Stop lecturing women to have children younger, top doctor says

Having children later in life is an irreversible trend, says Britain's top maternity doctor, so health professionals should stop warning women that they ought to have their babies before the age of 35

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The ever-increasing number of women having babies later in life is an ‘irreversible trend’ and there’s no point warning us that we’re better off having children before the age of 35, says Britain’s top maternity doctor.

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With the average age of motherhood  in England and Wales now at 29.8 years (and the age of fatherhood increasing too), Dr David Richmond, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says ‘older’ motherhood is here to stay – and he can understand why.

“Older women becoming mothers is a trend that’s here to stay, I believe,” he told The Guardian today, “I think it [the trend] is irreversible because of increasing equality in the social, professional, financial and corporate environment we live in.

“If you put a man in that situation, they would do exactly the same.”

Later maternity can reduce a woman’s chances of conception and involve a greater risk of miscarriage, a more complicated labour, and medical intervention at the birth.

And, for that reason, many health professionals have been working hard in the past few years to get the message across to women that they shouldn’t delay motherhood much beyond their early 20s.

But, says Dr Richmond, most women who leave it later know the risks, and don’t need a lecture.

“I would have thought that that message [about the potential risks] is out there. I think those who are delaying their pregnancies are, by and large, well aware of what’s happening.

“I think society’s changed. I don’t think health professionals can influence that societal change.”

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MadeForMums Writer – Jessica Gibb

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