Older mothers are stigmatized by government texts, according to a study

Clara Deskernings, Canadian Press

MONTREAL — As more Canadian women choose to have children later in life, a recent study indicates that pregnant women age 35 and older continue to be stigmatized by medical recommendations and public policies.

“There’s been a lot of emphasis on biomedical risks,” said Concordia University political science professor Francesca Scala, who co-authored the study.

It is true that some risk factors increase with age. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) cites “premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage, placenta previa, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, cesarean delivery” as problems that then become more frequent.

While she acknowledges that “these are valid concerns” and expectant mothers should be well informed about them before making decisions, Scala notes that such a focus on potential dangers often portrays older mothers as “at risk,” “abnormal” or “maybe.” . Irresponsible reproductive citizen”.

For example, PHAC described in a 2008 document that the tendency to postpone one’s pregnancy is “a huge clinical and public health concern,” he recalled.

In Quebec, as of November 2021, the cost of in vitro fertilization is covered only for women under 42 years of age because success rates drop rapidly around this age.

Moreover, even if various organizations are very careful not to make any moral judgments about “the value of a disabled person’s life (…), much emphasis is placed on the possibility of an elderly mother giving birth to a child. A disabled child, the professor explains, and about the role of women as reproductive citizens to limit these risks”.

A perfect mother

According to Prie Scala, a mother should be absolutely young, healthy and vibrant with energy.

“There is the idea that only women are responsible for children (…) that the world of motherhood surrounds and consumes their whole life”, she explains, and it must have the power to fulfill these expectations. Youth.

“A woman who looks older, who has gray hair (…), is not necessarily what we would consider an ideal mother.”

He cited a 2015 study of recommendations on in vitro fertilization published by the Canadian Medical Association. Although the text argues that it would not be ethical to prevent women from accessing these services, it adds that “older women are more at risk of experiencing complications, which may endanger the safety of the child, in addition to the emotional or social discomfort that a child may experience when a mother is old enough to become a grandmother. can experience being

“I think ageism has a role to play,” argues the professor.

According to her, “having children later has many advantages”. Previous research has indicated that older mothers are often better prepared to raise a child, have financial security and greater relationship stability. “Recent research also suggests that older childbearing is associated with long-term benefits for children, such as better language skills and improved academic performance,” the article says.

Even without ill intent, personal aspirations and motherhood are often presented as antagonistic, she argued. For example, in a guide published by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada in 2011, it explained that along with the mistaken belief that assisted reproduction works every time, “unfortunately, it can give women a false optimism that they can delay their pregnancy. When They follow their education and career.This guideline has been withdrawn by the company.

“On the one hand, women are encouraged to have a career, be self-sufficient and have a stable relationship, but on the other hand, they are warned that their biological clock is ticking,” the professor notes.

The study, titled “The Problem of Older Motherhood in Canada: Ageism, Capability and Risky Motherhood Matters,” was published last March in the scientific journal Health, Risk and Society. About twenty publications from medical orders and governments from 1993 to 2021 were studied.

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