50 something women having babies

This is my mum (with one of her precious grand children). She has done the best job of maintaining herself. She doesn’t wear sunscreen (unless exposed for long periods of time), she doesn’t use fancy creams on her skin. She eats well, she exercises, rarely drinks, has never smoked and she is the absolute picture of health. Oh and she is one of the least stress beings I know. She has the recipe for youth all shaped up.

Is 50 at the ‘ancient’ end of the scale when it comes to becoming a mother? On the 7pm project last night, the issue was raised after a 50 year old women shared of her search in finding a donor to provide her with a chance at conceiving through IVF. Is 50 the new 25? Well, unfortunately when we look at this from a health perspective, no it isn’t. Typically 50 year old women are physically at the time of gearing down, not up.

In the clinic I am seeing an increasing number of women 40 years and above beginning their fertility journeys, be it through IVF or natural fertility. Just last week I shared on her my thoughts with regard to Sami Lukis’ donor journey. If you took the time to read that post, I shared my view on a womans absolute right for a child. I also spoke about how it is never too late to slow down the clock. One thing the chinese know is preserving health and youth – Chinese Medicine supports youth wonderfully as it maintains good kidney function – the kidneys are what we believe (in chinese medicine) to be the foundation of the bodies regular function, including hormone regulation and reproductive function. I’m sure you have seen an Asian person and been blown away by their ‘youthfulness.’ They preserve their ‘essence’ and do it well.

So here is my answer; in my professional opinion, no two 50 year old women are the same BUT if a women isn’t able to conceive naturally at 50, I’m not sure her body is really in a position to be conceiving. A 50 year old woman who has maintained great health is going to have a very different physical and mental status than somebody who hasn’t. Her biological age may be 10 years before her, just as a women who is 50 and has lived a life of high stress, poor diet and very little time for herself is most likely 10 years older on the inside. Health is something that shines from the inside out. Poor health is easy to spot. Great health, even easier.

Now to be clear, I am really only talking about the physical health of a woman. I don’t dare to open up the can of worms that comes with the controversy of having a child at 50 – nor am I really in a position to comment – I’m not 50, although I did make the decision to have my children in my more fertile years. As women we deserve the right and choice, I’m not disputing that at all – but from a physical perspective most 50 year old women are not particularly fertile. That’s the bodies natural progression.

But even this raises further questions since poor egg quality and possible complications during the pregnancy of a 50 year old woman are far more likely than that of her younger sisters. So where do we draw the line? Fertility isn’t simply a switch we can flick on and off when we feel like it. It is something that must be preserved, appreciated and cared for.

Whatever your view remember this – look after your body well now and in the days ahead. I expect the majority of us will not be seeking babies at 50 – but remember that fertility is just one part of reproductive function. Today, I will leave you with one word. Protein. Protein holds the key to preservation. I’m not talking protein alone, but making sure there is a good balance of it in your diet is essential.

Lay the foundations now for a smooth transition through the later years and you will be forever thanking yourself you made the effort! Babies are only one part of a big picture. I’d love to hear your thoughts on having a child at 50 – it’s a really tricky subject that comes with so many questions.


  • April 2, 2011 By Kris 3:07 pm

    This is a hard one Nat because, like you, I can’t put myself in this woman’s place as I am still in my 30’s.

    A big part of me thinks that there is a reason why we are only made to have children until a certain age. To push the laws of mother nature creates a very blurry line. If 50 isn’t too old, then what age IS too old to have a child? 55? 60?

    I think another point here are the medical risks involved when having a child in your 50’s, both for the child and the mother.

    Having said that, my mother-in-law had her second child at 48. After many attempts, she was on her last cycle of IVF, and she was lucky enough to be blessed with a healthy baby girl.

    She is now 61, with a daughter starting high school this year. I think she’s amazing. She works full-time still, while running around after a 12-year-old. Perhaps it’s the fact that she was an older mother that she has stayed so young and fit?

    Whatever the case may be, personally I would like to think that I wouldn’t be leaving starting my family until that age, the physical and emotional journey she has ahead of her is going to be a challenging one, that’s for certain.

  • April 2, 2011 By NatKringoudis 7:29 pm

    I had a patient email me today regarding this telling of how her father is 90. She said not a day goes buy she isn’t nervous by the thought that it may be his last. Great to gain some perspective into that side of things.

  • April 2, 2011 By hayley blease 7:54 pm

    Awesome read! There are definitely two sides to this, and I have no doubt from a professional opinion it would have been difficult to write. I was only 28 trying to fall pregnant with my first child, and a week off IVF when I fell pregnant. Biological clocks do tick, and I found out personally how they tick very fast. Some women are “lucky” to have beautiful babies later in life, and I personally believe this is a personal choice, but I would not be leaving it too late. There is of course other ways to have a baby. I was adopted, and had the most beautiful mother.

    Being a mother rocks, and I can understand the desire to have little people at any age.


  • April 5, 2011 By Bree 9:20 pm

    Very interesting post, Nat! Is there a “best” age for a woman to have a child? That is, not what’s considered to old (or too young, for that matter), but an age at which it provides most benefit for mother and child?

    • April 5, 2011 By NatKringoudis 9:50 pm

      There are so many factors to that Bree – physically we are ready to have babies in our teens. Mentally, now days that isn’t the case however late 20’s – early 30’s I believe is the best time for all three factors – mentally, physically and emotionally. Why? Well, in days gone by we had babies and we had the ‘tribe’ to assist us in raising them, so teenagers having babies had so much support and it was normal for the grandma to take the newborn under her wing, taking on the motherly role. Now days, we do it all on our own or with far less support than what I believe is necessary and hence it is a massive challenge. It’s a tough gig regardless, but without the right mix, it can leave women feeling hopeless.

      • April 5, 2011 By Bree 9:54 pm

        Wow – thanks for your speedy reply. Again, very interesting. What you say makes so much sense!

  • September 9, 2011 By Katie 12:37 pm

    Great read! What are your most preferred protein sources Nat?

    • September 9, 2011 By Nat 12:40 pm

      Legumes are a great source as is fish, nuts, yoghurt etc.

      I try to keep meat intake down for me personally but it depends on your overall constitution as to what works best for the individual.

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