found that over half of new mothers are aged over 30 and the number of new mothers over 40 has quadrupled over the previous 30 years. In the United States, the average age of new mothers went up from 21.4 to 25.0 over the period between 1970 to 2006.

The Trend of Delayed Parenting

Delayed parenting is a term used to describe women who decide to wait until their later years in life (usually past 30 or so) to have a baby of their own. There are a number of theories about why this is the case. One theory is that more women have entered the workforce and are spending their 20s and 30s running businesses and prioritizing their careers over having a family. Some women simply don’t want to be tied down with the responsibility of having children in their younger years. Others just haven’t found the right person to be their partner in starting a family.

Risks and Benefits of Delayed Parenting

It is important to examine some of the risks and benefits surrounding delayed parenting. Is it successful for most people? It is widely known that there is a higher risk of miscarriage among older moms. Further, according to many doctors, there is an increased risk of disorders like down syndrome in babies born to mothers over 40.

However, there are also benefits to delayed parenting that should be considered. For one, studies have found that the lifetime earnings of women who wait to have children increase by 9 percent each year they delay parenthood. Also, older women tend to have their lives more together and are less stressed compared to younger women, so they can parent more efficiently.

Fertility Treatments Available

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of the most common commonly used procedures for people who choose delayed parenting. The mother has a fertilized egg implanted into her uterus (the egg has already developed into an embryo). Initially, the mother must take hormones to produce multiple eggs, which are then retrieved to begin this process. The success rate for pregnancy and birth after in vitro fertilization is around 22.4 percent, according to CDC statistics. Success rates can vary depending on the age of the birth mother at the time of IVF treatment.

Precautions for Older Moms

Though there have been many successful pregnancies for older moms, there are also some precautions that a woman should take when deciding to have her children later on in life. About 10 percent of babies born to older mothers are born premature. Women over the age of 35 also have a greater risk of miscarriages when they become pregnant. For these reasons, it is important for a mom-to-be who is over 30 or 40 years old to take it easy, get rest and eliminate stresses from her life. It’s also important for a woman of a certain age to prioritize maintaining her own health and getting regular checkups so that she can enjoy a happy, healthy life with her child as they both progress through life.