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Late, but still great for older mum

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Thursday, February 07, 2008 | 3 comments

JAYNE knows first-hand the joys and trials of being an older mother. She conceived her only child, Cara, now nearly eight, naturally at the age of 43, after meeting her partner later in life.

"It was a massive adjustment," Jayne said. But she said she wouldn't change a thing, and described Cara as "a real blessing".

The Herald Sun's revelation yesterday that a Victorian woman was set to become the state's oldest first-time mother was a hot topic on talkback radio and around water coolers.

The woman will be 54 when she gives birth this year, after trying to conceive for more than two decades.

Medical ethicist Nicholas Tonti-Filippini said the IVF team who helped the woman conceive were irresponsible and had not fulfilled their legal obligations to act in the best interest of the baby.

"It is not in the best interest of the child to have a mother who has a seriously increased risk of a difficult pregnancy and an increased risk of having a disabled child," Dr Tonti-Filippini said.

"Also, it is not ideal to have such a huge generation gap between the child and the mother. When this child is 21, she will be 75."

The number of Victorian women aged 40-49 giving birth almost doubled in the past decade, jumping from 1349 in 1996 to 2579 in 2006, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The number aged 45-49 more than doubled, from 55 in 1996, to 113 in 2006.

Older mum Jayne said she thought delayed motherhood was becoming the norm because women wanted to establish themselves in a career first.

"Also, it is a matter of finding the right partner -- that seems to becoming harder and harder," she said.

Jayne, 51, said she had almost accepted that she would remain single and childless when she met her partner in her 40s.

She became pregnant after trying for six months, and had a textbook pregnancy and birth. However, life with a newborn baby proved to be a big change.

"I think younger women probably have more energy to handle it," she said.

Father Kevin McGovern, director of the Caroline Chisholm Centre for Health Ethics, said he did not have a problem with a mother's age.

"With regards as to whether someone is too old to be a mum at 54, I really can't comment without knowing the folk involved," Father McGovern said.

But he said he had a problem with the use of fertility treatment in general.

"Our greatest concern is the commodification of the child, that the child ends up being a commodity rather than being a gift from God."


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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I'm not sure why the story has a link to . Can that be changed?

  2. Links are usually just for more information on the word highlighted, but yes, I will look for the link to an Austalian IVF clinic and change it. Not a problem!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh I see. It looked like it was pointing to the ivf team that irresponsible. Thanks for clarifying.

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