Having A Baby Past 35 Is No Cake Walk, Despite What Celebrities May Have You Believe

Renowned celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay announced recently that he and his wife Tana welcomed their sixth child into the world, a boy named Jesse James Ramsay. He also joked about how he is now the “oldest dad” at school drop-off and how he’ll have to one day use a walker at his youngest son’s school events.

By Gina Florio4 min read
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Ramsay gushed about how much he loves his large family and highlighted his older children’s achievements, including one in the Royal Marines, another in law enforcement, one pursuing fashion, and the youngest studying at university. “Tana and I came from a family with no degrees,” he said. 

It quickly became a trending topic online after people learned that Tana is 49 years old. Thousands of women framed it as proof that women can have children late in life and that it’s a complete myth that fertility starts to decline significantly in your 30s. Some women even used this as a way to prove that women have no problem getting pregnant up until the day they hit menopause. Wives, mothers, and single women everywhere were sharing Ramsay’s post and claiming that everything we’ve ever read online about fertility rates was either a total lie or strongly exaggerated to scare women from trying to have kids at an older age. It started an important conversation about how easy (or difficult) it might be for women to have children in their late 30s or even their 40s. 

Does Fertility Really Start To Decline in Your 30s? 

The hard truth that we have learned over the years through scientific research and experience is that women are most fertile in their late teens to 20s, and their fertility starts to decline in their early 30s, then even more rapidly in their late 30s and early 40s. To put things into perspective, girls generally have about 2 million eggs in their ovaries when they are born. By the time they reach their teen years, that number goes down to 400,000, but that drops all the way down to 25,000 at age 37. That’s a huge difference. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to get pregnant in your 30s (there are plenty of women who do get pregnant and give birth in their 30s), but there is no denying that the likelihood of doing so is much lower in your 30s than in your 20s. The odds of getting pregnant naturally per month at age 25 is 25%. Those odds drop to less than 15% per month at age 35 and less than 5% at age 40.

According to a survey from the American Osteopathic Association, 39% of women over the age of 35 who didn’t have kids at a younger age would have tried to get pregnant sooner if they knew more about how much your age affects your fertility. Our culture likes to encourage women to delay marriage and motherhood as much as possible because there are more pressing matters to tend to in life, such as professional success, creating wealth, traveling around the world, etc. Meanwhile, the conventional medical system benefits from women who are struggling with infertility for various reasons (especially if they have simply waited too long to try to get pregnant) because it means their patients will spend thousands of dollars on fertility treatments, IVF, IUI, egg freezing, surrogacy, and much more. 

Women deserve to know the truth about their fertility, not to scare them or pressure them into making rash decisions, but to help them prepare smartly for their future and make sure that they’re prioritizing marriage and family if they know they want to have children one day. While stories like Tana Ramsay giving birth to a child at nearly 50 years old may seem like a tale of inspiration to women everywhere, it turns out that many of these celebrity moments of motherhood aren’t exactly what they seem. 

Celebrities Have Access to Different Opportunities Than Everyday Women Do

After the Ramsays celebrated the arrival of their sixth child publicly, more of their story started to be discussed around the internet. Dr. Taylor Burrowes, a retired family and marriage therapist, reminded everyone that this shouldn't be glorified at quite this level. 

“They struggled for years with fertility early on (she had PCOS + he had low sperm count due to his stressful career), then did IVF, had a set of twins, and 2 singletons, then had another 4 years ago and likely used embryos from decades ago for this one,” she wrote on X. “She also had a miscarriage at 5 months pregnant before this miracle baby. Gut wrenching tragedy.”

“So – don’t just assume it’s a cake walk to have a baby at 49 because of this amazing outcome,” Dr. Burrowes continued. “P.S. You can transfer embryos until you’re 51 at most fertility clinics. You’ve done the hard work harvesting the eggs and making viable embryos already…”

Of course, we can celebrate the Ramsays’ good news, but it’s important that everyday women understand the full context of the situation. Ramsay is worth $63 million, meaning his wife most certainly has access to the kind of fertility treatment and healthcare that is simply not available to the vast majority of everyday women. This isn’t a simple story of a 49-year-old woman who popped out one more kid before menopause. She and her husband have been through a great deal of fertility issues, loss, and advanced medical care that finally resulted in a sixth child.

The same goes for Kourtney Kardashian, who is 44 years old and about to have her fourth child. The comment section on many of her Instagram posts shows a variety of women expressing their joy over the fact that a woman in her mid-40s is still having kids, using it as yet another example of how women can wait to have kids until later in life if they really want to. But Kardashian went through IVF, egg freezing, and a scary fetal surgery to get to this point. She went through egg freezing when she was 39, before she even began a relationship with Travis Barker, her husband; the two also opted in for IVF after they got together. 

The whole process retrieved seven eggs, but most of those eggs “didn’t survive the thaw,” according to Kardashian, and “none of them made it to an embryo.” 

“The freezing of the eggs isn't guaranteed. I think that that's a misunderstanding. People do it thinking that it's like a safety net, and it's not,” she added. 

In September, Kardashian revealed that she underwent fetal surgery to save their son’s life. “I will be forever grateful to my incredible doctors for saving our baby’s life. I am eternally grateful to my husband who rushed to my side from tour to be with me in the hospital and take care of me afterwards, my rock. And to my mom, thank you for holding my hand through this,” she wrote on Instagram.

“As someone who has had three really easy pregnancies in the past, I wasn’t prepared for the fear of rushing into urgent fetal surgery. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been through a similar situation can begin to understand that feeling of fear. I have a whole new understanding and respect for the mamas who have had to fight for their babies while pregnant,” she wrote. 

Closing Thoughts

None of this is to say that women will never have children successfully after the age of 35, but the truth is, it’s much harder to get pregnant and there is a higher likelihood of more complications throughout the pregnancy and birth. It’s estimated that Kardashian is worth $65 million, meaning that, just like the Ramsays, she has access to the world’s best doctors and treatments at the drop of a hat. Everyday women deserve to know the truth so they can plan accordingly and properly prepare themselves with realistic expectations. It’s not impossible to have kids past 35, but it’s not nearly as easy as it may seem in Hollywood. 

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