It’s nice to see someone in the media telling the truth for once.
Professor Fionnuala McAuliffe, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the National Maternity Hospital and head of obstetrics and gynaecology at UCD’s medical school, said women should consider starting their families earlier to avoid potential health complications or risk struggling to get pregnant.
“We need to get the message out there that, biologically, women do much better when they have their children in their 20s instead of their 30s,” she told the Irish Independent.
“I’m not encouraging women to have a baby come hell or high water. The message is for women in their 20s who are in a stable relationship but are deferring motherhood because they want to do other things.
“We come across couples who have been together since their early 20s but are not planning to have a family till their early 30s. Of course, fertility is starting to decline at that stage; the orange light goes on at 35 and the red light goes on at 40. The older the mother is, the more likely she is to have complications.”
Ireland is now home to the oldest mothers in Europe. Women here are 30.3 years old, on average, when they give birth for the first time, the HSE reported in March. In addition, a higher proportion of women in Ireland are aged 40 or older when they first become mothers than in any other country in the rest of the EU.
Prof McAuliffe said that information about the optimum age to reproduce should be highlighted at second level on the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum, which includes relationships and sexuality education.
“All schools have education programmes around family, nutrition, lifestyle, and that would be an ideal place” to “raise awareness among schoolchildren that there are medical and biological issues” around giving birth at an older age, she said.
Unfortunately, we live in a world that is at war with the natural order. People have become arrogant enough to think that humanity is above nature. That all observable, physical realities about ourselves are simply “social constructs” that were set up arbitrarily in order to oppress people, and have nothing to do with biological reality.
Not too long ago, we weren’t like this. We lived in harmony with nature. We lived in small, tribal communities and we hunted and farmed the food that we ate. Like all living organisms, the biggest instinctive drive in our lives, beyond self-preservation, was reproduction, in order to ensure that our genes would carry on after we were gone. As we are a sexually dimorphic species with different strengths and weaknesses, it was necessary for men and women to take on different roles in order to best ensure our survival. Men, being physically stronger and having higher testosterone levels (and therefore higher aggression), were better suited to hunt animals to eat, or to fight wars against rival tribes for resources. Women, being gentler and better carers, were better suited to take care of children. A male and female would produce children together. The male would go out and provide for and protect his children and the mother of his children, and the female would raise and take care of the children. This was in the best interest of both sexes. Having these specific roles meant that psychological differences between the sexes, evolved alongside the physical differences, in order to make the sexes better suited for their roles in the tribe’s survival.
Now, I’m not denying that humanity has come a long way since we were in the caves. Technological and societal developments have meant that this arrangement is no longer necessary for survival. A woman doesn’t need a man to protect her, or to provide for her anymore. She is capable of getting a job and providing for herself. However, just because they can do this, it doesn’t mean that everything that existed before suddenly doesn’t matter. Absolutely nothing about our biological make-up has changed since we lived in the caves and had to take specific gender roles. This includes our psychology.
I would strongly suspect that the vast majority of women who are mothers, would consider it to be the best thing that ever happened to them. Even despite the challenges and difficulties they may have faced raising their children, the annoyances they may have endured, and the personal sacrifices they would have had to have made for their children, I bet very few would say that it wasn’t worth it. I would also suspect that the vast majority of women who aren’t mothers, would like to become one some day. Again, obviously there will be exceptions and I will not deny that, but I bet these exceptions are in the minority.
Unfortunately, we have created a world which favours these exceptions, instead of the majority. There was a time, not too long ago, were a man could have an average job that provided an income which was enough to provide for himself, his non employed wife, several children, and could pay for a mortgage. This setup worked quite well, and most people were happy with it. Then feminism came along with the claim that women had the “right to work” as if working was this fun amazing thing that men excluded women from. I don’t disagree that women have the right to work, because I believe in a fair and equal society. However, what started as a right, quickly became an obligation.
Once women entered the workforce, the law of supply and demand kicked in. If you increase the supply of something and there is no increase in demand to match the increased supply, the end result is that it becomes devalued. By essentially doubling the number of potential workers in the system, it halved the value of their labour. Now, the single income family is virtually non-existent among people with average jobs. Can anyone honestly name a man on the average industrial wage who earns enough to support a family and pay a mortgage on just his income alone? I’d be amazed if you can.
So now, instead of having the choice between employment, or adopting a traditional housewife role, women have no choice but to go out and work. Naturally because they have to work, they want to get good jobs, which means that many of them attend university, find employment with good companies, and spend the next few years working their way up the ranks to a better position. In a highly competitive environment, having other commitments (ie. children) can be seen as a liability, which means that many women are putting off having children at a time when, biologically speaking, their bodies are most suited to do so.
By the time they are in a position in their career where they can start having children without them being a liability to their advancement prospects, it is often too late. The only other option that many women are left with is to try and do both, commit to a career, while at the same time, trying to raise children, a near impossible task in a world where childcare is so expensive, that it’s almost not worth having a job at all.
Even then on the topic of childcare, how many women would much rather spend that time taking care of their children themselves, rather than working and getting someone else to take care of their kids for them? Again, I’d suspect that the vast majority of women would happily pack in their career to take care of their kids, if it was financially possible to do so because that is what their biology wants them to do.
While I think it’s great to see a mainstream newspaper addressing the biological reality of the race against time for women to actually have children, I don’t see anything being done that will actually make any difference unfortunately. As long as we live in a society where both men and women are required to be employed just to survive, I can’t see things getting any better. I think it’s an awful shame that ironically enough, fighting to allow “choice” has actually resulted in less choices.