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Women are leaving having children until later in life. We are becoming a nation of older mothers. The average age at which a mother has her first child in the UK is now 30. Quite a few women are waiting until their 40s to try and conceive. I was 43 when I got pregnant for the first time. So what are the pros and cons of being an older mother?
The Pros and Cons of Being an Older Mother
There are many reasons that women (and men) may be delaying starting a family. Careers, financial considerations and other life choices may have taken a priority over having children.
I know for me that I was happy in my early and mid 30s building a career and living a pretty selfish life. I was also in a relationship with a less than committed man who didn’t seem to want children. But when I did come to start trying for my family at the age of 42, I found being an older parent very much to be a double edged sword.
Pro: I am more financially stable
This was a big consideration to me when thinking about a child. Did you know that the average cost of raising a child up to the age of 18 is £250,000? I certainly wouldn’t have wanted that cost in my 20s. Now that I have had a career for over 20 years, I am in a much better place to provide for children. I have even been able to take time off to be with my little one growing up. I don’t think that I could have done that any earlier in my working life.
Con: It was statistically harder to conceive
In Pregnant at 43 I told you how I was totally discouraged by the gynaecology consultants telling me that it was going to be very hard to conceive. I never let that put me off though, and used ovulation tests to optimise our chances of success. Statistically though, it is harder to conceive the older a woman gets.
Pro: I have had more experience with children
In my job and in my social life I have watched friends and family have children. I’ve played and interacted with them as they grew. So I have much more experience of how to deal with my own child.
Con: I have a lot less energy than I had in my 20s
I get tired easier and sometimes I do not have much energy. Both myself and my partner have been treated with antidepressants and physiotherapists since having a child.
Lifting and carrying a 12kg weight for any distance is hard. Having said this, I was diagnosed with adhesions from having my c-section, which gave me a lot of serious pains and difficulties for the first year after having Elizabeth. This can happen to a mother of any age, but I often wondered if being older slowed the healing process.
Pro: I have a lot more patience than I did when I was younger
My OH may disagree, but I think I am a lot more stable than I was 20 years ago, and am much more able to sit and listen than I used to be. I think older parents are more likely to be more emotionally stable and relaxed. Though I will say I am prone to worry and anxiety, so I don’t think I will ever be a totally relaxed mum where my child is concerned.
Con: I worry that I will be out of touch with youth culture as my child gets older
I do have a worry that I will be seen as being ‘old fashioned’ and won’t be able to keep up with the hipster young mums even in a couple of years when Elizabeth starts school. When she is 16, I will be 60. Will I be totally out of touch?
I also fear the day when I get asked if I am Grandma and not mother. I don’t feel old just yet, and don’t feel I look bad for my age, but will a tipping point come?
Pro: I have more life experience
I do like to think that at 46 I have seen a fair amount of life and know a little more how to deal with it. I certainly know more now than I did at age 25, and want to pass that knowledge on. I’ve done a fair amount of travelling, had some crazy times.
A younger mum may resent having her wings clipped slightly. I don’t really mind that I can’t just go out on a whim any more. I want to be in bed by 10 with a cocoa these days!
Con: I won’t get to spend as much time with my daughter as I get older.
This is possibly the worst con. I may miss out on meeting my grandchildren if Elizabeth doesn’t have children until she is in her 30s, as by then I will be in my 80s. Maybe I won’t be here at all?
I do worry that she may have to care for her aged parents as we get older, as we may suffer health difficulties in our 70s as she is in her early 20s. Just at the same time as I want her to be building a good life, career, relationship of her own.
My own mother is 75. It is sad that she may not see her grandchildren go to university or get married. I can only look after my own health to ensure that I am around for many more years to see as much as I can!
And the biggest pro?
At the end of the day, I think the biggest pro is that I really appreciate what I have right now. My world has been totally changed for the better for having my little girl. I am sure at any age I would have loved to be a mother, but I am so glad that I am doing it today.
I would love to hear from you if you agree, disagree or have any other pros and cons you think I should have thought of. Do comment below, or find me on social media.
Enjoyed this? Why not read about my first few days as a mum in Is Breast Best? When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Work
or how Elizabeth is A Child With Sleep Apnoea
3 Little Buttons
Tales From Mamaville