Jayne Dawson: Wise up – more women over fifty will have babies

FAMILY WAY: Actress Tina Malone was 50 when she gave birth to her daughter.
FAMILY WAY: Actress Tina Malone was 50 when she gave birth to her daughter.
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Yet more news to blow our brains - more older women are giving birth. In the past six years, the number of women aged 50 and over who are taking up a bed in the labour ward has doubled.

Not too long ago, a fifty year old woman in hospital would have been nowhere near the maternity unit - she would have been having joints replaced, organs removed, and bits of her made to work again. She would have been sick, not producing new life.

We don’t need to get too excited. It was only 154 women in 2012, there are not hordes of wrinkly, shambling new mums out there but still, it’s a big change in the world.

Time was when a late baby came when a woman was 40. Sometimes, in freakish circumstances, she was 40-plus.

In which case, she was one embarrassed woman, doing her best to hide her pregnancy belly under a skirt held together with a big safety pin with a sober blouse over the top.

She looked shamefaced at the ante-natal clinic, and for the sake of her existing, much older children, she tried to pretend the whole humiliation was not happening.

But women’s lives were different then.

Adult life began sooner, children came along quicker, old age began earlier. Basically, women wore out faster than they do now - though then as now there is a major class divide. What I mean is, working class women wore out really fast. Over 40 and your figure was gone - or if it wasn’t the neighbours wanted to know why. So a baby in your 50s, with your hair all grey and your flesh heading south, was unthinkable. You weren’t an older women -you were an old woman.

I was of the generation that thought this way, aged 23 when I had my first child. I felt, if anything, that I had left it a little bit late.

The books I read during my pregnancy told me that the vast majority of mothers had completed their family by the age of 30.

Nowadays I am a bit beyond that milestone birthday myself - oh go on then I’m in my fifties - and I have just welcomed my first grandchild into the world.

Would I like to be a mother again myself? You know what, there is a small, mad part of me that would. The siren call of creation is powerful and never completely quenched.

But my rational brain tells me that the reality would be terrible, and it would be.

But not every woman thinks that way. The women who, in their prime fertile years, didn’t meet a suitable man, the ones who suffered misfortunes and tragedies, the ones who discovered that nature was cruel and denied them what they eventually began to yearn for, not all these women are accepting their childless fate any more.

Actress Tina Malone gave birth to daughter Flame aged 50, Britian’s oldest new mum Carole Hobson, a barrister who had twins by IVF at the age of 58, is thriving in her new role.

Some call these women selfish deluded, and reckless, determinedly achieving what nature never intended.

But I don’t agree. I find myself in sympathy with these women. Since when was nature the boss? Given the chance we flout nature at every turn.

And the world is changing. For relatively affluent women in the UK, that change means they are stronger and fitter for longer. We’re living longer, leaving home later, buying houses later, extending our youthful years.

A woman who gives birth aged 50 is probably going to see her child into his or her thirties, could even become a grandmother. So what if she doesn’t have the bloom of youth about her pregnancy, she has the wisdom of her years.

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