CHICAGO (CBS) — Imagine giving birth for the first time, at the age of 45. It’s happening more and more.
The number of new mothers in that age group has doubled in the last 14 years.
CBS 2′s Roseanne Tellez asks: Why are women doing this and is it safe?
At 56 years old, Sarajean Grainson is busy raising three boys all under the age of five.
She also has three adult children from her first marriage, but she wanted a family with her second husband, David, who is only 43.
“The more I saw him with the older kids, the more my heart ached for him to be a dad,” Grainson says.
Using in vitro fertilization and an egg donor, she got pregnant twice, giving birth to her son, Luke, when she was 51 and then twins two years ago.
“There a double standard,” Grainson says of late parenting. “How come men start sometimes at 70? But if a woman does it, it’s ‘Eeew, what are you thinking? How you gonna raise them?’”
Dr. John Rinehart, an Evanston fertility expert, says advances in medicine, particularly egg donation, are giving women more freedom.
“If you’re a woman in your 40s, early 50s, in good health, you have a fairly reasonable life expectancy. So, why shouldn’t you be able to enjoy having a child?” he says.
Michelle Mongey waited until she was 46 to have a daughter, Grace.
Like Grainson, she needed fertility treatments.
And there are health issues that women need to consider. Older pregnant women face more potential complications like diabetes, high blood pressure and premature delivery.
Mongey is glad she waited to have a child, but she is concerned that having older parents will be hard on her daughter.
“I’m hoping we raise her to be a strong woman and she will seek out family and friends to support her,” she says.
Grainson says she’s better equipped to parent the second time.
“I didn’t know anything at 23,” she says. “At 50, I knew exactly what the baby needed. I’m thrilled where we are in our lives right now.”
“I’m so glad I waited because we did it the right way, for us,” Mongey says.
Experts say there are many types of families and it’s the quality of the mothering – not the age of the mother — that really matters.