Are you in the 40+ Club? Naomi Campbell and the rise of the 'older mother'

·8 min read

Watch: Naomi Campbell announces she is a mother to a baby girl age 50. 

Naomi Campbell has become the mother of a baby girl at the age of 50, joining a growing number of women joining the 40 and 50-plus parenting club. 

The supermodel announced the happy news on Instagram as she shared a picture of her hand holding the baby's tiny feet.

In the caption, Campbell wrote: “A beautiful little blessing has chosen me to be her mother. So honoured to have this gentle soul in my life there are no words to describe the lifelong bond that I now share with you my angel.”

She added: “There is no greater love.”

Ms Campbell's mother, Valerie Morris Campbell, also expressed her joy at becoming a grandparent. "I'm beyond thrilled as I've waited a long time to be a grandmother," she posted on Instagram. 

Read more: Chrissy Teigen encourages people to talk about #FertilityOutLoud

Naomi Campbell has revealed she has become a mother at teh age of 50, pictured in April 2021. (Getty Images)
Naomi Campbel revealed she has become a mother at the age of 50, pictured in April 2021. (Getty Images)

Campbell did not reveal further details about becoming a parent, such as her baby’s name or when she was born, but the supermodel has previously spoken about wanting to become a mother.

In 2014, she told designer Diane von Furstenberg she “definitely” wanted children, no matter what her relationship status would be in the future.

She later told ES Magazine: "I think about having children all the time. But now, with the way science is, I think I can do it when I want."

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Campbell is certainly not the only celebrity to be arriving somewhat late to the parenting party, and her baby announcement forms part of a growing trend for women choosing to have children later in life, whether naturally, via fertility treatment or by surrogacy.

Back in 2018 actor Brigitte Nielsen announced that she had welcomed her fifth child, a daughter named Frida, at the age of 55, while Janet Jackson also gave birth to her first child, a son Eissa, at 50.

Meanwhile, Halle Berry, 47, Iman, 45, Geena Davis, 48 and Laura Linney, 49, were all in their mid-to-late 40s when they welcomed children into the world. 

Read more: UK birth rate in England and Wales hits an all time low, here's all the reasons why

More mothers are giving birth in their 40s and 50s. (Getty Images)
More mothers are giving birth in their 40s and 50s. (Getty Images)

It’s not a trend exclusive to celebrities either. Back in 2017, Carolyne Ness gave birth to her son Javed, at 58, after being denied IVF treatment in the UK and travelling to India for the procedure.

And in 2016 a woman, thought to be one of the world’s oldest mother gave birth at the age of 70. With her 79-year-old husband, Daljinder Kaur welcomed a son into the world after two years of IVF treatment. 

Back in the UK, Sharon Cutts, from Lincolnshire became Britain’s oldest mother of triplets when she gave birth to Mason, Ryan and Lily in March 2016, then aged 55.

It’s a trend that looks set to continue too. Data published by the Office for National Statistics showed the number of births to 50-plus women has quadrupled over the last two decades, up from 55 in 2001 to 238 in 2016.

During the same period there were 1,859 births in the UK to women over 50, and 153 to women over 55.

The number of women having children in their 40s has also risen three fold from 4.9 live births per 1,000 in 1981 to 14.7 births per thousand today. 

What’s more, ‘older mothers’, identified by doctors as women aged 35 and over, now make up a fifth of all births in Britain.

Watch: Katie Price undergoes fertility treatment in her 40s.

So what’s causing this spike in 50-plus parenting? It’s possible that for some it’s a case of not being settled financially or emotionally, or not feeling ready to have children in their earlier decades. 

Reasons range from not meeting the partner they want to settle down with, to not being able to afford a baby, or wanting to climb the career ladder first. Others, may simply have been uncertain about their parenting abilities.

In the past, women who’d reached their fifth and sixth decades may have assumed they’d left it too late to consider motherhood, but with the advancement of ever-improving fertility treatments, motherhood in the retirement years is becoming an increasingly viable possibility.

Tim Child, medical director at Oxford Fertility and associate professor in reproductive medicine at the University of Oxford, previously revealed it is medically possible for women to become pregnant even after the menopause.

“There is no limit to the age at which eggs from a donor – or ones previously frozen – can potentially implant in a woman’s uterus,” he told The Telegraph

“So it is medically absolutely possible to achieve pregnancy after menopause, but there are risks to the woman herself when she is pregnant and to the foetus, too.”

Kate Davies, fertility nurse consultant at Dr Fertility says the vast majority of pregnancies in women age 45 and over, either naturally or with fertility treatments, are as a result of egg donation. 

"This fact is rarely shared when it comes to celebrity pregnancies," she explains. "This in itself is sadly misleading to women who assume that, if a celebrity has conceived later in life, this too will be possible for them."

Read more: The great IVF postcode lottery

There are some benefits to being an older mother including potential financial stability. (Getty Images)
There are some benefits to being an older mother including potential financial stability. (Getty Images)

It's also worth noting that the NHS does not offer IVF to women over the age of 42.

"IVF isn't usually recommended for women over the age of 42 because the chances of a successful pregnancy are thought to be too low," the NHS site explains

Between 2014 and 2016 the percentage of IVF treatments that resulted in a live birth was:

  • 29% for women under 35

  • 23% for women aged 35 to 37

  • 15% for women aged 38 to 39

  • 9% for women aged 40 to 42

  • 3% for women aged 43 to 44

  • 2% for women aged over 44

These figures are for women using their own eggs and their partner’s sperm, using the per embryo transferred measure.

In terms of falling pregnant naturally, Fertility Family says after 37, fertility begins to reduce rapidly and at age 40, your chances of conceiving are just over 20%, dropping to around 5% at age 45. 

"A woman is born with a certain number of eggs and the best quality eggs are used for ovulation each month," the site explains.

"This means that the quantity and the quality declines as a woman grows older." 

In your 40s, chromosomal abnormalities are more common in the poorer quality eggs that your ovaries release and this means that the chance of your baby having birth defects – and also the chance of miscarriage – is greater. 

But Davies says an increase in women choosing to freeze their eggs at a younger age does present an opportunity for women to conceive later in life.

"However, as success rates with frozen eggs remain low, this risk needs to be carefully considered and understood," she adds. 

Mr Cesar Diaz-Garcia, fertility specialist and surgeon at London Gynaecology says there are a number of options for older women hoping to have a family, including egg donation, which he describes as the most realistic option.

For those women who try with their own eggs, Diaz-Garcia says it is extremely difficulty to have a successful treatment because the probability of abnormal embryos is extremely high.

"Therefore, if the patient decides to try treatment with her own eggs it is advisable to do genetic screening," he adds.

Diaz-Garcia says that in terms of fertility treatments that raise the chances of becoming an older mother, the game-changer is egg donation.

Life edit banner
Life edit banner

"Using donation eggs, the chances of having a baby are over 75% after the transfer of the first embryo, over 85% after the transfer of the second embryo and 96% after the transfer of the third embryo," he explains. 

When IVF is performed using eggs that were harvested, Diaz-Garcia says the chances are the same as the chances at the age they were harvested. 

"So, if you had eggs frozen at 38, the chances will be of a woman of that age," he adds.

"If you use your own eggs the chances per cycle are very low - probably less than 5%." 

But, in addition to having worse outcomes, there are also more risks during pregnancy. 

"Those risks are very important and affect both mother and baby," Diaz-Garcia explains. "There is a higher risk of having gestational diabetes, high blood pressure during pregnancy, pre-eclampsia, pre-term delivery, low birth weight and in general the morbidity increases."

Despite some medical risks and some people remaining skeptical about the rise of older parenthood, there are plus points to being a mature mother – including increased stability, coupled with a more realistic expectation of what motherhood entails. 

“On a positive note, there are many benefits to being an older mother," Davies explains. "The woman may be more financially stable, will have pursued her career and education and have a solid foundation of support around her to help in raising her much dreamed-of child”.

Watch: Fertility expert debunks 19 myths about getting pregnant and fertility

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting