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This past weekend a dear college friend, at the age of 43, gave birth to her first child. Her baby girl, delivered by Cesarean section, is beautiful and healthy, weighing in at over 8 pounds.
Since our son is headed for college this fall, I marvel at this little gift that arrived so much later in life for her. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), my friend Beth is part of a growing trend of moms that are waiting until later in life to deliver their first child. 2008 Statistics from the CDC show not just a 4% increase in babies born to women aged 40 – 44, but a decrease in babies born to moms below the age of 40.
Why are we seeing an increase in older, first-time moms? Beth explains that there never seemed to be the right time to start a family. “I kept trying to finish college, and save a little money before I had the additional responsibility of a family,” she recalls.
“I went through a sad divorce and then decided to focus on my career.” She was happily remarried two years ago, and had started thinking about a baby. “We had many discussions with our doctor about the risks of conceiving after 40.” Indeed, older moms are at higher risk for miscarriage and their babies have a higher chance of being born with Down syndrome. Like other expectant moms over 35 years of age, Beth’s blood pressure and sugar were carefully monitored. Her doctor also recommended procedures to screen the fetus for possible genetic problems.
I admire Beth because she finished her higher education, launched a successful career, and will now enjoy the gift of a baby. Some other famous ladies chose the same path. Halle Berry, Salma Hayeck, and Brooke Shields all had children past 40. When I had our son at 25, I barely understood who I was or what I wanted to do the rest of my life. As an older mom, Beth has the added bonus of understanding life a little better and feeling secure, financially.
Although I haven’t met the new baby in person, I have chatted with Beth over the phone. I could hear the excitement, relief, and happiness in her voice loud and clear.