Are you over the age of 40, and contemplating having a baby? Nowadays, many woman opt to have a baby later in life, due to pursuing advanced degrees, various career paths, and their own personal preferences in their 20s and 30s. Of course some women wait until they meet Mr. Right, which often happens later in life. Studies show that a pregnancy after 40, does increase the risk of certain fetal complications, and also raises the risk of death for the expectant mother.
When a woman reaches her 40s, it becomes a lot more challenging to get pregnant through traditional means. That is the reason why many women in this age group pursue assisted reproductive technologies, to aid them in their desire to have a child. Studies show that, “statistically speaking, the chances of having a successful pregnancy at what doctors call an “advanced maternal age” are fairly dismal. By age 40, a woman’s chance of getting pregnant naturally is only about 5 percent, in any given month (down from about 20 percent at age 30). The use of assisted reproductive technologies ups the odds-but not as much as it could if a woman were younger. By age 45, a woman’s chance of getting pregnant with her own eggs is virtually zero.”
The important thing is that you are aware that the road ahead may prove a challenging one, if you consider having a baby later in life. Keep in mind that the number of mothers giving birth to children after the age of 40 has actually doubled in the past few decades. Many of these women have made use of the various reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization, and in many cases women have obtained donor eggs.
As the chances of getting pregnant naturally decrease for a woman in this age group, the risk factors associated with pregnancy increase, for both mother and baby. If a woman is able to become pregnant, she may be at risk of having a miscarriage during the pregnancy. The baby is facing a higher risk of developing Down syndrome, because as a woman’s age increases the likelihood of this happening increases also. According to Dr. Alan Peaceman, chief of the division of maternal fetal medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, “assuming they can get out of the first trimester without a miscarriage, most women can do fine.” He told Newsweek that for women considering later pregnancies, it is essential to stay in excellent health that is conducive to fertility. This involves consuming a healthy diet, staying at the appropriate weight, quitting smoking, and avoiding STDs.
In general, if you are considering having a child take care of yourself, and your body. Of course, this advice is applicable to women of any age who are considering pregnancy.
WebMD details the fact that “women 35-39 years old had a two to three times higher risk of pregnancy-related death, and women over 40 had a four to six times higher risk of pregnancy-related death than women in their late 20s.”
Getting pregnant after the age of 40 is certainly not impossible, but like anything it does have specific risks associated with it. If a pregnancy later in life is something you are considering, always discuss the potential pregnancy with your doctor first. He can advise you on the risks of having a baby at this age, and he can assess if you are an ideal candidate for pregnancy, based upon your personal medical history.
Newsweek – Pregnancy: Modern Maternity
WebMD – Late Pregnancies Put Mom and Baby at Risk