Women have been told by experts not to put off getting pregnant until their late 30s or early 40s because of increased health risks. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has said it would “encourage” women to have children when they’re “most fertile”, which is usually between the ages of 20 and 35.
A pregnant mum in her 40s is 2-5 times more likely than a preg mum in her 20s to have medical complications, such as pre-eclampsia and diabetes. However, it’s important to remember that the actual risks are still quite small.
“Older women also have higher rates of being induced for labour and having a caesarean,” comments Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives. “Despite this, we support a woman’s decision to choose when to embark upon a pregnancy.”
“There are many reasons for women choosing to have their children later on in life; including a desire to build a career or to achieve financial independence,” says Mary Newburn, Head of Research and Information at the National Childbirth Trust (NCT). “We now need to look at how we can make it possible for women to have career breaks earlier on and to enable them to have children at a younger age.”
The number of mums getting pregnant at 40 and over, is now at a record level. In England and Wales, it rose by 6% between 2005 and 2006, and now stands at 12.2 pregnancies per 1,000 women.