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Pregnant at 43 - is that too old !?
Pregnant at 43 - is that too old !?

She is already the mother of a 20-year-old daughter. Now the entrepreneur is having her second baby - at 43. "Definitely too late," many think. How she thinks about it herself and what experts say.

Gesine and Matthias Görlich
Gesine and Matthias Görlich

"It is a absolute dream child. I met my husband Matthias, 56, three years ago, "says Gesine Görlich, 43," He works as a conductor in Asia, the USA and Europe. We have traveled from one continent to another. Then my mother suddenly passed away in early 2020 at the age of 73. Such a stroke of fate simply puts a lot of things into perspective and you can see what is really important: family. And we came to the conclusion that having a baby together would be something wonderful."

At the same time there was the awareness "not to be 20 anymore". A visit to her gynecologist Friedrich Reh, who accompanied her with her first child, showed: "Everything is fine, he gave me the green light for a pregnancy. I had a check-up to be on the safe side."

This is an approach that gynecologist Eva Lehner-Rothe recommends: "Carrying a child to term is an enormous burden on the body. A health check-up in advance shows whether you are fit enough for it." Also important: a healthy lifestyle. "This applies to every pregnant woman, but especially to the elderly - the right diet, no alcohol, no smoking and sufficient exercise."

When is the "perfect" time to have a child?

A few "tries" later the time had come: Gesine was pregnant. It cannot be taken for granted that it worked so quickly and easily. Because: If you are over 40, the probability of successful fertilization per cycle is around 5 to 8 percent. Around 30 percent will get pregnant within twelve months at this age. From 45 the chance drops to about five percent. For comparison: if a 20-25-year-old woman tries to have a child, it will be 80 percent successful within a year. The "perfect" time, from a biological point of view, to have a child is between 20 and 30. Lehner-Rothe: "The physical prerequisites for giving birth to a healthy baby are ideal."

Pregnancy test positive
Pregnancy test positive

The expert explains: "Not only does the number of egg cells still present decrease with age, but also the quality. This leads to more frequent misdistribution of the chromosomes. The result: The risk of malformations or miscarriages increases. " The expert therefore advises all future mothers to take the NIPT or Harmony test: "It is a blood test that analyzes the child's DNA and can rule out possible trisomies. The results are even more precise than those of the combined test." The check is carried out from the tenth week of pregnancy. Cost: 600 euros. "Not exactly cheap, but definitely useful," says the doctor.

How does age affect fathers-to-be?

Gesine's husband is 56. How does his age affect the baby? Lehner-Rothe: "A man can reproduce sperm well into old age, but not without any problems either. Here - with increasing age - there is also the risk of genetic defects." Statistics show that the risk increases in men over 45. Your partners may be more affected by gestational diabetes, pregnancy poisoning and premature births.

Every mother is great in her own way

Gesine did this investigation. "Of course I thought about possible malformations. Since I've known that everything is okay here, I've been much calmer." And how does she perceive this pregnancy compared to her first? "Physically I'm fine. I'm tired sometimes, have cravings, … pregnant! I'm looking forward to the baby as much as 20 years ago - it wasn't planned back then, now it was a conscious decision. Basically, it's about that same topics: ultrasound, baby bed, delivery, baby clothes, … But I certainly have more life experience than I did when I was 23. I am fully employed, my circle of friends is stable and I have the necessary calm to approach everything with a certain degree of calm. But I don't want to say that young mothers are not great - I was one myself - I think every mother is great in her own way."

Baby shoes
Baby shoes

Psychologist Nina Juricka sheds some light on it from a scientific perspective: "One part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, which is important, among other things, for experiencing emotions and the ability to make decisions, is not fully developed until shortly before the age of 30, which means that people of older age groups have a higher level of emotional experience that they can use Can support parenting. " In some situations, however, life experience can also be a hindrance: "In contrast to older parents, young parents tend to be carefree or more intuitive when it comes to bringing up their children, which gives the children the freedom they need to experiment and develop." But what you shouldn't forget: "Of course, this can also lead to excessive demands in the educational process."

Emerging aduldhood affects age at first pregnancy

According to the health insurance company, from 35 you are considered a high-risk pregnant woman. It is also a fact that the trend towards later motherhood is increasing. In 2019, the average age of the woman at the time of birth was 31.2 years, 4.4 years more than 30 years ago. Juricka provides an explanation for this: "In terms of developmental psychology, it can be broken down the emerging adulthood phenomenon lead back. It describes a phase between adolescence and adulthood, in which one no longer feels youthful, but also does not yet feel grown up. This period of time has only existed for a few decades and is characterized by identity finding, the willingness to experiment and inconsistency in professional and interpersonal issues - there tends to be no desire to have children (yet)."

In practice, Lehner-Rothe mainly observes one Urban-rural divide: "In my ordination in Baden I look after many pregnant women in their mid-twenties. In the city, the women who are expecting a child are on average older. This is due to the different life concepts. In the country, people are usually settled earlier than in the city."

"You are too old," said the older daughter

Görlich's first daughter Mona, 20, was initially not convinced: "She said I was too old for this child. Her skepticism has now subsided. She was already buying baby clothes with me. And she has already shown me the trendy stroller. " In any case, the mom-to-be does not find herself too old: "I feel fit, am in the middle of life and have finally met my prince - for me it's perfect. "And one thing is certain:" The nights are just as long, regardless of whether you become a mom at 23 or 43 years old."

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