The age of 35 has become somewhat of a psychological threshold for many women who focus on their career, but still plan to have children.
According to Dr. Laura Gaudet, a high-risk obstetrician at the Ottawa Hospital in Canada, one of the most common questions that women ask her is: how long can I wait to have a baby? Or, more to the point: is it too late to start a family after the age of 35?
Although it is a known fact that fertility in women decreases as they get older, Gaudet said that there is no magic age limit for pregnancy that applies to all women.
“Practically speaking, from an obstetrician’s point of view, the sooner women can have their babies the better. But there’s nothing magical about 35 that says you have to have them before 35 compared to after 35,” Gaudet, who specializes in pregnancy risk factors, said in a statement.
Her point of view is shared by Dr. Nicole Todd, a gynecologist at the BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre in Vancouver. Todd told Global News that the decline of fertility occurs gradually and is in no way related to turning a specific age.
In fact, science has not yet fully established at what age in a woman’s life fertility begins to decline, Conversation states. The media outlet argues that the best age to have a child, as perceived by women of each generation, has more to do with the cultural and economic factors than with their biological clock.
"There’s nothing magical about 35 that says you have to have them before 35 compared to after 35,” a high-risk obstetrician says. https://t.co/0dfd9sd2Hr
— Globalnews.ca (@globalnews) April 22, 2018
At the same time, Atlantic debates that women’s anxiety about their chances of procreation later in life, dubbed “baby panic,” is actually fueled by outdated scientific data conducted as early as the 17th century.
Fifteen years ago, women were being told that they should have children while they’re young or risk having none at all, Atlantic reports. However, Todd clarifies that there is no time limit when it comes to trying to get pregnant.
“There absolutely is no deadline.”
Gaudet explains that, while age clearly factors into the possible risks of pregnancy, women over the age of 35 can still go through an uneventful pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby.
When it comes to the link between age and a decrease in fertility, Gaudet points out that pregnancies typically become “few and far between” by the time women reach the age of 42 or older.
The high-risk obstetrician also discusses other risks of late motherhood, among which she lists the risk of miscarriage, and of the baby developing chromosome disorders, such as Down syndrome.
Although these types of risks cannot be controlled, there is, however, a third category of age-related pregnancy risks that have to do with a woman’s general state of health and which are significantly more manageable.
These include diabetes and hypertension, both risks of pregnancy complications that increase with age, and which Gaudet says can be curbed through physical activity and a healthy diet.