A 67-year-old woman who gave birth on Friday in Zaozhuang, Shandong province, responded to public concerns by saying the infant would receive good nourishment and grow up in a family in sound financial condition.
The woman, identified only by her surname, Tian, gave birth by cesarean section to a healthy 2.56 kilogram baby girl at Zaozhuang Maternity and Child Healthcare Hospital.
The infant remains in a neonatal intensive care unit for observation, although signs indicate she is doing well.
Tian is believed to be China’s oldest mother by natural pregnancy, according to media reports. A 64-year-old from Changchun, Jilin province, reportedly gave birth to a boy conceived in vitro in 2016.
Tian’s husband, identified as Huang, 68, was quoted by Jinan Times as saying the baby wasn’t planned but was a blessing nevertheless — so the couple named their new daughter Tianci, or “gift from heaven”.
Huang is a lawyer, and Tian a retired nurse. They have an adult son and daughter and two grandchildren, according to media reports. When the adult children found out that their mother was pregnant, they strongly objected.
News of the birth triggered public concern on social media platforms over the ethics of having a child at such an advanced age.
“It’s our child. It’s our job to decide whether to have a baby, and we will raise her ourselves,” Huang was quoted as saying by Jinan Times.
Huang said he still works and that both he and Tian have pensions and are in good health.
Tian has started producing breast milk, Huang was quoted as saying by Qilu Evening News on Monday.
Under Chinese law, couples are allowed to have no more than two children, though the government has been less strict on applying the rules since 2016 when it rolled out a new policy allowing a second child.
Doctors warn that giving birth at an advanced age heightens risks to both mother and child.
“In this case, a natural pregnancy involving a couple at such an advanced age is really rare,” said Zhang Zhiwei, an obstetrician at First Hospital Affiliated with Shandong First Medical University.
“Since 2016, when the new family planning policy was rolled out, the maternal mortality rate and the rate of newborns with birth defects have been increasing because the number of women giving birth at more advanced ages is increasing. An advanced age pregnancy can lead to a lot of hazardous conditions such as high blood pressure and hemorrhaging,” Zhang said.
Tian, the mother, was quoted by Jinan Times as saying the birth was quite an ordeal. “It was too painful. If I was given another chance, I wouldn’t have chosen to have a baby,” she said.
It wasn’t clear what pain-management techniques were used in Tian’s case. Epidural pain blockers — powerful painkillers injected into the space around the spinal cord to block all pain during a C-section — are safe and standard practice in developed countries. Such procedures are typically followed by the administration of postoperative painkillers, such as morphine or other drugs.