It's a trend driven by many factors, including economics, and these days people are waiting longer and longer to have children.
Dr Barry Walters, an obstetrician at King Edward Memorial Hospital says it's time to wind back the clock, but older mums are saying he's stuck in the dark ages.
Dr Walters has been an obstetrician for more than 30 years. Today he's under attack after questioning the right for a woman to have a baby when she chooses.More stories from Today Tonight
“I think that to have a child at a late age is actually an example of the parents putting their own desires in front of the welfare and benefits of the child,” Dr Walters said.
“Leaving pregnancy too late is just buying into a difficult situation where things may go wrong. I mean plenty of pregnancies go fine in older women but the statistics are definitely that they go much worse.”
It's Dr Walters’ view that by 37 women should think about the long-term interest of a child, rather than just about themselves.
“All I'm saying is they should be educated. The decision should be accompanied by some insight into the future - not just looking at the day or two after a cute little baby. Because that little baby is going to turn into an adult who, if it's got old and unwell parents, aren’t doing it, a 25-year-old any favours.”
However respected journalist and news anchor Jacinta Tynan believes she is far less selfish and self-centred today and in a much better position to be a mother than when she was in her 20s and 30s.
“I had my first child at 40 and my second at 41, and I don't care at all (about these statements),” Tynan said. “I don't take it on at all because when I hear things like that I think ‘that's your problem’ and I know it doesn't affect me, because I know that's not the case with me.
“Guess what? I’m 41 and I’m full of energy, and I've never been happier. I don't feel as though ‘I can't do this’, or ‘I wish I had done this ten years ago’. Every woman is different, and I'm the best mother I can be at this age.”
Australia's most famous body Elle Macpherson had her children later on - the first at 35, the second at 40.
Nicole Kidman fell pregnant for the first time at 41, as did pop diva Mariah Carey.
So did Oscar winner Halle Berry, while Meryl Streep had her fourth child at 42.
Professor Rob Norman is the director of the Robinson Institute at Adelaide University - the country's top research group into conception and fertility.
According to him, “there's no doubt that a lot of people who are high-profile celebrities, who have babies later in life, even in their late forties, are using donor eggs.”
“IVF is not good for people who are using it for age-related infertility because the eggs that are older are exactly the same, whether they're produced naturally or by IVF, and what we need to avoid is the concept that IVF is going to help you have a baby at 42 when nature is not going to help you have a baby.”
New Idea editor and mother of three Amy Sinclair believes she speaks for all modern women when she says Dr Walters is out of touch on this issue. According to Sinclair, to assume a woman has found the right partner in her twenties or thirties is not realistic today.
“It's a completely ridiculous argument. We don’t know what’s going to happen to us when we are older women, we are living healthier lives, and it’s such a negative way of looking at it to say you're going to be an old, sick, poor mother - it just doesn’t gel well.”
Emotions aside statistics support Dr Walters’ view on reassessing the real possibility of complications with childbirth later in life. These include a 40 per cent chance of miscarriage at the age of 40, and 80 per cent by the age of 45.Then there's the risk of Down Syndrome. When you're twenty, the chance of having a baby with Down Syndrome is one in 1000.
At 45 the likelihood giving birth to a child of Down Syndrome increases dramatically to as high as one in 30.
“I look after all the women I have to,” Dr Walters said. “I've done this job for a long time, and I treat all patients equally, but some problems can be sorted out if people had thought ahead of time.”
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