Funny how when you’re young you think you have all the time in world. We’re living longer, working longer and waiting longer to find a partner and have babies.
First time fathers in 2006 were 29.1 years old, compared to 27.8 in 1995. At just over 28, today’s first-time mothers are now five years older than those in the mid-1960s. About a third of first-time moms are now well into their 30s before having their bundle of joy. I was one of those moms, giving birth to my son four days before turning 35.
We’re taking our lives into our own hands, right? Yes and no. While it is possible for women to have healthy babies into their 40s and for men to father children into their 70s and 80s, our reproductive systems are at in peak working order when we’re between 24 and 32. After that, would-be parents can face some daunting challenges conceiving, carrying and delivering a healthy baby.
In the Winter 2015 issue of Apple magazine, we look at some of those challenges in the Great Expectations column titled Delaying Parenthood. Maternal fetal medicine specialist Dr. Sue Chandra says for moms, those risks include diabetes, high blood pressure and a more complicated delivery (such as Caesarian delivery). For babies, the risks include a lower birthweight, preterm delivery, Down syndrome and stillbirth. If reproductive technologies are used, multiple births are an added consideration. Another risk is being unable to conceive at all.
If you’re a parent-in-waiting, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada wants you to know these risks and reproductive technologies can’t guarantee you will have a healthy baby or completely make up the loss of fertility caused by aging. The society also recommends you understand the risks of waiting to have a child so you can make informed decisions about when you start your family.
When it comes to having healthy pregnancies and babies, you may have less time than you think. Did you wait to have kids? Why or why not? Share your perspective with us.
See our story at applemag.ca or talk to your health-care professional.