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Richmond moms having kids later

More than 18 per cent of births are now to women aged 35-39

Richmond women are among those who are having more babies later in their 30s and 40s than women in the rest of Canada.

According to a new report by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research called In Due Time, more than 18 per cent of births here are to women 35 to 39 and 3.9 per cent are to women over 40, above the national average of 15 per cent and 2.9 per cent.

One reason why women wait longer to have children in B.C., and Richmond in particular, may be due to the high cost of living, said Kathleen Morris, director of health systems analysis for CIHI.

Morris said about a third of women having babies over 35 in B.C. live in urban centres like Vancouver, Richmond or the North Shore.

"There seem to be a higher percentage of urban women having babies over 35," said Morris, one of the report's authors.

"It could be that more of them continue their educations or are more career focused or marrying later. There is a sense that it could be related to high housing prices and wanting financial stability first."

Dr. Jan Christilaw, president of the B.C. Women's Hospital, offered another theory: B.C. women are "healthier, thinner and their smoking rate is lower" than in the rest of Canada, and so feel they can safely put off having babies until later in life.

"There are women in their late 30s and 40s who think of themselves just as healthy as they were at age 20, so their perception is that having a child later is a healthy thing to do. And for the vast majority, it is," said Christilaw.

"But they are still 40 when it comes to getting pregnant and there are still physiological changes that will happen even if they are perfectly healthy and do yoga every day."

Vancouver's Marcy McCabe exemplifies this growing trend. The realtor will be 41 when her third child is due in April. She was career focused and travelled before she married at age 36 and had her first child that year. She agreed her good health and financial readiness affected her decision to wait.

"I think I am in better shape now than in my 20s," said McCabe, who works part time. "I think one of the benefits of having kids at this age versus earlier is I am able to spend more time with them now," she said.

McCabe said her pregnancies were healthy and her deliveries natural and drug free. But the report shows other older mothers in B.C. aren't as lucky.

B.C. had the second-highest rate of C-sections in Canada behind Newfoundland, at 38 per cent for women over 35 and over 45 per cent for women over 40.