As a mom of two children, I often get asked whether I would ever consider having a third baby. The reality is, as much as I love the idea of those newborn baby cuddles and the thought of adding a baby boy into the mix, my biological clock is ticking and I am no longer confident that I feel physically (or mentally) fit enough to go through the experience of pregnancy, labor and sleepless nights all over again.
The reality is, there is no definitive age at which motherhood becomes untenable and whilst scientifically there may be an optimum time for a woman to give birth, a woman’s fertility, fitness and overall health levels will vary hugely from one person to the next.
Are you too old for another baby?
These days, many mothers have their first children later in life, with many modern mothers having their first child in their 30s compared to the later teens or twenties our parents and grandparents may have experienced, but how old is too old? What are the risks of having a baby over the age of 35?
The answer is that the risks of pregnancy and childbirth tend to increase with maternal age. Realistically therefore the older you are, the more risks are involved in having another child.
Whilst your previous pregnancies and births may have been straightforward and free from challenge, there is no guarantee that things will be quite so smooth sailing in pregnancy when you are an older mom-to-be.
As a woman over the age of 35, you may find that it actually becomes harder to get pregnant in the first place, even if you were able to conceive relatively quickly in past. As you get older, your fertility rate and the number of eggs you release tend to reduce as you approach the menopause. Quite simply, this means there is a lower probability of a sperm successfully fertilising and resulting in a positive conception. It’s important to note however that the age at which each woman becomes perimenopausal can vary significantly and isn’t set in stone.
Perhaps more importantly, being an older mother also comes with higher risks during the pregnancy itself, with older maternal ages often seeing a higher risk of miscarriage or premature labor, an increased risk of intervention or cesarean births, as well as higher risk of the baby having birth defects or chromosome issues such as Down Syndrome.
What should you do if you want another baby?
If you are considering having another child or having a child later in life it is recommended you speak to your physician for some advice before trying to conceive.
It’s also important to consider at your overall health and fitness levels too when starting or growing your family – for example two 40 year old women aren’t comparable – you may be 40 but have an optimum weight, excellent diet and high level of fitness which will of course make a difference to your ability to cope with pregnancy.
If you do have another child later in life, you will automatically be monitored more closely during pregnancy, in order to ensure both you and your baby stay healthy throughout. My advice would be to understand the risks involved and take the steps you can to reduce them.
For me personally, as broody as I may at times be, my baby-making days are definitely over!