What You Ought to Know About Having a Baby at 40
How common is Pregnancy over 40?
Having a baby after age 40 has become an increasingly common phenomenon. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that the rate has increased since the 1970s. Furthermore, the number of new births among women aged 40 to 44 has more than doubled between 1990 and 2012.
Although women are often told that it is better to have children before age 35, the data suggests otherwise.
Women are delaying having children for a variety of reasons, including fertility treatments, early career, and settling down later in life. Hence, if you’re curious about what it means to have a baby at age 40, think about all the benefits, risks and other information you need to know.
Are there Benefits of Having a Baby after 40?
Statistics show that sometimes the benefits of having a baby after 40 may be greater than the benefits of having children at the age of 20 or 30.
On the one hand, you may have already established your career and may spend more time educating children. Or your financial situation could be more favorable.
You may also have changed the status of your relationship and want to have a baby with your partner.
This is one of the most common benefits of having a child at age 40. However, some research suggests other potential benefits, including:
- Reduced cognitive decline
- Longer life span
- Greater emotional capacity to raise children
- Better grades in children, such as better test scores and graduation rates
Risks of Pregnancy over 40
Due to technological advances in fertility, pregnancy, and childbirth, it is possible to have a baby safely at age 40. However, any pregnancy after 40 years is considered high risk. Your doctor will closely monitor you and your baby for the following risks in pregnancy at over 40 years:
- High blood pressure: this may increase your risk of pregnancy complication called preeclampsia
- Gestational diabetes
- Congenital malformations, such as Down syndrome.
- Spontaneous abortion
- Low birth weight
- Ectopic pregnancy, which sometimes occurs with in vitro fertilization (IVF)
How does age affect fertility
Technological advances in fertility have been a driving force to increase the number of women who expect to have children. Some options available to women include:
- Infertility treatments, such as IVF
- Freezing the eggs when you are younger so you can have them available later
- Sperm banks
Even with all these options available, the fertility rate for women decreases considerably after age 35. According to the Women’s Health Office, one-third of couples after age 35 have fertility problems. This can be recognized by the following risk factors that increase with age:
- Lesser number of eggs available to fertilize
- Unhealthy eggs
- The ovaries cannot release their eggs properly
- Increased risk of miscarriage
- Increased risk of health problems that may affect fertility
The amount of egg cells (oocytes) you have has also decreased significantly after age 35. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), this number ranges from 25,000 at 37 years to only 1,000 at 51 years. You have between 300,000 and 500,000 oocytes during puberty.
How to Get Pregnant and Have a Baby at 40
Being pregnant can take a long time, regardless of age. But if you are over 40 years old, getting pregnant naturally may prove a little more difficult. Therefore, if you have tried having a baby at 40 for 6 months and yet you did not conceive, it may be time to see a fertility specialist.
A fertility specialist will evaluate to see if there are any factors that affect your ability to get pregnant. These may include an ultrasound to examine your uterus and ovaries, or blood tests to check your ovarian reserve.
According to ACOG, most women after age 45 cannot get pregnant naturally.
If you experience infertility, talk to your doctor about the following options to help determine if it is right for you:
Fertility Medications: These help with hormones that can help with successful ovulation.
Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART): It works by removing the ovules and fertilizing them in a laboratory before reinserting them into the uterus. Antiretroviral therapy can be effective for women with ovulation problems, as well as for surrogate mothers. The success rate is estimated at 11% among women aged 41 to 42 years. IVF is one of the most common types of ART.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI): Also known as artificial insemination, this process involves injecting sperm into the uterus. IUI can be especially useful if male infertility is suspected.
What will Having a Baby at 40 be Like?
Just as it is statistically more difficult to conceive after age 40, pregnancy itself can be more difficult with age.
You may have more pain due to joints and bones that already begin to lose weight with age. You may also be more susceptible to hypertension and gestational diabetes. Pregnancy fatigue may also be more pronounced as you get older.
It is important to discuss with your obstetric gynecologist what you can expect during your pregnancy based on your age and general health.
How does Age and Affect Labour and Delivery?
Vaginal delivery may be less likely after age 40. This is mainly due to fertility treatments that may increase the risk of premature delivery. You may also have an increased risk of preeclampsia, which may require a cesarean delivery to save the mother and the baby.
Furthermore, the process of giving birth vaginally can be more difficult and challenging with age. There is also an increased risk of fetal death.
Many women may manage to give birth to healthy babies at the age of 40 or more. Talk to your doctor and suggest an accompaniment plan. For example, if you are planning a vaginal delivery, ask your partner and support group for help if you need a cesarean delivery.
Is there an increased risk of twins or multiples?
Age itself does not increase your risk of having twins or multiples. So having a baby at 40 does not mean that you will give birth to multiples. However, women who use fertility drugs or IVF for conception have a higher risk of twins or multiples. This is due to the way in which medications increase ovulation.
Having twins also increases the risk of your babies becoming more premature.
Other Things to Consider
Getting pregnant after age 40 may take longer for some women than for others. However, your fertility specialist will have to work with you quickly because your fertility rate decreases dramatically at age forty.
If you cannot conceive naturally, you may want to ask yourself if you are potentially ready for several trials with fertility treatments and if you have the means to cover the treatments.
Summary and Conclusion
Having a baby at 40 is much more common than before, so if you’ve been hoping to have children so far, you’ll have a lot of company.
Despite the difficulties it can take to conceive, having children in your 40s is undoubtedly a possibility. You should talk with your doctor about all your individual risk factors before starting a family at this stage of your life.
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