What do you do when your chil­dren are on the verge of adult­hood? Well, you could al­ways do it all over again!

Fairlady - - CONTENTS - By Andile Nkosi

... decades af­ter the first

in 2016, Mar­garita Louis-Drey­fus, bil­lion­aire chair and ma­jor­ity owner of French com­modi­ties com­pany Louis Drey­fus, made head­lines af­ter an­nounc­ing she was ex­pect­ing twin girls at 53 – 18 years af­ter her twin sons (yes, she al­ready had a set of twins!) and 24 years af­ter her first son was born. Her three boys were from her mar­riage to the late Robert Louis-Drey­fus, who died in 2009. The girls’ fa­ther is ap­par­ently Philipp Hilde­brand, vice pres­i­dent of US as­set man­age­ment com­pany, Black­Rock. This time around, Mar­garita is ap­proach­ing moth­er­hood some­what dif­fer­ently. With her boys, she was a stay-ath­ome mom. But since her hus­band’s death, she’s taken an ac­tive – in fact, con­trol­ling – in­ter­est in his busi­ness. And this time round, af­ter her twins were born, she was back in the board­room in no time at all.

Mar­garita hasn’t di­vulged how she con­ceived, though pre­sum­ably, con­sid­er­ing her age, it was with some de­gree of med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion. How­ever it hap­pened, she was widely crit­i­cised. So­ci­ety has its own per­cep­tions about a women’s fer­til­ity and the tim­ing of it, but Mar­garita is far from unique: a Swiss news­pa­per re­ported that 40 women over the age of 50 gave birth in Switzer­land in 2015 alone.

Sec­ond-round moth­er­hood may be a grow­ing trend, but it’s not just so­ci­etal dis­ap­proval that should be ac­knowl­edged – there are also health is­sues that come with preg­nan­cies at an ad­vanced age. In a study pub­lished in PLOS

Medicine jour­nal in May this year, re­searchers note that the av­er­age ma­ter­nal age con­tin­ues to rise, par­tic­u­larly among higher-in­come earn­ers. Al­though the fo­cus of most re­search tends to be on the ad­verse ef­fects on the foe­tus or in­fant, such as the in­creased risk of Down syn­drome, the re­searchers point out that the out­comes for the mother are also less than en­cour­ag­ing. Other than the risk of cer­tain con­di­tions in moms over 39 – some of which in­clude hy­per­ten­sion, pre-eclamp­sia, heart dis­ease and ges­ta­tional di­a­betes – the risk of po­ten­tially life-threat­en­ing events like re­nal fail­ure and am­ni­otic fluid em­bolism in­crease greatly. And in the over-fifties, the risk of ‘ma­ter­nal mor­bid­ity’ (de­fined by the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion as ‘any health con­di­tion at­trib­uted to and/ or ag­gra­vated by preg­nancy and child­birth that has a neg­a­tive im­pact on the woman’s well­be­ing’) may be higher than that posed to their baby. But not all sci­en­tists agree: Dr Re­becca Starck, chair of re­gional ob­stet­rics and gy­nae­col­ogy at Cleve­land Clinic in the US, told

TIME magazine: ‘A healthy 40-year-old can have a much less risky preg­nancy than a healthy 28-year-old, es­pe­cially if she pre­pares her body for preg­nancy with healthy food and ex­er­cise. Once preg­nant, eat­ing well, gain­ing the right amount of weight and ab­stain­ing from harm­ful be­hav­iours like smok­ing also make a big dif­fer­ence.’

So opinion is divided, both in the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity and in so­ci­ety in gen­eral. But there are many rea­sons to give moth­er­hood an­other whirl once the first brood are grown up. We asked two women why they de­cided to do it, if in­deed it was an ac­tive de­ci­sion.

‘A healthy 40-year-old can have a much less risky preg­nancy than a healthy 28-year-old, es­pe­cially if she pre­pares her body for preg­nancy with healthy food and ex­er­cise.’

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