Having A Baby at 40: Risks and Benefits You Need to Know

There is no one perfect time to get pregnant.  Growing numbers of women are becoming moms later in life these days. Many people, though, have often been told that having a baby after you are 35 increases your chances for developing certain high-risk conditions during pregnancy. This might have led you to believe that there are not many mothers who have babies after this point. The truth of the matter is that many women are having babies in their 40s.

If you’re over 40 and you’re having a baby, there’s plenty to look forward to and think about, such as the benefits of being an older mother. Most women over 40 have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. But there is something you need to think about, and you’ll want to be sure to get good antenatal care.

Benefits

Sometimes the benefits of having a baby later in life can outweigh those of having children when you’re in your 20s or 30s. For one, you might have already established your career and can dedicate more time to raising children. Or your financial situation could be more favorable. You may have also had a change in your relationship status and you want to have a baby with your partner.

These are among some of the most common benefits of having a child at age 40. 

  • Reduced cognitive decline 
  • more emotional capacity to raise children
  • A longer life span 
  • A better education outcome in children, such as higher test scores and graduation rates
  • Financial Stability – a home, a college fund, a certain amount in your retirement account.

Risks

  • Difficulty conceiving 
  • Miscarriage
  • Cesarean section
  • Low-birth-weight babies
  • Birth defects
  • Have placenta praevia  
  • Have high blood pressure or gestational diabetes 
  • go into premature labour 
  • Have twins or even triplets

Genetic conditions

Older women are also more likely than others to have a child with a genetic condition such as Down syndrome. Genetic tests are increasingly more common for pregnant women of all ages, but it’s not compulsory, they’re a personal choice. It is worth talking to your doctor or midwife about the chances of problems, and what you would like to do about it. 

Fertility 

One of the biggest barriers to pregnancy in your 40s is your fertility. Certainly, there are women who have no issues getting pregnant well into their 40s. Though statistically speaking, you are less likely to get pregnant and more likely to need the aid of fertility treatments the older you are when you are trying to conceive. About one-third of women over 35 will have fertility issues, and that number increases with age. It is also important to note that the age of your partner does impact the health of your pregnancy. Your chance of getting pregnant without fertility help in your 30s is about 75 percent in any one cycle. That number is about 50 percent in your early 40s and drops to only a percent or two by the time you are 43.

Advancements in fertility technological have been a driving force in the increase in women waiting to have children. Some options available to women include:

  • Infertility treatments, such as IVF
  • Freezing eggs when you’re younger so that you can have them available when you’re older
  • Sperm banks
  • Surrogacy

Increased risk for twins or multiples

Age in and of itself does not increase your risk for multiples. While it may be easy to chalk this up to fertility treatments, there is also a natural increase in the rates of multiple pregnancies, even without using fertility medications or treatments. Having twins also increases the risk that your babies will be more prematurely. This is something to keep in mind as you plan for pregnancy.

Labor and Delivery 

You are more likely to be induced because of pregnancy-related complications or because of concern over the continuing pregnancy. Vaginal delivery may be less likely after the age of 40. This is primarily due to fertility treatments that can increase the risk of premature birth. You may also be at an increased risk of preeclampsia, which may necessitate a cesarean delivery to save both mother and baby. The cesarean birth rate for a woman in her late 20s is about 26 percent, and that number doubles to 52 percent for women over 40.

The number of women who are having babies at this age is increasing. With proper prenatal care, the chances of you having a healthy baby are still great. It is much more common than it used to be, so if you’ve waited to have children until now, you’ll have a lot of company. You’ll want to talk to your doctor about all your individual risk factors before starting a family at this stage in your life.

 

 

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Resources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/having-a-baby-at-40#risks

https://www.parents.com/advice/pregnancy-birth/pregnancy-complications/does-being-older-make-my-pregnancy-high-risk/

https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/being-pregnant-after-40

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