There are many books and articles about whether to have children after the age of thirty. These books deal with the physical or health aspects of having children later. Few, if any, deal with the emotional aspects of the decision. None of them tell you at what age you are too old. In other words, you have to make the decision yourself. After making that decision myself, I have to say that 38 years old was not too old for me.
I think that having a child later in life has many benefits:
- Most people are more stable financially in their 30's and 40's than in their early 20's. With fewer financial problems to worry about, couples can devote more time to their children. A financially stable family can also afford to send children to better schools.
- An older couple has had time to mature. They will be less likely to feel that the child is in the way. Young people are still searching for their own identity and find it hard to share their lives with a demanding child.
- An older woman has had time to develop job skills or a career and would have more flexibility on the job. Even if she chooses to quit and become a full time mother, she won't feel she has given up her whole life to have children. Both my sisters had children when they were 20 years old and the only jobs they have held since then were as daycare workers. They often complain of never getting to talk to adults.
- Men and women who postpone having children usually make the decision carefully. If they decide to have children, they are more likely to feel that parenting must be done well if it is to be done at all.
Of course the benefits listed above apply not just to the parents; they filter down to the children as well. A child who is loved will grow up to love others.
There are some risks to waiting until you are older to have a child. The chances of miscarriage and retardation increase. Getting pregnant may take longer or be more difficult. Common problems of pregnancy such as backache, nausea, varicose veins, and constipation may be increased by age.
You may also be set in your ways. I know I had a hard time imagining where we would fit a baby in our house. At first I was thinking of just clearing out a corner for her crib but realized that she would be a part of the family and deserved more than a corner in a room.
After weighing all of the pros and cons to having a child, my husband and I decided that we wanted to have our first baby. This was about three years ago. I was 36 at the time. We read several books and talked to our doctor. We were told that our age was not a problem.
In June, 1993, I became pregnant. At 16 weeks, I had an amniocentesis to check for any genetic defects such as Downs Syndrome. This is routine on women over 35 because of the increased risk of retardation. No defects were found and after that the pregnancy went normally. In March, 1994, we had a beautiful baby girl.
After spending the most wonderful 9 months of my life (I truly enjoyed the last 6 months of pregnancy, also), I am convinced that we made the right decision.
Bing, Elisabeth. Having a Baby After 30. Bantam Books, 1980.