Attitude towards older motherhood too often emphasizes the risk and time of pregnancy – ScienceDaily

Cdn policy documents consistently treat older #mothers as problems, highlighting (real) health risks, but also presenting them as unnatural and irresponsible reproductive citizens. on the negatives: the health risks to the mother and child, for example, or the difficulty of being a new parent at an age greater than optimal.

This is the subject of an article published in the magazine Health, risk and society by Francesca Scala, Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In it, she argues that much of the official language around older motherhood is rooted in both age and disability, as well as inconsistent with current birth trends. According to Canadian statistics, the average age of birth has been rising steadily since the mid-1960s, with more women giving birth between the ages of 35 and 39 than between the ages of 20 and 24. But mothers’ societal expectations remain largely unchanged.

Emphasizing the negatives

Skala and co-author Michael Orsini of the University of Ottawa analyzed two dozen English-language policy papers, government reports and professional statements and guidelines containing terms such as “advanced maternal age”, “delayed birth”, “older mothers” and “Infertility.” Documents dated between 1993 and 2020.

They identified three main themes in their study: older mothers were considered at-risk mothers, were unnatural, or were irresponsible reproductive citizens.

Researchers do not deny the biomedical risks that are present in later pregnancy, such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Older women are defined as a risk group and their children are at increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities (although until recently, risks associated with old age, such as schizophrenia or autism, were rarely mentioned).

More problematic is the idea of ​​older mothers as unnatural. “There is this model of intense ideology of motherhood that is widespread in our society, where motherhood is an all-encompassing role for women,” explains Scala. “It is based on the idea that women are the main people who take care of them and are solely responsible for the health and well-being of their children. Older mothers challenge our idea of ​​the “good mother” – someone who is young, energetic and has time. and resources to devote themselves fully to raising children. “

The texts also mention the possible negative psychological effects that a child may experience if he or she has an old enough mother to be their grandmother. This concern appears in the White Paper on Reproductive Technology of the Canadian Medical Association. Little is said about the consequences of old age.

“We see a lot of information on government websites about the ideal time to give birth in terms of fertility, although studies show that older women are often better prepared to have children,” Skala said. “They have the financial resources to take care of their offspring and have stability in their relationships.”

This presumption that delayed childbirth is problematic or a financial burden for the state could also affect access to in vitro fertilization, she said. Some provinces in Canada will not extend insurance coverage if a woman uses IVF after the age of 42, for example, due to increased risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth and low treatment success rates.

“Our goal as social scientists was not to challenge the statistics on biomedical risks, but to see if the older mothers themselves are not problematic in these discussions,” Skala said.

“Instead of forcing women to stick to their ‘biological clock’, I would like to see more discussions on how broader social and economic forces are shaping women’s path to motherhood. How can we as a society support women who have children in their ideal time, for example, with an accessible kindergarten, so that they are not punished for having children too early or too late? “

Source of history:

Materials provided by Concordia University. Original, written by Patrick Leiteni. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.

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