When Grammy-winning singer Carrie Underwood opens her mouth, people pay attention and not just to her singing. What she says counts, too. Case in point: In a recent cover story for Redbook magazine, Underwood said that she and her husband Mike Fisher may have missed their ‘chance to have a big family’ and give her son, Isaiah Michael siblings, because she is 35. She therefore plans to explore her options, including adoption.
There’s just one problem. Women, including many of Parents.com’s readers, believe that Underwood misspoke.
While some do support Underwood's statement, based on how much hard work it is to have a child when you are older—which no one denies—the research contrasts the rhetoric she spouted.
It turns out Underwood herself didn't fully agree that 35 was too late to have a baby, as just today she announced that she is pregnant with her second child.
True, women past the age 35, are labeled as being at advanced maternal age, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t still give birth through natural and medical means. Adoption is a fine choice, but it’s a mistake and irresponsible to let women think that it is impossible to conceive after 35.
Many of my friends and colleagues had their first children in their late thirties and early forties. With a little help from modern medicine, I had my now nine-year-old daughter in my mid-forties as well, and had a healthy if heavily-monitored pregnancy. And I wouldn’t change a thing.
Dr. Juli Fraga, a San-Francisco-based psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive health, understands where Underwood is coming from, but wants to also offer a reality check.
“It’s normal to be concerned about later age pregnancy, and yet women at the age of 35 are generally healthy and can have babies,” says Fraga. “Even with fertility issues, there are many ways to help families have children, through IVF, donor eggs, or surrogacy,” she adds.
Dr. Fraga believes she knows why Underwood brought out the old trope about not being fertile after the age of 35. “She is probably responding more to the cultural message that women over 35 are no longer able to bear children which is not true. This pre-pregnancy-related anxiety about one’s fertility being finished is more of a worry than a reality.”
In addition to comments of support, and encouragement many followers of Underwood on Twitter expressed their feeling that she was misguided or not sharing all the information regarding her viewpoint.
Here’s what Carrie Underwood needs to know about having a baby after 35.
Having a Later in Life Baby is On Trend
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the fastest growing group of women having children are in their 40s. In fact, maternal age has been increasing across the spectrum of ages for years. Women are actually having children at later ages, and this is a trend that is going to continue, though Carrie might not be aware.
She Might Live Longer
Here’s a reason for Underwood to reconsider her words. The ongoing New England Centenarian Study is finding that women who gave birth after 40 were four times more likely to live to 100 than women who had children at a younger age.
Having a Child Later in Life Keeps You Young
There is no doubt that looking at life through the eyes of my daughter has kept me feeling young, and a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, shows that this kind of positive attitude helps older new parents to live a longer, happier, more carefree life.
She Could Be Happier
Giving Birth At This Age Can Make Her Smarter
One recent study on moms over the age of 35 published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society—found that they benefitted from the hormones that flood the body, and the brain during pregnancy, boosting problem-solving, mental reasoning and memory.
With her recent pregnancy announcement, it sounds like Carrie did her research, and armed herself with the facts not the fallacies about pregnancy over 35. She'll now be singing a different tune, like, “Mama’s Song” all over again.
Estelle Erasmus is an award-winning journalist, writing coach, and former magazine editor in chief. She has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Family Circle Magazine, Brain, Child. She teaches personal essay writing and pitching for Writer’s Digest and hosts the podcast ASJA Direct: Inside Intel on Getting Published and Paid Well. Follow her on Twitter Facebook and Instagram.