Delayed motherhood

June 18, 2011

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Ever since women have started working and the concept of women empowerment has crept in our society, the traditional role of women and their priorities as mothers and wives has changed remarkably. Women are now more focussed and prepared to concentrate on their careers and, while doing this, they let marriage or having children wait till they feel comfortable about making these life-long commitments.

While this freedom of choice makes a woman more independent and socially empowered, she faces some stressful situations of a personal nature. For example, with increasing age she finds it more difficult to get the right match and after marriage the thought of having a complications-free pregnancy and a normal baby keeps her mind occupied. Once the woman settles down in her career and is ready for marriage and motherhood, concerns about late marriage and the right age for safe conception surface. It’s very important for women to know the risks they run. From the physiological aspect, pregnancies during early 20s are remarkably different from those during late 30s as with progressive aging, women’s fertility declines. This fact also has its impact on the planning of multiple children.

Research indicates that there is a gradual decrease in women’s fertility after the age of 30, and hence it may take the woman longer to conceive or she may have to face problems of sub-fertility or infertility. It is estimated that about 20 per cent of women aged 35 to 39 are infertile. Late pregnancies carry a risk of complications like diabetes and high blood pressure which can lead to seizures and diseases of kidney and liver. The risks of a late pregnancy are linked to both the mother and the child as babies born out of such pregnancy may show stunted growth and physical and mental abnormalities. Women with delayed pregnancy run the risks of miscarriage, stillbirth and an increased risk of death of the mother after delivery. The duration of labour is longer in case of delayed pregnancy and the chances of giving birth to twins or triplets also increases. Since the skin tone and elasticity in later age decreases, women often require induced labour and the rate of caesarean section as well as forceps delivery also increases. In late pregnancies, growth of the foetus is restricted due to the weakness of placenta which inhibits the passage of nutrition to the foetus. In the long run, such children may suffer from heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes and growth retardation. This can also increase the risk of having an early labour and premature baby.

Women who delay pregnancy are also at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Besides this, a middle-aged woman finds it difficult to cope with the stress of pregnancy, and later on caring for the child gets tiring for her. As the risk of genetic diseases increases in late pregnancy (mostly after the age of 35) it is important that one should be careful and have regular check-ups and proper monitoring of early symptoms of conditions like diabetes, hypertension, etc.

—Sabiha Essa Khan