The official site of the book Better Late Than Never Baby - Becoming a Mother Later in Life, written by Serena Kirby.

If you're over age 35 and about to become a mother - this is the book for you.

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8

I’m One Mad Midlife Mother!

I’m mad! I’m so mad I just might explode. I’m sick of the media constantly bombarding older women with negative information and negative sentiments about later life motherhood.

They say we’re selfish: selfish for putting career before children, for leaving motherhood until later, because we’ll burden our offspring with caring for ill and ageing parents.

I say most first time older mothers don’t choose to have children later, it just happens that way. We are also far from selfish because every mother knows that motherhood forces you to become self-less as you have to put the needs of your child before those of your own.

They say we suffer overwhelming fertility issues and even say women will be left disappointed and childless if we leave it too long.

I say reduced fertility due to age alone is not as widespread as you think. Research shows that most fertility problems are not the result of female age. Medical conditions, such as the dreaded (and fertility crushing) endometriosis, affects one in ten women and the figures are probably much higher as many cases (mine included) go undiagnosed until trying for a baby. And, almost half of fertility problems can be traced back to the man. Most women I interviewed for my book didn’t use IVF – they got pregnant the old fashioned way – by having regular sex, at the right time of the month.

They say we are ‘high risk’ and that we’ll suffer more complications during pregnancy.

I say that research shows most older mothers have uncomplicated pregnancies and give birth to babies that are perfectly healthy.  There are a whole swag of ‘complications’ that have been said to be caused by age but more recent research is beginning to show that this link is not as strong as first thought. American older mother expert Dr Julia Berryman once said,  “From a pregnancy point of view, a healthy woman of 38 is less at risk of complications than an unhealthy woman of 28.”

They say older mothers are responsible for the growing rate of Caesarean births because birthing a baby when you are older is risky.

I say the increased social acceptance of Caesarean births and the propensity by doctors to steer older women towards this form of birth are more likely to be the reasons. A recent University of Queensland study showed that 47.9% of all births in that State’s private hospitals were by Caesarean. Only one-fifth of those women reported having made an informed decision to have a Caesar. This sentiment is echoed overseas as well, with a 2006 American survey showing that one quarter of the women it surveyed (who’d had a Caesarean) reported pressure from a health professional to make this choice.

They say that the increasing Caesarean rate is linked to an increasing number of older mothers who are too posh to push’.

I say the rate of Caesareans is rising in all groups regardless of age and risk factors and this is a proven fact. The perception (by many mothers and medical professionals) that a Caesarean is a safer birth option is undoubtedly contributing to more Caesarean births – especially amongst older women. It may be more a case of considering the baby ‘too precious to push’ than the mother being ‘too posh’.

So to all those that cite ‘age’ as the biggest blight on all things related to motherhood later in life, and who blame us for a multitude of sins – I say, check your facts then leave your prejudice and presumptions at home.

Serena Kirby is a one mad midlife mother and author of Better Late Than Never Baby – Becoming a Mother Later In Life.


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8 Comments

Sharon Munroe

2013-10-03 01:40:42 Reply

I am a big fan of Serena’s writing and am glad she wrote this blog post in this strong tone.
With the trend towards older motherhood (35+) in Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. (my home country) continuing, it’s time to provide better support for women with their pregnancies, childbith and beyond.

I had my first child at 40 the lack of positive and relevant resources was a frustration for me and spurred me to create the nonprofit The Advanced Maternal Age Project (http://www.advancedmaternalage.org). I was looking to providing older moms like me a safe, nonjudgmental place to share their experiences and offer support.

There are a whole host of reasons why women have children later in life. For me, it was a personal decision and a new relationship that determined the timing of motherhood.
I’m now a mother to three children all under the age of 6. It’s hard but so worthwhile. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Serena Kirby

    2013-10-03 08:36:35 Reply

    Thank for your comment Sharon – you are doing amazing work in helping older mothers get the right information and dispelling the myths surrounding us. Am looking forward to The Advanced Maternal Age Project helping to chance public perception in the US.

Richard

2013-10-03 07:17:34 Reply

Great article and good on you Serena. Did someone piss you off? I pity the poor soul!
By the way, I have to say though that the quote from Dr Julia Berryman is not really saying anything at all. I thought that she would be able to say something smarter than a nonsense comment like that.

    Serena Kirby

    2013-10-03 09:04:33 Reply

    Thanks Richard – yes I am annoyed at the negative portrayal of older mothers in the media. I actually like Dr Berryman’s comment – as it reflects that lack of health is more a risk than age. I look forward to your future comments 🙂

paula

2013-10-03 18:29:21 Reply

i am also an older mum having my first at 34 and my 4th at 42 and have copped quite a bit of stigma from younger mums who are a part of mothers groups who think that at my age i am closer to their own mums age and dont quite fit in to their group which makes for some lonely times when i crave adult conversation

    Serena Kirby

    2013-10-04 09:53:16 Reply

    Thanks for your comment Paula – in my mum’s group I was old enough to be the mother of one of the mothers. I too longed for mothers my own age to talk to – ones that could relate to my age related circumstances.

Ceryle

2013-10-03 23:05:36 Reply

My first baby was due on my 34th birthday (he came 2 weeks early by emergency c-section – we tried natural, but had complications). Baby #2 came along when I was 37, by emergency c-section (he was foot-first breach, and tried to kick his way out a week before his planned c-section). Surprise baby #3 came when I was 40, and he made it to the planned c-section – he was transverse breach, so the doctors were never going to let me try that naturally, either.
My mothers’ group is very supportive – I am not quite the oldest there (by 6 months), and they go all the way down to early 20’s mums. We are all mums first. We have cloth nappy mums, disposable nappy mums, and some who do a mix. We have breast feeding mums, bottle feeding mums, comp feeding mums, and we support the decisions that are right for each individual mum and bub.

    Serena Kirby

    2013-10-04 09:51:15 Reply

    Beautiful comment Ceryle – yes I love the blend of mothering styles you find in a mums group. Wow three c-sections and yes there are times when surgical births are needed – regardless of age- and thank god you have three wonderful babies as a result.

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