How celebrity advice on pregnancy is putting women at risk

On the weekend, I was drawn to buy the paper specifically for one article on Camilla Franks, who at the age of 41 is pregnant with her first child, “Camilla tells career girls: ignore baby BS.” Whilst I am a fan of her kaftans, I was not of her advice to career women.

To summarise, Camilla is seen to be telling woman that they should focus on their careers and not be fearful of not being able to have babies naturally and that her unexpected pregnancy at 41 is proof women can have it all.

Whilst I agree with her that we should focus on our careers, I am also concerned the false hope and information this brings to other woman fearing of that very thing – not being able to get pregnant at a later age.

The article quotes her as being the fittest she has ever been. I hate to be the bearer of bad news ladies but our fitness doesn’t have much to do with fertility. If you are overweight then this can be a negative impact, but being fit is not going to change your biological clock. The harsh reality is that nothing has changed our biological clocks and as working women we need to be more aware of that. Yes, we have advances in medicine and technology when it comes to assisting pregnancies, but not in changing the age naturally at which we can conceive.

Stories such as Camilla’s might give many women hope, but it’s the stories you don’t hear I wish more woman could read. Those of women who have tried everything, including multiple rounds of debilitating IVF and still can’t fall pregnant. And some of these women are younger than 41.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of women freezing their eggs for this very reason. I froze mine at age 29 and I still maintain it’s one of the best decisions I made. Who knows, I might be one of those women who can get pregnant naturally over 40 if I choose, but I’m not going to take the risk. Therefore I like to say my choice of freezing my eggs, was to plan for an uncertain future not rely on chance or IVF (which is not 100% successful like many believe).

There are many women out there that do get pregnant later in life, but there are more women out there who struggle or fail to conceive. It is unfair of Camilla to suggest that all woman should worry less and just focus on their careers. Worry less if you have taken precautious that down the track, something can be done.

It’s this celebrity influence on fertility that is a concern with other well known names becoming mummies at a later age. Gwen Stafani 44, Rachel Zoe 42, Hale Berry 41, Kelly Preston 48, Susan Saradon 45, Celine Dion 42, Mariah Carey, 42 and Janet Jackson at 50. Some of these were open about their struggles to conceive and others made it look like it was mother earth’s natural calling. Fertility and birth are such personal topics and celebrities shouldn’t be forced at all to come clean with their tales, however those that do show other women the possible paths that might be ahead.

Tyra Banks has been open about her journey to mother hood using a surrogate, so has Lucy Lui, Sarah Jessica, Nicole Kidman and many more. Now the Kardashians are ready to welcome baby number 3 using the same means. Our own Sonia Kruger was open with her journey to becoming a parent using a donor egg. Whilst carrying can be problematic for some woman, one of the biggest issues with fertility and age is the quality of the egg and the quantity an older woman produces them (keeping in mind that the term ‘older’ in fertility language can be considered anything over 30 by some). Many older mums are opting to use a donor egg to be able to become pregnant. Whilst everyone is entitled to privacy, I commend those in the spotlight who do let the world know how their baby came to be instead of sending false hope to others wanting to wait on the odd chance they can just fall pregnant at an older age too.

We have more options as woman these days and have more ways to become a Mum. I do agree with Camilla that we are a generation of working woman and don’t just leave school get married and have children, but we should be using a bit of fear to motivate us to know the facts, get prepared and not just ignore it and focus on our careers.

I couldn’t be happier for Camilla and her bub to be. She is an amazing woman and deserves all the happiness in the world, but I can’t entirely agree with her advice to ignore the baby BS. The facts around fertility might sounds scary, but I would rather know them to make informed decisions instead of later having regrets.

As we get older the chances of pregnancy do decline and there is nothing we can naturally do about it. No amount of meditation or exercise will change that. Many think calming down and having a positive mind will help, but as a fertility doctor reminded me when I asked about the mental impact – women got pregnant during the depression and during wars and you can only imagine their stress and where their minds must have been.

If we don’t ignore the baby BS, what is it we can do? Prepare for an uncertain future, whatever that will mean, egg freezing, education or just understanding the possible road ahead. There is no need to be fearful, but why not choose to be educated on exactly what your own body can do and what you might be able to do to help it. Let’s listen to the biological facts on this one and not celebrity mums.

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