Weighing the pros and cons of being an older mother

Women seem to be waiting longer and longer to have a baby.

Pregnancies among women older than thirty have risen sharply in the past several years and the conception rate for women under 18 has dropped significantly in recent years, according to the Office for National Statistics. It hit 21 per thousand in 2015, the lowest it's been since 1969. The pregnancy rate for older women, those over 35, has however increased.

The biggest increase actually occurred among women aged 40 and over. That rate doubled since 1990, says ONS.

"I've seen in my own patient population but when you look at the statistics it has been increasing steadily over the last you know decade to 20 years we are definitely increasing in mothers over 35," says Dr. Candice Wood, the Assistant Director of the OB-GYN Residency Program at Banner University.

She's seen a steady shift of moms who wait and the reasons she says vary from education to career, to finding the right person to have a baby with.

"Women are seeking higher and high levels of education just like men are for the demands of society to get good jobs," she adds. "A woman maybe couldn't make the wages she needs to provide child care and make a home and so she has to make that option and wait until she can afford that."

The American Geriatrics Society published a report recently that said having a baby later in life can boost brainpower. Dr. Wood agrees there are pros.

"You can be more emotionally ready," she says. "It's so different taking care of a young mom versus a well-educated, older mom. Just the questions they have; they have a very strong desire to do everything right during that pregnancy because they are more aware."

But Dr. Wood says there are also cons, like increased risks.

"There are increased risks for the baby, the embryo, genetically, just because the mom's eggs are older. There's increased risk during the pregnancy for miscarriage, for stillbirth, and then we know that there's a bunch of risks and complications that just increase at that age; preeclampsia; pre-term birth. Even we've seen increased rates in the rates of C-sections just based on age," she says.

The bottom line is to wait until you are ready and to always consult a health care professional when you are.