Joanna Moorhead: Adele has the right idea - have children young

Joanna Moorhead
Saturday 30 June 2012 19:02

I loved Adele from the first time I heard her earthy voice pulsing out those sassy lyrics. When I discovered she'd been a pupil at the comp on my road, and worked out that she must have been one of those teens-with-attitude around whom I had to swerve my buggy, my affection notched up further. (It's not what you'd call the capital's most sought-after school; the girl really has "done good".)

Now, though, my Adele admiration is at a new zenith. At 24, she's pregnant. What a sensible, sussed, clever woman she is. And what a great role model for girls like my own four young daughters.

Because the reality is my generation of women left it far too late to have children. I thought I was starting early, at 29, but when I hit a run of miscarriages in the middle of my childbearing career, I realised that 29 wasn't a moment too soon. And many women, of course, are leaving it far later than I did: it's not uncommon to start "trying" for a first child at 38, 42, even 45.

Some, of course, are successful – the number of births to women over 40 has trebled in the past 10 years, up from 9,717 in 1990 to 27,731 in 2010. We hear plenty about Carla Bruni, who gave birth to Giulia at 43. But such pregnancies often aren't easy: many women who have children in their forties have had to resort to IVF or, as in the case of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, 44, the services of a surrogate mother. None of this comes cheap. There's a cost, too, in the months or years of heartache and invasive medical treatment. The worries don't even end there: older mothers are more at risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, more likely to have a difficult delivery.

And for every woman who does make it over these myriad hurdles, there are others for whom the dream of a family never comes true. The tragedy is that the vast majority of women who have problems conceiving a baby in their forties would have had no trouble whatsoever getting pregnant at 24. Physically, Adele is the ideal age to have a child: the teenage body is too young (birth is best when a woman has finished growing) and by her thirties a woman is already less efficient at producing eggs.

There will be those who say it's easy for a multimillionaire like her – she can afford it. But there's more than funding in the mix here: some stars would have decided maternity would be madness right now, and would have got stuck in to capitalising on new-found global fame. After all, many of the women now agonising over infertility at 42 had money in their thirties. It wasn't funding that held them back; it was thinking they should achieve as much as possible career-wise before having a child.

But Adele has tumbled early on a great truth: there's never a perfect moment to give birth – except from that all-important physical point of view. In every other sense, having a baby is a massive leap of faith. You take the plunge; you muddle through. And now I just can't wait for the songs.

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