A record number of women in the US are having children in their 40s and 50s – despite the health risks to themselves and their babies.
Women in their early to mid-20s have a 30 percent chance of conceiving naturally each month, but the chance drops to just a few percent in middle age. However, the rise of IVF has changed the rules.
Karen Wilson, 53, of Florida, conceived twins through IVF in 2022, more than two decades after the birth of her son. She told DailyMail.com: “The best thing about being an elderly mother is appreciating the privilege, the whole birth, the whole pregnancy, and not taking it for granted.” Having kids – I think that’s a really big blessing.”
Nancy Zepada, also 53, from Tennessee, gave birth to her first child in February. She was in her 40s when she realized, “I really, really knew I needed a baby,” but didn’t meet her husband until she was 50.
According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Prevention & Control, there were 1,041 births to women age 50 and older in America in 2021. The figure is ten times higher than in 1997, when only 144 births were reported to women in this age group. If surrogate mothers are included, the numbers are likely to be thousands higher.
Karen Wilson, 53, after giving birth to twins earlier this year
Mrs. Wilson during pregnancy with her twins
The graph above shows birth rates by different age groups. It shows that while there has been a decline in the younger age groups, there has been a sustained upward trend in the older ones
Due to the rising cost of living, some mothers are unable to afford children at a younger age. Others postpone motherhood to focus on their careers or have not found a suitable partner.
Older mothers were normalized in Hollywood, with celebrities like supermodel Naomi Campbell, who became a mother for the first time at age 50 and gave birth to her second child at 53. Actress Halle Berry gave birth to a son at the age of 47, while singer Gwen Stefani gave birth to her youngest son at 44.
But being an older mom is not without its risks. Studies show that women between the ages of 35 and 40 have a 20 to 30 percent chance of miscarriage, and the rate increases significantly in people 40 and older.
The risk of babies being born with conditions such as Down syndrome also increases with age. The risk of having a baby with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother, from one in 1,250 in a 25-year-old mother to one in 1,000 at age 31, one in 400 at age 35 and one in 100 at the age of 40.
dr Stuart Fischer, a physician specializing in internal medicine in New York, told DailyMail.com: ““The chromosomes do not divide normally, and this is what causes problems with microtubules in the dividing cells.”
He said: “In mitosis, the cell divides in half and the chromosomes are divided in half. They are pulled by tiny threads called microtubules. If you’re a certain age, they won’t work properly; They develop three and one chromosomes instead of two and two. It’s part of a genetic abnormality.”
Older women are also at higher risk of having children with birth defects, he added, because “the human body seems designed to reproduce at a younger age.”
Women over 40 are also at increased risk of preeclampsia – high blood pressure and protein in the urine during pregnancy, which can be life-threatening – and gestational diabetes – atypically high blood sugar during pregnancy – which can lead to low or abnormally high blood sugar levels and early and difficult birth weights confinement.
Ms Wilson, who also has a 21-year-old son, “always wanted to have more children” before giving birth to twins Lily Rose and Luke Ray in April.
She said, “You realize what a blessing and a true gift it is to be able to have babies this late in life.” “All my friends are all grandmothers.”
However, Ms Wilson noted that there is a downside to being an elderly mother: “The knowledge that I am an older mother and will not spend as much time with them on this earth as I would have if I were a younger mother.”
“My mom just passed away and I’m 53, so I can see the damage that has caused me.” Obviously, I’m sad for my kids because we won’t live forever. But I think the most important thing is that you’re healthy and in the mood to take care of babies.”
In her younger years, Ms Wilson said she “just didn’t find the right opportunity”. “I didn’t meet the right man.”
For the twins, Ms Wilson was able to use the sperm of her 66-year-old partner, who had four children aged between 39 and 21 from a previous relationship. He is also a grandfather to two children and, with the birth of his twins, now has children younger than his grandchildren.
Ms Wilson joked, “Don’t ask me how this is all supposed to work!”
The mother-of-one was nearing her late 40s when she decided she “really wanted it.” [more] Children.’
“The time just flew by and I thought to myself: If I don’t do it now, I’ll never make it,” she said.
She tried to go into foster care but was told she was “too old”.
IVF is one of several fertility treatments available for conceiving a baby. An egg cell is removed from the ovaries and fertilized with sperm in the laboratory. This embryo is then implanted in the woman’s uterus, where it grows and develops.
Twins and triplets are more common when conceived through IVF because more than one embryo is transferred during the procedure.
In April, Ms. Wilson gave birth via cesarean section near Tampa, Florida.
Her twins are now almost five months old, healthy and she can breastfeed them both.
She told DailyMail.com: ‘Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be the mother of two beautiful little babies.’ I’m so happy.’
She added, “I have a lot more patience than I did when I was younger and things like the baby crying and such don’t bother me as much as they did when I had my baby.” [first] Son.’
Despite her joy at having twins as an elderly mother, Ms. Wilson has faced some negative reactions from those around her.
“Friends would say, ‘You’re crazy, why would you do that?’”
“The way I see it, your time is your time.” You could be a 25-year-old mother and die in a car accident. A lot of people say, ‘What do you do when you’re not around?’ But, you know, life is in God’s hands.’
Ms Wilson believes that the number of elderly mothers is increasing because “the opportunities for women are so much greater than when I was young”.
Nancy Zepada, 53, with her son Jason. She told DailyMail.com: “Sometimes I go to the grocery store and people say, ‘Oh, that’s your grandchild’ and I’m like, ‘No, he’s my son’.”
Ms. Zepada, from Tennessee, became pregnant with a friend’s donor embryo and gave birth in February
Meanwhile Mrs Zepada became pregnant with a friend’s donor embryo and gave birth to their first child, Jason, in February.
Ms. Zepada married at the age of 18 but divorced a few years later with no children. She didn’t meet her current husband until she was 50.
She told DailyMail.com: “We are both very excited and very happy.’ He is our joy.’
Most of her pregnancy was uneventful, but in the third trimester Ms. Zepada developed high blood pressure and required medication.
“Overall I did very well. I was very surprised. I managed to get around quite easily. “Like most pregnant women, I had a bit of shortness of breath, but I was surprised that I was able to cope quite well.”
She said, “There are some better known fertility clinics that don’t offer this for older women.” The doctor I went to has even helped older women. He told me that one of his clients was 59 years old.
“I feel good about it. I know there are actually some women who disapprove of women my age having children, even to the point of making them ugly, but really [my son is] very happy.
“My husband is retired so either I or my husband is with him all the time rather than having to pay a caregiver and we’re better off financially than younger people, which is an advantage.” He’s living a very nice lifestyle grow up in which he is loved very much.
Ms. Zepada had always wanted children.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I couldn’t wait to grow up and have my own child,” she said.
“About ten years ago, I really, really knew I needed a baby.”
Ms Zepada said she feels better equipped to become a mother when she is older.
“We are more mature; “We can teach him more things because we have more life experience,” she said.
“When he’s older I’ll probably be less active due to my age, but I’m quite healthy and I plan to live long and be there for his grandchildren and also help take care of them.”