Baby not on board

Illustration by Cara Seccafien

How old is too old for child-rearing?
By Jessica Berget, Editor-in-Chief

Recently, more and more women are opting to have children later in their lives. According to Statistics Canada, women are now starting to have children in their thirties more often. The average age of mothers having first-borns was recorded at 30.3 in British Columbia in 2016, the highest in any province. With how busy many people are these days it’s perfectly normal to start having kids when you’re older. However, I think that deciding to start a family when you’re pushing the late thirties, forties, or even fifties is not a good idea for you or your child.

The fact is, the older you get, the more fertility problems you may experience. These issues have no gender, they can happen both with men and women. According to the American Pregnancy Society, women older than 35 have difficulties getting pregnant because ovulation is less frequent. Miscarriage is also more common at this age because of the increased chromosomal abnormalities—20 to 35 percent of pregnancies in older women than end this way.

Men over 40 are at risk of having children with developmental disorders such as autism, or even stillbirths, an article by The New York Times explains. Other consequences of men’s aging on a child include congenital diseases and psychiatric disorders.

Another reason I think people should avoid having children past age 40 is that you might be reaching maturity during your child’s most important years. When your kid is starting high school or college, you might be well into your sixties or even seventies. As they get older and decide to start having kids of their own, you may be a senior.

In an article by the Huffington Post, one mother echoes these notions with her decision to have a child at age forty. “I regret not thinking about the fact that I will be in my ‘60s when my son goes to college. When we are gone, my husband and I think deeply about his being alone in the world, without a sibling and that we may not ever see him marry the love of his life. It weighs heavy every single day. I know I can’t speak for anyone else, but I regret waiting.”

Sometimes though, life just happens. Maybe you didn’t have the time, energy, resources, or right partner to think about having a child, but you knew you wanted to have one in the future. Sometimes you have no choice but to have a baby when you’re past your thirties.

There is a simple solution for people thinking about having children eventually. According to USA Today, fertility doctors recommend freezing your eggs while you’re still young—but this requires some serious hindsight.

I would think adoption is also a viable solution to cure the baby fever when you’re past your forties and worried about pregnancy complications. You don’t have to go through the stress of pregnancy or deal with any of the fertility problems that might happen, and you are giving a parentless child a chance to be a part of a family. Then again, not everyone is savvy with adoption.

This is not to say there are zero benefits to having a baby at an older age. Perhaps you will be more financially stable or have an established career (and therefore more time to spend with your child). One study says that older maternal age may be associated to an increased life span. However, you should always consider the risks and be prepared to deal with any complications that might arise—or the fact that you may be too old to help your child navigate adulthood.