Becoming a Mother After 45: Is It Wise?

With all of the medical options available today, pregnancy later in life is no exception. A great opportunity for women, but what are the disadvantages of pregnancy after the age of 45? Dr. Alie Hoek-van Kooten and obstetrician Tineke van den Heuvel give their opinion.

Selfish choice?

More and more women are giving birth after the age of forty-five. In 2016, more than a hundred over the age of 45 had a child. For comparison: in 2008 there were fewer than 50. The result is that more and more teens have elderly parents.

“It is very nice for a woman who has always wanted children, if she succeeds at such a later age. But all too often women say they are making a deliberate choice to delay having children, when in fact it is selfish,” says physician and writer Alie Hoek-van Kooten.

According to her, there is a reason why women of childbearing age and fertility decline after the age of 35: “Suppose you have a baby in your late 40s. You have a lot less energy, you enter menopause after your 50th birthday and you have to take care of your aging parents. Then it is also very difficult.” Taking care of a teenager. Moreover: if your child follows your example, you will become a grandmother only after your 70th birthday. Then there is not much you can do with your grandson.


Given all the medical possibilities, pregnancy at a later age is no exception. Women can freeze their eggs, use donor eggs, ovarian regeneration and IVF treatments. But is there something that, because it’s medically possible, is also a wise decision?

“A wise girl plans to get pregnant on time,” Howick says. “Women who put off motherhood often fail to keep up later in life. Motherhood requires commitment day and night. The body is best suited to motherhood between the ages of 25 and 30. Moreover, after your kids see teens, you can easily build a job. Often Women who become mothers late don’t succeed in this. For them, it’s hard to step back from their careers, finances, and energy.”

In the Netherlands, IVF treatment is paid for up to the age of 43. Treatments after that are at your expense. After that, many older Dutch women seek refuge in other countries such as Italy, the Czech Republic, Israel and Spain.
Alie Hoek has a problem with “all those scams,” as she calls her fertility treatments. “It causes additional health costs. We help pay for treatment as well as complications that often occur with mother and child.”


The Dutch Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology has recommended raising the IVF age to 50. Fertility doctor Jesper Smenek calls it an “arbitrary upper limit,” because “many women aged 55 and over can, if they are healthy, just as easily give birth to a healthy baby. ” This is not the experience of midwife Tineke van den Heuvel from Creation Verloskundigen, who has guided many women in their 40s during pregnancy: “There are greater risks. Even if you still have a lot of energy, the body and organs are not always in good shape anymore. This causes anxiety and makes such a pregnancy more exciting.” Moreover, Van den Heuvel often saw complications in these late pregnancies, such as Down syndrome.

Health risks for mother and child increase as the mother gets older. Is this worth the risk? Alie Hoek and Tineke van den Heuvel stress that it is important to look at the situation of women who want to have children: “When I hear from a woman of 50 who has already had several miscarriages, but who has a great desire for a child, who am I to judge that ?” says van den Heuvel. “But…as a human being I think there has to be an end to ‘physical tinkering.’ Then it gets very complicated and I think we have to look at how we are created. There is a time when our fertility is, and there is a time when that fertility goes down. The past is over. It is not for nothing that we are made that way.

Moral age limit

It is also clear that all of these possibilities for delayed motherhood raise ethical questions from the recently published book Unlimited Fertility by journalist Larissa Bans. Gynecologists, ethicists, aging mothers, politicians, and fertility doctors talk about the medical limit and the moral age. In its introduction, Banes mentions Abraham’s wife, Sarah, who bore a son Isaac at a very late age and who was a loving mother to her child in her old age.

And so there are more examples of elderly mothers. The oldest mother in the Netherlands has given birth to a 63-year-old daughter after undergoing infertility treatment in Italy. Singer Janet Jackson was 50, and actresses Halle Berry, Geena Davis, and Susan Sarandon were in their 40s when she was born. The oldest mother in the world, a woman from India, gave birth to a child at the age of 72.

Deferred motherhood also brings benefits. German-English research shows that children of older mothers perform better in school and are healthier. Older parents are often less stressed, have a large social network, and reach a higher age. Midwife Van den Heuvel endorses this: “Young pregnant women are often more naive about life. At an older age, women are more themselves, have gone through a lot, are shaped and can therefore offer deeper levels of education.”

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