When Halle Berry, 46, announced her pregnancy on Saturday, readers couldn't wait to voice their disapproval at her "selfish" decision to have a child so late in life. Here, Zoe Arnold asks why we love to hate older women having babies.
Last week Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry announced she was pregnant again. Beyond our fascination with pregnant celebrities (which would seem to be at fever-pitch due to the Duchess or Cambridge and the Queen of Reality, Kim Kardashian) this shouldn't be that big a deal. But it is. Halle Berry is 46.
Older dads are generally socially acceptable these days. But older mums? They're still very much judged, very much frowned upon.
Comments on this article about Halle's pregnancy range from the rude: "Typical woman, so selfish. That poor boy's mother will be too old to cook for him by the time he's 30. Talentless actress," to the moronic: "How is that medically possible?"
Yep, we love to hate older women having babies.
It's true; there are increased risks to being pregnant anytime over 35. There's a higher chance you'll miscarry, a higher chance you'll have a stillbirth, a higher chance of abnormalities in your foetus.
But there's also still a high chance you'll deliver a healthy baby.
There are increased risks for children conceived by older fathers, too. A recent study shows kids with older dads have a higher chance of developing autism or schizophrenia.
There's no mention in the articles about Halle Berry's selfishness that her partner, Olivier Martinez is 47 — and certainly no comments about how selfish HE is.
It's a sexist argument — and one that needs to stop as the number of women having babies over 40 continues to rise.
Plus, all the women I know who have suffered through repeated miscarriages and stillbirths have all been under 35. They were all fit and healthy, but for whatever reason their bodies couldn't keep its precious cargo.
So why shouldn't women take the chance, if they are ready and willing to be a mother?
Around the western world, women are having children later and later. Contraception has given us choice. The choice to remain childless, or the choice to pursue a career, or study, or travel, before procreating.
In Australia, stats from 2011 show a record 12,800 babies born to women over 40, up from 7,100 in 2001.
So as uncomfortable as older women having babies makes us feel — the numbers suggest we'd better get used to it.
For me, I decided to have my children young. Only because my own mother had had my brother and I a decade apart, and she said that it felt like she had less energy the second time around.
In saying that, I look with envy at some of my girlfriends who are forging ahead with their careers, taking exotic holidays sans children, while I'm at home changing nappies and talking about Dora.
Like anything in life, it's always hard to have balance: I do have a lot of energy for my kids — but I also crave peace and quiet more than I ever have before. So maybe if I was an older mum I wouldn't have such selfish thoughts, or less of them.
Or maybe it's just a hard slog being a mum to young kids, no matter what your age.