A pregnancy testing company in the UK has come under fire for a campaign designed to "Get Britain Fertile", which seems to criticise women for waiting too long to start their family. Rebel Wylie investigates.
Lot’s of things make me clucky. The sight of my own kids soundly sleeping, that newborn baby smell or hearing a newborn make that tiny meow cry, even adverts with precocious little people in cute clothes make my uterus give me a nudge. Would an image of a pregnant elderly lady make me clucky? Probably not, but if time was ticking and procreating was on the agenda, it may make me think twice about getting my act in gear.
First Response has launched a campaign to get Britain fertility fit, including an image depicting 46-year-old TV presenter Kate Garraway dressed up to look like a heavily pregnant 70-year-old. First Response and Garraway claim that the provocative image is supposed to act as a kind of fertility wake-up call – a well-meaning attempt to reinvigorate the well-worn discussion of “how old is too old to have a baby?”.
Has it worked?
The overwhelming response has been negative. Social media has resounded with posts like:
“Kate Garraway’s Get Britain Fertile campaign is wrong, misogynistic and utterly naive,” and “Women struggling with fertility or lack of partner do not need a campaign in their face with wrinkly old mum & ‘Get Britain Fertile’ message’.”
One thing is for certain, good or bad, the image certainly has rocketed the campaign into the public conscience.
Whether a woman chooses to have her children in her 20s, 30s or 40s, it is her decision. You’d have to live under a rock to be unaware of the issues arising from delaying too long, so it’s pretty obvious that if a woman waits until her forties to start reproducing it’s not because she suddenly realised she’d forgotten to do it earlier. No, waiting until you’re older to have a baby is a complex choice that this kind of advertising is unlikely to influence. So let’s park the whole debate about women leaving it too long for one moment and instead, take a moment to look at some pros and cons for starting a family at different life stages:
Have them in your 20s you’ll still be young enough to enjoy the freedom you’ll get when they’ve flown the nest. You’ll be savvy with the lingo and there’s a good chance their circle of friends will consider you the ‘hot mum’. Bonus! On the cons side, you’ll probably have to watch your mates post Facebook updates about their European holiday while you manage nappy changes and cracked nipples. Bummer!
Have them in your 30s you won’t be either the too young or too old parent in the school ground. It’s highly likely that most of your friends will be going through the same thing as you at the same and you’ll form a great network, keeping each other informed when yoga pants and wine are on special. Neither young, nor old, you’ll boringly be right in the middle of the baby-making demographic. Y-A-W-N!
Have them in your 40s and you’ll be satisfied you’ve lived fully before settling down. You might find it exhausting but your better financial security will mean your house will probably be big enough to have plenty of places to hide.
Whatever you decide has to be because it works for you. Pressure from your partner, friends, family and even advertising may make you feel like you have to rush into a decision. Arm yourself with knowledge about what delaying will mean for your chances, then look at the life that you want to live and go from there. Whatever you decide, good luck and have fun trying!