Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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Like most parents, my husband and I always tried to make perfect choices, from the seemingly small (the perfect diaper pail) to the potentially life-changing (deciding how many kids to have). The longer we had our one child, the more we felt she was all we needed, yet the old myths continued to worry us: Would she be lonely and spoiled? Were we being selfish by not giving her a sibling? Would the task of caring for us in our old age fall on her shoulders alone?
Ask several women what they think is the ideal age for pregnancy, and you’ll get wildly different answers. Those who give birth in their early 20s benefit from seemingly boundless energy and über-resilient bodies; the 30-something new mom is grateful to have established herself in her career before taking maternity leave; the woman in her early 40s delivers with a strong sense of self and few qualms about being able to afford diapers.
I walked my 5th grader to her classroom on the first day of school this week. As I looked around at the other parents, I recognized once again that I’m one of the older mothers in the hall. I was 39 when I had this daughter; what my obstetrician called: Advanced Maternal Age. It’s not like I’m really old, but now, ten years later, as I stand outside the classroom, three things cross my mind:
1) Dang, these parents are young and
2) There’s no way I could show up here wearing sweats and a dirty pony tail like they can and
Carol Vaghar had a typical new-mom experience when she gave birth to her first child 15 years ago at age 28. “During my pregnancy, I’d met a crowd of other first-time mothers,” says the Newton, Mass., real-estate agent. “We got together weekly after our children were born. We formed a baby-sitting circle and also got together socially with our husbands.”
Especially for a first-timer, early pregnancy can be disorienting, and even the most thorough and caring doctor is bound to overlook some of your concerns. To help, we’ve come up with answers to some of the questions newly pregnant women ask most. Our expert is Raymond I. Poliakin, M.D., professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author of What You Didn’t Think to Ask Your Obstetrician (Contemporary Books, 1994).
By the age of 43, Jamie Rhein of Columbus, Ohio, thought it was unlikely she'd have a baby. "I had never gotten pregnant," says Rhein, whose adopted daughter was then 9. "My husband and I had been going our merry way with unprotected sex for years." But when Rhein started craving Whopper Jrs., she knew something was up. At an age when many women were parenting teens, she was preparing for a newborn. "I went from shock to being pleased with the idea," says Rhein, now 49.
An ounce of blood is worth more than a pound of friendship" goes the Spanish proverb, but you can't prove it by me. The only child of a single mother who was also an only child, I grew up a continent away from anyone who could even remotely be called kin. Although I can't have children, and my husband's kids reside far from us, I could be living smack in the middle of "The Waltons," so wide and deep are the connections among the people I love and the obligations we share.
While there's no perfect time to have a baby, women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s may have different approaches toward pregnancy and motherhood. Here, we take you on a journey through the ages, with tips on starting out fit and healthy—no matter how old you are when you conceive.
Through the Ages
Pregnancy and motherhood at 20 30 & 40