For ages, women have always been advised to have babies as early as they can. These bits of advice come with their own set of sound reasoning. It has been widely believed that a woman’s ticking biological clock makes it difficult for her to conceive when she plans to have babies later in life. Add to that, certain health issues plague women with growing age and hormonal changes. All this only makes most women to give up their careers or other life plans either to get married or have children, even if they are unsure of it.
But now, in what could be a first, a new study reveals that women who have their last babies later in life may actually outlive those who’ve had their first baby at a comparatively young age (1). A majority of the studies related to pregnancies generally focus on a woman’s health at the time that her first child is born. However, this case-control study specifically focused on the longevity of women who conceived and gave birth to their last child later in their lives. Conducted by The Menopausal Journal using the data provided by Long Life Family Study, it was performed on a group of 462 women (2). The results of the study were quite surprising. The women were divided into two groups – those who gave birth to their last child later in life and lived longer (called cases) and those who had babies early in life but did not survive as long as the other group (called controls). It showed that women who conceived naturally after the age of 33 and gave birth had doubled their chances of living up to 95 years of age.
So, should you now believe that having babies later in life is a healthy option? Let us look at the results of the study from different perspectives before we arrive at a conclusion. There are experts, like Dr. NirBarzilia of the Institute for Aging, who believe that since the study was conducted on women with better longevity genes, the outcome of the study could be due to two reasons – either the women who had their babies later had chances of living longer anyways or women who had babies later aged slowly as their reproductive system got better at a later stage (3).
Whatever may be the case, whether or not you should delay your pregnancy based on the findings of the study is debatable. It is still advisable not to delay your pregnancy if you can to avoid health risks such as Down’s Syndrome in newborns who are conceived quite late and, obviously, the biological clock which reduces the fertility in a woman with age.
The results of the study aside, there could also be another explanation for women who experienced motherhood late in their lives for living longer.
In general, when women are in their early 20’s, they are just about to explore their world and gain life-changing experiences. This self-discovering journey is suddenly made to change tracks and the challenges of a married life and motherhood prove quite cumbersome to many young women. This creates an extremely stressful situation for their tender selves, especially if they end up being denied financial independence.
Even when women are in their late 20’s, they may be at a peak of their careers, and giving up what they have worked so hard for since so many years proves detrimental. Not only that, entering into a long-term relationship in a confused state of mind proves stressful to them, both mentally as well as financially.
However, women in their early to mid 30’s would have gained enough life experiences, have sound financial backgrounds due to their budding careers, and in general would be better prepared mentally to settle into marriage and motherhood. Having a ‘being there, done that’ approach to the rest of the things already, these women now know that the only thing they’ll need to worry about after a baby is their health, which they are prepared for. This situation is comparatively less stressful than the other two, which probably contributes to more self-satisfaction and longevity in them.
Having said this, how or when she plans to have a baby should be left entirely to a woman’s discretion. It is one of those rights that a woman completely deserves!