Is 35 too Old to have a Baby?

According to my 19 year old stepdaughter, 35 is too old to have a baby. As a woman turning 36 this month, I was a bit taken aback by her “revelation”. Now, I have never given birth to a child of my own, but instead spent much of the last 12 years helping raise her. I think I am like many women, who don’t necessarily feel ready for a baby, but would probably be distraught if told I couldn’t have one. Like most of my professional female clients, I like to think I am in control of my destiny – even when the evidence stares me back in the face! I like to tell myself that I still have the option, so was rather taken aback when my stepdaughter, who doesn’t have A-levels or any kind of stable job, announced she “would like to have a baby by 23 or 24, not really old like 35!” Ironically, she still frequently encourages me to have a baby – conveniently forgetting I am ‘past it’ according to her definition.

Now, I love her, but she hasn’t taken the straightest of paths to maturity. What she thinks is going to happen in her life to make her financially able to care for a baby AND have the career she says she wants at such a young age is a good question. My fingers are crossed she’s out of university and starting a job she likes by 23 rather than cutting coupons for nappies. If anything, I think late 30’s is a great time since you have already had time to live for yourself, and are more likely to be financially stable. But in my case, time also makes it less attractive; I already love my life as it is. In any case, I think the question is not – “Do I want to have a baby when I’m 45?” but actually “Do I want to deal with a 15 year old when I’m 60?” If you want more career planning information click here

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  • Esther Haines

    No, of course not. Many women have babies when they are older than 35. But, fertility does decrease – see the 2005 BMJ editorial Which career first? (, available online with free registration). After a couple of rather depressing paragraphs cataloguing all the risks associated with pregnancy after 35 they go on to say ‘Most pregnancies in women older than 35 have good outcomes’. The other disadvantage of delaying having children is that your energy levels do become less – the ability to cope with sleepness nights definitely decreases.