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The double-edged sword of older motherhood

older mom and baby.jpg

A recent Pew Research Center report showed that today's moms are older than their counterparts from two decades ago, and writer Rachel Lehmann-Haupt has a thoughtful piece on the Huffington Post today about older motherhood. The trend of having babies later in life, she says:

is not only a result of economics and education, but also technology and changing social norms. It's also because people are living much longer-nearly twice as long. The various stages of our lives -- childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and beyond -- are all extending, and sometimes shifting the sequence as well. Technology and feminism have made it possible for women to make choices that couldn't have made even a generation ago...

This is a good thing, she argues, as older women generally have greater security and stronger marriages. But it's important to remember that though women have more financial power over the age of 35, they also have less reproductive power. As we've all heard many times, egg quality at that time begins to decline, which can make pregnancy "both riskier and harder to achieve." And:

Even though advanced reproductive technology gives us new freedom, we must carefully consider how much we should depend on this technology just because we have it. How much risk can we take and how much emotional and physical stress should our bodies go through in order to get pregnant older? How old is too old?

It's a good read, and one that encourages women - "no matter how scary some of the realities of fertility" - to take a serious look at their (older) body's reproductive possibilities.

Photo by surlygirl

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