It’s not selfish to have a baby at 40 or even after 40. There are plenty of healthy 40-year-old women around the world who give birth to healthy babies every year. According to this report, the birth rate for women in their early 40s increased from 4% to 7.4% between 2015-16. If you need time to build your career, earn a higher salary, or get into the right mental zone before you can think about the prospect of a baby, that’s totally valid.
Although pregnancy over 40 is considered high risk and there’s only a 5% chance of conceiving per cycle, you can still give birth to a perfectly healthy baby. All thanks to rapid advances in technology surrounding fertility treatment, pregnancy, childbirth, and neonatal care.
As someone who has been close friends with women who have successfully conceived, birthed, and raised kids at 40, I believe I have a fairly decent grasp of the doubts, risks, as well as benefits of late motherhood.
In this article, I am going to explain the pros and cons and important aspects you should factor before considering having a baby at 40.
I’m going to start on a positive note by highlighting the benefits of motherhood at 40. Trust me, there are plenty –
5 Reasons Why Being a New Mom at 40 Is Awesome
Despite the high risk of miscarriage and birth defects, becoming mom at 40 can be one of the most fulfilling experience of your life if you look at this from a different perspective.
- 1. You Will Be Doing Well Financially
- 2. You Will Be the Cool Mom
- 3. Easy Access to Great Parenting Advice
- 4. You Will Be Motivated To Take Good Care of Your Health
- 5. Children of Older Moms Are Likely to Be Smarter and Healthier
- 1. Low Fertility
- 2. Greater Risk of Down Syndrome
- 3. Higher Risk of Miscarriage or Stillbirth
- 4. Placenta Previa
- 5. Gestational Diabetes and Hypertension
1. You Will Be Doing Well Financially
Thanks to the double whammy of inflation and job cuts, surviving alone is ridiculously expensive these days. Adding the expense of raising a newborn to the list is only going to make things worse for you and your family.
This is one of the main reasons why more and more women are delaying pregnancy until they get a stable job that pays enough. By the time most people hit 40, they will have paid off all of their student debts and mortgages.
Most people are also likely to bring home a higher salary in their 40s than in their 20s or 30s which means they can afford a good health insurance.
Imagine not having to constantly worry about paying bills on time while raising a child. Sounds good to me.
2. You Will Be the Cool Mom
All moms worry – worrying is the default setting of their brain. But older moms also have a slightly different outlook on life than younger moms.
As we age, we stop focusing our limited energy on insignificant things and only focus on things that really matter.
You will live and let your children live – something that parents who don’t have the gift of life experience have a hard time doing.
3. Easy Access to Great Parenting Advice
It’s safe to assume that most of your friends will have gone through this sacred rite of passage by this time. You know what that means? Access to really helpful, generation-appropriate parenting advice, something I can’t expect from my mom or grandma because of reasons you and I both understand very well.
4. You Will Be Motivated To Take Good Care of Your Health
Being a mom at 40 comes with a deeper appreciation for good health, because you want to be able to live long enough to watch your children grow into adults you can be proud of.
Pregnancy at 40 is extremely physically taxing. When all that extra weight on your joints (that are already losing mass due to aging) makes your knees achy and creaky, you stop taking your health for granted. You will be highly motivated to stay in shape, eat healthy, and schedule regular health check-ups.
5. Children of Older Moms Are Likely to Be Smarter and Healthier
According to this study published in 2001, children born to older parents have a higher likelihood of possessing better cognitive ability. The researchers speculated that characteristics like the socio-economic and educational status of parents positively influence the intelligence and health of kids.
Just to put things into perspective, most women at the age of 40 are likely to have a more established career which grants them more resources and time on raising a child.
Read Also: Is 34 Too Old to Have a Baby
Risks of Having a Baby at 40
Despite the possible benefits for children of older mothers, delaying pregnancy until 40 naturally comes with a greater risk of health complications for both the child and the mother.
1. Low Fertility
Fertility in women usually starts to reduce after the age of 30 due to two reasons – decreased egg count and egg quality. An average 40-year-old healthy woman has only about 5% chance of getting pregnant per cycle.
2. Greater Risk of Down Syndrome
Advanced maternal age can also heighten the risk of chromosomal abnormalities or DNA irregularities in the baby. So, by the time you are 40, the likelihood of giving birth to a baby with Down Syndrome is 1/70 while it’s only 1/400 when you are 33.
3. Higher Risk of Miscarriage or Stillbirth
Approximately 34% pregnancy at 40 end in miscarriage due to genetic abnormality in the embryo or chronic illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid problems common in women in their 40s.
4. Placenta Previa
This is one of the most common complications during childbirth in women in their 40s. It refers to a condition where the baby’s placenta partially or fully covers the cervix, which increases the risk of haemorrhaging during delivery.
5. Gestational Diabetes and Hypertension
Women pregnant at 40 can also experience blood sugar spike or high blood pressure for the first time which can affect both the baby and the mother’s health.
Maternal age can also lead to more serious high-blood-related issues like preeclampsia, a condition that usually develops 20 weeks after pregnancy.
In rare cases, preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia which can be life-threatening for both the mother and the baby.
Apart from these, high birth weight, Cesarean birth, and excessive bleeding during delivery are also common risks associated with late pregnancy.
How to Ensure Healthy Pregnancy at 40
Even though the odds won’t be exactly in your favor when you are trying to get pregnant at 40, it’s certainly not an impossible feat. The rate of infertility in women in the age group of 40-44 is 30%, which means 70% of the women are fertile.
So, if you are thinking about trying or you are already pregnant, the first thing on your to-do list should be to get in touch with your OB-GYN or a fertility specialist. To ensure a healthy pregnancy, you will be advised to –
- Lose some weight if you are obese.
- Have a solid 8-hour sleep.
- Be on a nutrient-rich diet.
- Take your vitamins on time.
- Effectively manage stress.
- Go through a full medical exam including genetic screening to rule out the possibility of birth defects.
Some FAQs You May Still Have
- What are the chances of getting pregnant at 40?
Ans. The chances of getting pregnant per cycle is about 5% for women in their 40s.
- Can you get pregnant naturally at 40?
Ans. Yes, even with the rapidly declining fertility rate as we age, women can get pregnant naturally until menopause.
- How to improve egg quality at 40?
Ans. Here are a few ways you can improve your fertility and egg quality if you are thinking of having a baby at 40 –
- Be on a high fat, low carb diet (after consulting your physician, of course).
- Quit smoking, reduce caffeine intake.
- Light exercise.
- Get enough sleep.
The right time to have a child is…wait for it…when you want one. That’s it. Even though pregnancy at 40 comes with its fair share of risks, the positives easily outweigh the negatives.
So go, talk to your OB-GYN, get tested, eat healthy, take plenty of rest, and most importantly, de-stress yourself. Thanks for reading along. You are amazing.