All women pretty much have it drilled into us that our biological clocks are ticking from the minute we get our first period.
But if this new study is anything to go by, mums over the age of 35 needn’t be in such a rush to expand their family.
Surprised, us too? But the science stacks up.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia combed birth, hospital and census records, billing codes and infertility information to analyse data from 148,544 pregnancies across Canada.
They found that among this age group, the risk of spontaneous preterm labour (giving birth before 37 weeks) was about 6 per cent (or 60 cases per 1,000 women) at the six-month mark. However, this dropped to 3.4 per cent if they waited at least 18 months to conceive after a previous birth.
In addition, the researchers noted a 1.2 per cent risk (or 12 cases for every 1,000 pregnancies) of death or other severe conditions among those who only waited six months. Again, this dropped significantly if they held off conceiving for 18 months (reducing to 0.5 per cent, or five cases per 1,000 pregnancies.)
“Whether the elevated risks are due to our bodies not having time to recover if we conceive soon after delivering, or to factors associated with unplanned pregnancies, inadequate prenatal care, the recommendation might be the same: improve access to postpartum contraception or abstain from unprotected sexual intercourse with a male partner following a birth,” explained Professor Sonia Hernandez-Diaz from Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
That said, time is of the essence when it comes to having babies – which is why experts reckon 12 months is the magic number if you’re in your mid-to-late 30s.
“Older mothers for the first time have excellent evidence to guide the spacing of their children,” said Professor Wendy Norman from the University of British Columbia. “Achieving that optimal one-year interval should be doable for many women and is clearly worthwhile to reduce complications.”