Melissa Ryan was married at 32 and didn’t see the need to start a family soon.
Melissa Ryan and children Flinn and Georgia hang out together in the backyard of their Balgownie home. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR
She had a satisfying career in the corporate world in Sydney and wanted to spend time with her husband.
“I had my career and never thought about having kids at that stage,” Ryan says.
“It was the done thing [holding off on having children] in my circle of friends.”
“I had such an established life pattern.”
It wasn’t until the age of 39 and after IVF treatment that Ryan had daughter Georgia. Three months later, she fell pregnant naturally with son Finn.
The Balgownie mum’s decision to have children later in life is not uncommon these days, with career and travel convincing women to delay motherhood.
Last month, fashion designer Collette Dinnigan revealed she was expecting a baby boy at the age of 47 after undergoing IVF.
Dinnigan had said she realised pregnancy at her age was difficult.
“Even in your 30s you think you’re invincible … you have a career, life slips by and suddenly you’re 40,” she said.
Now back at work at the University of Wollongong four days a week, Ryan says she has no regrets about starting a family later.
“I think the maturity level and my response to different things have been tempered by age,” says Ryan, whose grandmother naturally conceived her 10th child at the age of 48.
“Your attitude to things change. I’ve never felt hard-done.”
Ryan faced the usual ups and downs of motherhood – Georgia, who’s now three, was a settled baby but Flinn didn’t sleep much and suffered reflux.
“I think physically I would have been better off but not mentally. “Having the babies one after the other and getting fit again was just something I couldn’t comprehend,” Ryan says.
Milton Medical Centre obstetrician Brett Thomson says it seems more women are choosing to fall pregnant later but it is a personal decision and although there are risks, they are manageable.
“Older people are more settled and financially secure,” he says.
Thomson says the main concern is the reality that it is harder for older women to fall pregnant.
“There is an increased risk, but you just have to manage the risk,” he says.
Women over 40 generally require more specialised management of the pregnancy, with close checks on blood pressure and gestationaldiabetes.
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