I just turned 38. Am I too old to contemplate one more pregnancy before I hang up my fallopian tubes?
After all of the drama I've endured with my last five pregnancies (and three births), I feel like I've gotten pregnancy down to an art. It seems unfair that I might be considered too old or too risky to bear another child.
So I wondered: Is there a perfect age to have kids? If so, how did I miss it?
First, I learned that I'm not the only one who got started late. According to an August 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average age of first-time mothers in the United States jumped from 21.4 in 1970 to 25 in 2006. The number of first births for women 35 and older has increased nearly eight times since 1970.
Clearly I'm part of a fashionable trend, having had my babies at ages 34, 36, and 37. But is 39 a completely reckless proposition? How far am I from the "perfect age" at this point?
I consulted Ron Jaekle, MD, a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, in Ohio.
"If you take maternal physical maturity, educational/financial readiness, medical wellness, and chromosomal risks into consideration, 25 to 30 would be optimal, with the five years on either side being almost as good," Dr. Jaekle says.