Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The problems of being an older mum

“There doesn't appear to be an increase in postnatal depression as it is hormonally driven, but tiredness is a key difficulty, as is reduced flexibility in adjusting to someone else's needs,” she says. “An older childless couple will be accustomed to making last-minute decisions or being free to schedule what they want to do when they want to do it. This goes out of the window with children - from the early days of the four-hourly feeds right through school age.”

(For those who get pregnant accidentally). . .“Some women will have realised there was little likelihood that they would become mothers and altered the ‘ideal self' to make it a closer fit with what seemed possible within their lives - by reducing the perceived value of what they could not have - to protect themselves from disappointment,” she says.

“This may include emphasising the downside of having children and exaggerating the benefits of being child-free. If they have managed that task successfully, they will then feel ambivalent if they find themselves pregnant because the situation requires them to ‘backtrack' on a sense of self.”
Fair enough. But it is worth noting that the risk of accidentally getting pregnant after 40 is low; with the abundance of infertility treatments, I would guess that another problem attaches to even more of these births. I don't think I need to explain to my readers the possible down side of having a child enter a parent's life after being conceived in the opposite circumstance: deperate longing for, expensive treatments to gain, and indeed self-definition through motherhood.
Peter Bowen-Simpkins, medical director of the London Women's Clinic, says that while the risk of having a baby with Down's syndrome increases once a mother reaches 40, the chances of having a healthy baby at an older age are still high.
This statement is just irresponsible, since it ignores the significant increase in the risk each year after reaching 40. For example, at age 44 (the age Sarah Palin gave birth to Trig) the risk is 1 on 40.
“It certainly adds to the strain of the pregnancy, because most chromosomal abnormalities occur in women over 35 and as they get older they are more common,” he says. “Overall, the chance of having a Down's syndrome baby is 1 in 650 before you reach 40 and then it's 1 in 100. But that still means that 99 women out of 100 give birth to a healthy baby.”
*Sputter* I am sure that is of great comfort to the 1% remaining. In what world is this an acceptable risk?

Technorati Tag:


Nursedude said...

With my son, his fiancee` and their now 5 month old son (yup, my grandson), it's one thing to be a 48 year old grandfather who helps out-I just cannot imagine being a full time parent of an infant at my age. When I was at my 25 year HS reunion 4 years ago, I could not believe how many of my classmates had little, little kids. Thank heavens that my wife's hysterectomy a couple of years ago saves me the worry of being a MAC (Midddle aged carelessness) Daddy!

Vagablonde Bombchelle said...

So, according to this researcher/article, there is “only” a 1% chance of having a Down’s baby after 40. Let’s put 1% into prospective to see if it’s an acceptable risk. If the US Postal Service lost 1% of our mail they would then lose 20,000 articles of mail per hour. If doctors performed the wrong surgery on a patient 1% of the time, then 5,000 patients would receive the wrong surgical operation each week. If 1% of every airplane landing was over/undershot then there would be 2 short or long landings at major airports every day. If pharmacists were given a 1% error then 200,000 drug prescriptions would be incorrectly filled out each year. If the electric company had a 1% blackout rate then we would be without electricity for almost 7 hours each month. hospitals making fatal mistakes 1% of the time would result in around 96,000 people dead from hospital errors each year. I know statistically I don’t want hospitals, airlines, doctors, pharmacists, or the electric company to think a 1% chance of “failure” is risky, you think people would apply that same logic to something as important as bearing a healthy child.

sara star said...

And what is the risk of other disorders besides downs? Autism, Cerebral Palsy, and so on?

It all adds up to lower and lower chances of having a healthy baby.