Eva Longoria is not the only woman having a baby later in life

·4-min read
Eva Longoria is pregnant with her first child at age 42. (Photo: Getty Images)
Eva Longoria is pregnant with her first child at age 42. (Photo: Getty Images)

Eva Longoria is pregnant! The 42-year-old actress, who is four months along, is expecting a baby boy with husband José Bastón. The baby is due after her 43rd birthday.

The couple, who began dating in 2013 and wed in May 2015 at a lavish Mexican ceremony, did not wait long to start their family, which was a decision that came as a surprise to fans.

Longoria has been open about her conflicted path to motherhood, telling Parade in 2014, “I’ve always wanted a family. I believe in family. But children are a product of love. So I don’t think I’ll go off and have a baby by myself. I do not have that need to procreate.” Later, she told People of motherhood, “It’s just not in my future.”

The actress is one of many Hollywood women to delay pregnancy — Janet Jackson gave birth to her first child at age 50, Mariah Carey and J-Lo had twins at ages 41 and 38, respectively, and Gwen Stefani birthed her third child at age 44.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women in their 30s are having more children than their younger counterparts. That’s an important change, after three decades of women in their late 20s owning the highest birth rates, reports the Associated Press. And while advances in IVF technology are likely playing a part in the trend, there’s no way to know for whom.

Gwen Stefani and her son Kingston Rossdale. (Photo: Getty Images)
Gwen Stefani and her son Kingston Rossdale. (Photo: Getty Images)

The public attitude toward families has also shifted. Per the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of people say motherhood should wait until a woman has established her career, and one-fifth say ambitious women shouldn’t have children at all.

For those who wish to wait, here’s the good news: Women can have healthy babies even in their 40s. While it’s true that birth defects rise with age and pregnancy rates decline, a woman’s fertility doesn’t necessarily flatline at age 35.

A groundbreaking 2013 story published in The Atlantic by psychologist Jean Twenge found that many modern fertility statistics are based on ancient birth records. “In other words, millions of women are being told when to get pregnant based on statistics from a time before electricity, antibiotics, or fertility treatment,” wrote Twenge. “Most people assume these numbers are based on large, well-conducted studies of modern women, but they are not. When I mention this to friends and associates, by far the most common reaction is: “No … No way. Really?

She added, “In short, the ‘baby panic’ — which has by no means abated since it hit me personally — is based largely on questionable data. We’ve rearranged our lives, worried endlessly, and forgone countless career opportunities based on a few statistics about women who resided in thatched-roof huts and never saw a lightbulb. In Dunson’s study of modern women, the difference in pregnancy rates at age 28 versus 37 is only about 4 percentage points. Fertility does decrease with age, but the decline is not steep enough to keep the vast majority of women in their late 30s from having a child. And that, after all, is the whole point.”

Mariah Carey and her twins. (Photo: Getty Images)
Mariah Carey and her twins. (Photo: Getty Images)

And when women use in vitro fertilization (IVF), the odds of conception can be even better. “We see women in their early 40s doing well with IVF,” says Guy Ringler, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at California Fertility Partners in Los Angeles. “After 42, pregnancy rates with IVF drop precipitously.”

There are some risks to delaying motherhood, says Ringer. “Pregnant women over the age of 40 are at increased risk of complications during pregnancy, including hypertension in pregnancy, diabetes in pregnancy, preterm labor, and operative delivery such as cesarean section.”

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