This is not a post where anyone slams Sonia Kruger – so don’t even go there. Don’t. Even. But we are going to discuss an issue to do with women and parenting and we can totally do that because it’s important and relevant.
Okay, let’s go:
This week, 47-year-old Big Brother host Sonia Kruger has told Woman’s Day magazine that she is ‘still very open’ to the idea of having kids….
The Courier Mail reports:
The energetic 47-year-old, who features on the front cover of Woman’s Day this week, told the magazine she is still very open to the idea of having kids.
But being in peak physical condition does not affect your biological ability to fall pregnant, especially when you’re a woman over 40.
That’s the advice of obstetrician and gynaecologist Andrew Zuschmann, who is also a spokesperson for the Australian Medical Association.
“From about 45 onwards a woman’s chances of falling pregnant spontaneously are almost impossible,” Dr Zuschmann said. “Most need IVF or donor eggs to fall pregnant.”
Even a successful conception does not guarantee the woman or the baby are out of danger, he said.
A third of women over 40 are at risk of having a miscarriage compared to one in five women under 30.
Chances of premature birth and chromosomal abnormalities, like Down Syndrome, are also greatly increased. And older mothers are more likely to have high blood pressure and need medical intervention during the birth.
On the upside, women who are older can often be in a better place mentally and financially than younger women, and this can make life post-baby more enjoyable.
As for Sonia herself, she is a highly intelligent woman and in the absence of direct quotes from her beyond being ‘open to the idea’, I’m not going to speculate on what she meant by that.
Her partner is a divorced father of five kids and Sonia is an aunt so it’s not like she doesn’t already have children in her life. There’s adoption. There’s egg donation. Who knows what she meant?
I also think there’s something in the idea that every woman in the public eye who doesn’t have children HAS to go through the motions of saying they haven’t ruled it out.
Maybe because they genuinely haven’t (although nature tends to rule it out on our behalf over a certain age that’s closer to 40 than 47) or maybe they’re just mindful that in some parts of our society, there’s a lingering suspicion of childless women.
It sucks but it’s there.
Anyway, this whole subject does raise the wider issue of our basic understanding of fertility and the misconception (literally) among many women that because they look and feel young, their ovaries can also defy their biological age.
In a previous column about women in their thirties and forties who struggle to fall pregnant I wrote this:
I’ve seen first-hand too many women in their thirties and forties who had no idea about how their fertility had decreased until it was too late. Is that feminism’s fault? Or is it the fault of celebrities who have “miracle’ babies in their forties and even fifites…..when actually they use donor-eggs? No matter how young your face or body looks, there’s no such thing as botox for your ovaries. There’s nothing you can do to stop them getting older.
I’m not suggesting it’s wrong to use donor eggs or that any woman should have to tell the world about her private fertility choices – choices are a key tenant of feminism. And every woman has the right to privacy.
But if we’re going to get our information about fertility from reading gossip magazines, there are going to be thousands of women who are bitterly disappointed when they discover it’s too late for them.
Sadly, I have so many friends dealing with this exact issue. They’ve been forced to undergo all manner of intrusive procedures like IVF (NOT the easy fallback option many women assume it’s going to be….IVF is expensive and difficult and invasive…) and some are just having to accept childlessness as a life sentence.
But ultimately, I think WE need to be the ones educating ourselves – and yes, girls need to be taught in schools not just about how EASY it is to get pregnant but about how HARD it is to get pregnant once you’re past a certain age. In the end, it’s up to us. We have to educate ourselves, our daughters and each other about the true risks of waiting too long to have a baby……
Here are some facts about fertility and how a woman’s age effects her chances of getting pregnant (from yourfertility.org.au):
- Starting at about age 32, a woman’s chances of conceiving decrease gradually but significantly.
- From age 37, the decline in a woman’s ‘fertility potential’ speeds up.
- By age 40, fertility has fallen by half.
- More than 70 per cent of under-30s women conceive within three months. For women aged over 36, this drops to about 40 per cent.
- At age 25, only five per cent of women take more than a year to conceive. For women aged 35, this figure rises to 30 per cent.
Here are some women celebrities who had children later in life:
So what are your thoughts? Do you think women (and men) have a good enough understanding of fertility and how hard it is to conceive for women older than 35?