14/08/2014 12:58 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

41 Is Not Too Old For A Woman To Have A Baby!


According to a recent poll, the average Brit thinks by next year I will be too old to bring a baby into the world. Next year I will be 41.

I was lucky enough to have a son at 38 and every day I'm thankful for that and if it's possible I'd like to provide him with a sibling. It surprises and confounds me that so many people in this country think that's wrong.

Given that I didn't meet my partner until 35, I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and there is also a history of early menopause in my family, it's easy to see how my story could have been different. And for thousands of women every year it is.

Statistics suggest next time around might be more difficult: I'll be 40. But if I'm not able to conceive naturally, will I interpret that as nature's way of telling me I'm too old to be a mum? No, I'll interpret it as a great shame.

Whether or not my fallopian tubes are blocked or my egg supply has depleted is no indicator of my long-term health prospects, life expectancy and ability to be a loving and devoted mother.

It would be a far greater shame if the thousands of women each year – almost 30,000 in 2012 – who give birth over the age of 40 stopped believing it was their right.

It would be a far greater shame if the NHS reduced its age limit for free IVF treatment from 42 to 40 because women over 40 "are too old".

Over a quarter (26) thought that 42, the current maximum age for NHS treatment was too high.

Almost three-quarters believed science – in the form of fertility treatments – should not intervene and help women to conceive beyond "natural childbearing years".

I wonder how these people quantify "natural childbearing years". The number of women over the age of 40 having a baby has increased more than fourfold in the last 30 years, figures show. Given that the success rates of IVF are still low for women over 40, a large proportion of the 29,994 born in 2012 (4.1 of those surveyed was a concern for the health of the mother through pregnancy and birth. Well, thank you for thinking of us. It's great to know you have our best interests at heart. But the majority of us are fully aware of the risks to our own health and wellbeing and we have decided to take that calculated risk, nevertheless.

The risk of miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and high blood pressure are all increased for women over 40 but the majority of women who are in regular contact with their GP and midwife have a healthy pregnancy and birth.

The second fear, concerning almost as many (68 of those polled cited health concerns for the baby as a reason women over 40 should not become mothers. It is true that the risks of having a baby with Downs Syndrome or giving birth prematurely is significantly higher for women over 40 but if thousands of women have healthy babies at this age every year is that enough of a reason to give up on older mothers?

On average, 27 was confirmed as the ideal age to become a mother. It's interesting that anybody could attempt to put an "ideal age" on motherhood. Personally, I was drowning in debt, on a low income and in an erratic relationship at 27.

I could go on by citing all the reasons that make being in your forties the ideal time to raise a baby but I don't need to because in a contradictory twist the survey does this for me.

Of those polled, 31 said they provide more moral guidance, 40 believed they offer greater financial security and, most importantly, 52Slideshow-159037%