No mother should bring a child into this world until she feels she is fully capable of supporting it and giving it a healthy and happy upbringing. But what if a woman is 30 years old and desperately wants to have a child before the risks significantly increase, what are the dangers? Certainly there is a fair amount of fear mongering regarding discussions of what the latest safe and suitable age for a woman to consider having a child is, much of it unfounded. However, there are many studies that reveal the risks involved with a pregnancy can significantly increase after a woman exceeds the age of 30. While there is certainly no guarantee that something will go wrong, it’s important to be aware of those risks. This list is by no means exhaustive; however, here are several important factors women older than 30 should consider when deciding if they would like to bring a child into the world.
Decrease in Fertility
Though most scientists believe a woman’s fertility doesn’t take a drastic hit until after age 35, fertility levels do began a slow downward descent at around age 30. While it is still quite possible to conceive at 30, the difficulty is slightly higher than it would be if a woman were, say, in her late 20s. With today’s developments in medicine, fertility treatments can help counteract this decrease; however, it’s still something that’s worth noting for women who are 30 and are considering a child. Still, it is worth noting that conceiving can be a difficult process in and of itself; it can be significantly harder once a woman turns 30. If patience is not a virtue of yours, it may be a better decision to shoot for conception prior to age 30.
Higher Risk of Premature Birth
Studies have shown that women in their early 30s have a one-fifth higher risk of giving birth to children prematurely. In and of itself, this isn’t a terrible statistic, as being premature doesn’t necessarily have a long-term effect of the health of a child; however, it does come with its risks, and can make it harder for a child to fully develop, or at the very least may lead to a few extra weeks in the hospital. These studies really apply to women older than the age of 30—specifically, ages 31 to 35—though 30 would decidedly be the turning point at which this risk factor becomes more of a distinct reality.
Physical Fitness (Or a Lack Thereof)
This one has less to do with a woman’s fertility and more with the general passing of time. Naturally, a person’s body breaks down as they begin to age, and a woman who is over 30 is likely to not be as physically fit as she was when she was in her 20s. If this is the case, in can be harder to have a successful childbirth. Certainly this is not an absolute, but it is worth considering if you feel as though your physical fitness may hold you back in being able to conceive a child or have a smooth delivery.
Less Energy Once a Child Is Born
Again, this won’t necessarily be true, as there are plenty of mothers in their 30s who have more time and energy for their children than women in their 20s. However, as people get older, naturally they tend to possess less energy than they did in their younger days. If having youthful vitality is important to you when you bring your first child into the world, it may be considering this factor and, if the timing and other important factors are right, perhaps pushing the agenda to your 20s.
Slightly Higher Risk of Birth Defects
There is minimal correlation between a woman at age 30 having a higher risk of bearing a child that is legitimately developmentally disabled. While premature births do occur in higher instances, by and large this factor is minimal. However, in women older than 30, there is a marked increase in cases of autism for children. One study found that while the national average hovers at about 1 case every 100 births, women who have children over 30 have approximately 3 to 4 children with autism out of every 100 births. The age of 30 seems to be the turning point for this, but any later than that and this risk truly becomes something to consider.
Lack of Time for a Child
This factor is tricky and will vary across the board, but it is true that women at 30 who are in pursuit of their careers may be in a higher position that they would have been in their 20s. It makes sense: one enters the corporate environment and has to pay her dues in order to climb the corporate ladder. It can take years and years before progress is made. Even if a woman of 30 decides that she wants to get pregnant, she may have less of an opportunity to have flexibility with her work schedule, and thus may have less time to raise her child with a hands-on approach. This isn’t necessarily a negative, and there are plenty of excellent childcare services in existence, but it is something that a woman of this age who has a high-pressure career may want to be aware of—and likely already is.
Keep in mind that one doesn’t have to deem waiting until age 30 or beyond to bear children as “putting it off”. Many women simply feel that they aren’t ready until they reach this point. It’s certainly not out of the question to begin contemplating the prospect of starting a family after the age of 30—in fact, given today’s modern medical advancements and the cultural norms of the times, far more women today are considering having their first child at 30 than they were 30 years ago. Making a fully informed decision is the best path to take, and if one does that, then regardless of outcome, they can be prepared. Motherhood is a beautiful thing, regardless of age!