Mothers at 50, a growing reality
Late motherhood is a growing reality. The number of women becoming mothers after the age of 45 has increased by 171% over the past ten years. Although not set down in law, private assisted reproduction clinics set the age limit for access to treatment at around age 50. Even the concept of "late" has changed: until recently, it was understood to be around the age of 40 but has since been increased to 45.
There are many debates and points of view surrounding this issue. The cycles of life are much longer now. Previously, people stopped being young very soon, and they had more children. Today, we have children with a very responsible outlook; we look after them more and we cannot do this very early or without financial resources. Moreover, people are no longer old at 60; the age brackets have been stretched and motherhood is a reflection of this reality.
Most women who had children aged 45 or over confess that they would have liked to have become mothers earlier but for professional, personal or fertility issues they delayed motherhood or had no other choice. Nonetheless, they are empowered women who feel very satisfied with the experience and, although they have thought about the generational difference, they feel capable of being mothers and enjoy their motherhood as a gift.
There have always been women who have had children naturally at an older age but experts say that a woman’s fertility declines after the age of 35 and so too does the quality of a man’s sperm. In addition, from the age of 46, it is difficult for a woman to become pregnant with her own eggs unless they were frozen at a younger age.
"I don't think many doctors are in favour of extending this delay in motherhood", says Dr. Alberto Rodríguez Melcón, Head of the Clinical Obstetrics Section at Dexeus Women's Health. "We set the limit at age 50, which is linked to the woman’s reproductive cycle; we have gone over it sometimes, but we need to consider that age functions as a continuum". After the age of 45, the risks for the mother multiply (preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, haemorrhage during pregnancy, foetal growth retardation, etc.). Nonetheless, "when assisted reproduction techniques are used and fertilisation is done with a donor egg (which are young eggs), this eliminates the embryonal risks though not the foetal ones" he concludes.