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By Claudia Spahr, UK-based author and Fertility Coach.
This was the question asked on BBC Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour (see link below) this week. I always stick up for older moms but it’s not often you get the opportunity to do it in front of over three million listeners on one of the UK’s leading radio shows.
I must admit I had a few sleepless nights before the program, going over potential scenarios in my head, preparing my arguments and generally getting psyched up. And as always with these things you get about 30 seconds air-time to make your point.
(Click here to listen to BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour program on “How Long Can You Realistically Wait To Have A Baby?” (http://www NULL.bbc NULL.co NULL.uk/programmes/p01ccb9d))
The scientific reality of aging eggs
One of the issues I raised on the show was that health, lifestyle and mindset are more important than actual age when it comes to fertility. I don’t like the ageing eggs argument because I believe it’s the three months of follicle ripening which determine how intact the DNA are for creating a healthy embryo.
DNA molecules have the knowledge within them to repair and self- heal, given a nutrient-rich environment. This argument comes from epigenetics and nutrigenomics – the cutting edge in science today.
The truth about fertility statistics
A recent article in The Atlantic (http://www NULL.theatlantic NULL.com/magazine/archive/2013/07/how-long-can-you-wait-to-have-a-baby/309374/) discussed the misleading and outdated statistics on fertility after 35. New data suggests there is only about a four to six per cent dip in fertility from our mid thirties, rather than the scaremongering advice generally fed to us by the medical establishment.
Real figures on fertility after 40 don’t exist because it’s a new phenomenon that so many women over 40 are actively trying to conceive. What we do know is that the abortion rates for women over 40 are identical to those under 16 in the UK; mainly women who assumed they couldn’t get pregnant because of their age, so they ceased using contraception.
Time to stop insulting women
One of the other guests on the show was British TV celebrity, Kate Garraway, who fronts the campaign Get Britain Fertile (http://www NULL.getbritainfertile NULL.com/) encouraging women to have their children young. Garraway is herself an older mom (children at 38 and 42) but says she regrets leaving it ‘too late’ for a third child.
For the campaign she poses as a 70-year old pregnant woman (http://www NULL.telegraph NULL.co NULL.uk/women/mother-tongue/10064463/Kate-Garraway-I-wish-Id-had-my-babies-younger NULL.html) in an attempt to shock women into considering their options. The idea for this exaggerated image may be taken from New York Magazine (http://nymag NULL.com/news/features/mothers-over-50-2011-10/) but either way I find it insulting and damaging to women. It reinforces negative stereotypes and is using fear in a manipulative way. It’s a personal choice which age a woman procreates; an individual freedom no one has the right to dictate or take away.
Interestingly the Get Britain Fertile campaign is sponsored by a multi-billion dollar US-based company. They sell household cleaning and personal hygiene products loaded with toxic chemicals and synthetic hormones; all the stuff that’s making millions of people infertile at any age.
But I doubt they want consumers to know that. It would be very bad for business. Much better to blame women for waiting too long.
Notes for this blog:
Claudia Spahr (http://www NULL.claudiaspahr NULL.com/) is a journalist, IIN Health and Fertility Coach and author of Right Time Baby – The Complete Guide to Later Motherhood (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.com/Right-Time-Baby-Motherhood-Pregnancy/dp/1848502567/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1372806371&sr=8-1&keywords=right+time+baby). She is currently 44 and expecting her third naturally conceived child since turning 40. Claudia also runs HolyMama yoga retreats (http://www NULL.lotusyogaibiza NULL.com/Holymama NULL.html) in Ibiza, Spain for moms and tots.
BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour on “How Long Can You Realistically Wait To Have A Baby?”: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01ccb9d (: http://www NULL.bbc NULL.co NULL.uk/programmes/p01ccb9d NULL. ).
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