Advanced maternal age.
The three words make Laura Byrne cringe.
Byrne, of Tampa, will be almost 35 when she gives birth to her second child next month, making her an "older mom" in the eyes of her doctor. But she doesn't regret having waited to have a family, she said. It enabled her to pursue a fast-paced career in TV news, meet the right husband and achieve financial stability.
Besides, said Byrne, who is taking some time off from her career, "being an 'older mom' is the new norm."
She might be on to something, according to a new study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The report this month found that a total of 3,985,924 babies were born in 2014 — an increase of 53,743, or about 1 percent, from the previous year. The birthrate dropped for teenagers and women in their early 20s, and held steady for women in their late 20s. But it increased for women in their 30s and early 40s.
The trend doesn't surprise Tampa Bay area obstetricians.
Dr. Catherine Lynch, a practicing obstetrician and professor at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, said many of her patients put off having children during the economic downturn.
"It was mainly due to job stability concerns, either for themselves, their partners or both," she said.
The women are now having babies in their 30s.
"It is a definite indication that there's a much more positive outlook on the economy," Lynch said. "Either that, or the biological clock is just ticking louder."
For some women, the decision to delay childbirth is driven more by career ambitions.
Take South Tampa mom Karrie Mueller. After graduating from Florida State University in Tallahassee and working in Orlando, Mueller moved to New York City to pursue a career in public relations.
"I wasn't worried about (having kids)," Mueller said. "I was enjoying life. I had some really cool opportunities to travel and do things I wouldn't have been able to do with children."
She returned to Florida at 30 to be with the man who would later become her husband.
The couple had a daughter in 2013 and a son in 2014.
But it's more than just changing attitudes. Experts also credit the technological advances that have made it easier for women to conceive later in life.
"Our ability to help someone have a child has greatly increased, whether it's prescribing medication to stimulate the patient's ovaries to produce more eggs (or) using intrauterine insemination techniques," Lynch said.
She also noted that the success rates for in vitro fertilization have improved over time.
But Dr. Madelyn Butler, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist and founder of the Woman's Group practice in Tampa, cautioned women against developing a false sense of security and waiting too long.
"Women should not look at Halle Berry and think that's realistic," Butler said, referencing the actor who gave birth at 46. "Most people don't have $150,000 to spend on egg donation and in vitro fertilization. There is a definite window."
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There are other potential complications.
Babies born to women in their 30s and 40s are far more likely to have chromosomal abnormalities than babies born to younger women — irregularities that can lead to conditions such as Down syndrome. What's more, women in their 30s and 40s are at a higher risk of developing diabetes or high blood pressure because of their pregnancy.
Sheriss Crosskey isn't deterred. The 38-year-old founder of Tampa Bay Moms Blog hopes to continue having children in her late 30s — and possibly even her early 40s.
"It's a great time in life to be building my family," she said.
Kathleen McGrory can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8330. Follow @kmcgrory.