After watching a recent news story on Global BC and considering the average age of my clients, it made me think this is going to be a topic that more and more woman will be interested in reading about. Therefore why not write a quick blog highlighting some key points to think about when deciding to have a baby later in life. Every woman should be able to experience the gift of being a mother at whatever age they choose to do so. I want this article to empower women not deter them.
British Columbia has the highest amount of women having children later in life than all other provinces in Canada. In fact, a quarter of all births in BC have been born to women above the age of 35 and over. This is due to a variety of reasons but one main reason is women who are becoming more established in the work place and having a tough time deciding to give up their executive position they worked extra hard for to start a family. Other factors could be re-marriage and wanting to have a baby with the new partner or they may have been trying to conceive for several years without success leading to alternative solutions such as IVF, surrogacy or adoption.
When considering having a baby over the age of 35 you should be aware of the risks. Some of these risks include miscarriage, gestational diabetes, genetic disorders in the baby such as Down syndrome, premature delivery, placenta previa, high blood pressure, low birth weight baby and increased chance of c-section delivery. Another risk not often considered is the financial “risk” associated with fertility treatments such as IVF as it can be an expensive procedure and not always work the first try. This is something you and your partner should discuss beforehand to ensure you are financially prepared. The risks being said, if you listen to the advice of health care professionals, were healthy before becoming pregnant and are maintaining a healthy lifestyle while pregnant there is no reason why you can’t have a successful pregnancy and an amazing, wonderful experience.
Before getting pregnant...
- Consult a health care provider (preferably one with a background in older-age pregnancies)
- Eat a healthy, balance diet
- Start taking prenatal vitamins which include folic acid
- Give up smoking and drinking alcohol
- Decrease the amount of caffeine you drink or eat
- Keep an eye on your sugar intake – instead of a glass of juice or can of pop add a bit of juice to some sparkling water
- Dental check up – pregnant woman are more susceptible to gum disease and personally in the first trimester with all the morning sickness the last thing I would want is a visit to the dentist.
- Continue to exercise if you regularly do so to maintain a healthy lifestyle or start a light exercise routine such as walking, stretching ect.
- Start creating a financial plan for the future if you haven’t already. The cost of raising a child is over $250,000 from newborn to 18 years old. Other things to consider would be if you plan to return to work, starting an RESP for the baby, costs of taking fertility drugs if needed, adoption costs ect.
Fertility Treatment Options
Fertility drugs regulate hormones and help to release 1 or more eggs per ovulation cycle. Success rate can be 20-60% often when combined with artificial insemination. In Canada, the pills can cost as little as $40 for 5 pills or $100 for higher dosage pills. Most woman use fertility drugs for between 3 to 6 months. Some companies in BC cover the cost of fertility drugs under their health care benefits.
A concentrated dose of sperm (either from your partner or a donor) which is inserted in the woman’s uterus. Success rates range from 5-25%. It is illegal in Canada to pay someone for their sperm however you can buy from a sperm bank for around $400-$650. The cost for the procedure which is performed by a fertility clinic is around $200 but other costs to consider would be sperm preparation and storage.
In Vitro fertilization (IVF)
Eggs are removed from the ovaries and fertilized in a lab using the partner or a donor’s sperm. If the fertilized eggs result in embryos they are implanted into the woman’s uterus. Success rates of conceiving range between 25-35%. The cost in Canada ranges between $7000 and $12,000 including the procedure and medication. Before you begin check with your provincial medical benefits coverage. BC medical for example does NOT cover the cost while other provinces like Ontario cover 3 cycles.
Donor eggs and embryos
Using IVF techniques, an egg or an embryo donated by another woman is mixed with your partner's sperm and implanted in your uterus. Success rates are higher, averaging around 43% which is why the cost associated is also much higher. In Canada it is illegal to pay for donor eggs or embryos therefore lots of clients travel to the US to receive treatment.
A woman’s embryo or donor’s embryo is implanted into the uterus of a gestational carrier. This procedure is commonly the most expensive type of means to conceive. In Canada it is illegal to pay for surrogate mothers so if you are lucky you may find someone to help you but many couples like with egg donation travel to the US to find a surrogate as well.
I know a couple who used a donor egg fertilized with the husband’s sperm and then implanted the embryo into a surrogate who happened to be the woman’s sister in law. They now have two happy, healthy twins (a boy & a girl). The point is, however you achieve becoming parents is different for everyone but the end result is the same and that’s the most important.
Georgia Straight - "A Good Egg is Hard to Find"
There are many resources out there for woman trying to conceive later in life you just have to take the time to do the research. One great website/blog is called “Flower Power Mom” written by Angel La Liberte, who is a Canadian and actually had both her children in Vancouver. Flower Power Mom is commentary, real mom stories, expert advice and the an online community to empower women on the journey of motherhood after 40. In May 2011 they launched a private online community for women over 40 called “A Child After 40” which offers info on resources & opportunities to connect for midlife women TTC naturally or via IVF, ART, or who are expecting, adopting or parenting after giving birth over 40.
Some other great websites full of various information on having a baby later in life are:
Over 35 New Moms, which was founded by Deborah Lynn, a former Fortune 500 executive who became a single mother at 44.
Some other things to consider to help when you are planning a child later in life would be to hire a midwife or OB that specializes in older-age pregnancies, a doula to help with your prenatal care or a baby planner, like myself, to help with all the details so you can relax, enjoy the pregnancy, stay healthy and most importantly, focus on what’s most important you & the baby.
If you are a mom over the age of 35 we would love to share your stories on your blog. Send us an email and let us know.