My Response to the Dr. Oz Show: Is 40 Too Old To Have A Baby?
I have been asked over and over again to weigh in on this topic and so here I am. This is going to be a long rant of sorts so please hang in there with me.
Please realize I am not a doctor. Nor am I a nurse. I am just a mom via egg donation who’s followed literally thousands of women over 40 who have had children via third party reproduction over the past 15+ years.
First of all while I love Dr. Oz, and he’s a doctor he’s a cardiac surgeon, a personal friend of Oprah, and cardiac medicine is his specialty and expertise. Secondly, I spoke to the producers of their show as they contacted me for information about third party reproduction and namely what my opinions were about women over 40 having children, and they didn’t get the sensationalism from me as they wanted. While they were kind and gracious it was clear I wasn’t going to help them with ratings because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a child via egg donation, OR being over 40.
Thirdly, Dr. Oz is not a fetal maternal medicine specialist, a GYN, OR a Perinatologist. These guys aside from being medical doctors undergo about 3 years of additional specialized training. Much like Dr. Oz did when he became a cardiac surgeon. Perinatologists train in learning to assess and manage of higher risk pregnancies that may or may not have to do with age of the mother. Women who have special medical issues like heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, blood clotting disorders, previous miscarriages, still births, preterm labor, multiple pregnancies, high blood pressure and yes being over 40.
I wouldn’t for instance take the advice of my RE about a cardiac issue I might have, nor would I go to a Neurologist if I had a toothache – nuff said about that.
Last but not least — Any of your talk shows are going to sensationalize issues. Today it’s being pregnant over 40, tomorrow it’s going to be the latest diet or botox treatment. I think last year it was all about being obese, weightloss, and gastric bypass. The year before it was sexual abuse, and drug addiction. Oprah was famous for those kinds of topics. While I think it’s great to have information out there, it annoys me to no end when they make everything scary.
Pregnancy regardless of your age is not easy — people under the age of 40 have complications every single day. Before the age of 35 I had experienced 9 miscarriages, with my first occurring at the tender age of 22. Labor and delivery is the equivalent of a 1/2 marathon or running about 13 miles. It’s hard for a reason — pushing a bowling ball out of your vagina can’t be easy for anyone — and we all know if men had children, each family would have one child – right?
Are women more apt to have more complications after the age of 40 regarding pregnancy. Sometimes yes, and sometimes no.
Centuries ago we didn’t live much longer than our 40s and 50s and we haven’t changed the basic biology of how our ovaries and uterus work. That’s why third party options are helpful for those of us who are choosing to have children after the age of 40. However, we are living longer now, much longer, with the help of science.
Over 40 you are at higher risk of developing certain complications during pregnancy – like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, placental abruption (in which the placenta prematurely separates from the uterine wall), and placenta previa (in which the placenta lies low in the uterus, partly or completely covering the cervix). These things are supported by hard data, it’s just the way it is. We also know that studies some that older mom’s sometimes may need pitocin during labor and we have a higher rate of C-sections. Research shows as well that we sometimes have smaller babies than those under 35.
Now while I get that all of this can sound super scary but what the studies don’t know and haven’t taken into account is if those mom’s took good care of themselves, if they received the right kind of prenatal care, etc.. And my guess is (again I am NO DOCTOR) if you take care of yourself and get the right kinds of care having a baby should be like those women who are under 35.
Please do not get me started on Jennifer Lahl. Jennifer Lahl is not a doctor. She was a pediatric critical care nurse in California. She feels passionate about those who don’t have a voice. She is very critical of ART – she even made a documentary called “Eggsploitation” to support her argument that egg donors face health risks and are not told about those risks by the infertility professionals. Some say she has a religious bias against ART and many disagree with her about the idea that egg donors are exploited.
The bottom line — regardless of how old you are when you conceive and have a baby proper prenatal care is a no brainer. We all know that. We don’t live in the pioneer days when there was no prenatal care to be had. And for goodness sakes if you create your child through IVF or ART — you can bet your bippy you are going to be seeing more than one doctor.
Don’t let talk shows like this or society for that matter dictate to you what’s right for your body or your family. At the end of the day these are personal decisions that are to be made by you and your doctor.