The Benefits And Risks Of Having A Baby After 40
This article has been written by Tanya Mayer. A wife and mother of 2 boys who is passionate about letting women know about different topics in regards to ‘having a baby after the age of 40’.
In recent years, the number of women opting to have children later in life has risen greatly. These women prefer to accomplish their life goals first. These goals include, getting their doctorate degrees or travelling the world. They may wish to attain the highest positions in their careers or simply opt to settle down in their 30s and 40s. Getting pregnant after 40 can have its risks but it also has its benefits. It is important to weigh the pros and cons before choosing at what age to have a baby.
Choosing to have a child later in life can have its perks; you and your partner will be financially secure at this age. Older women are better educated and can make better parenting choices than young mothers. Older mothers are also more likely to make more lifestyle sacrifices because of the risks associated with their pregnancies. These sacrifices tend to do be lifelong, leading to a longer life. They also make healthier lifestyle choices for their children and are more likely to breastfeed. Having a child later in life also means you have had time to grow. You are secure in your career and can take a few days off to look after your child. You and your partner have also had time to properly understand each other and have passed through various challenges that have made your bond stronger, which is crucial in bringing up a child.
The older you get, the harder it becomes to conceive.
This is because the number of eggs has considerably decreased and the eggs present may have chromosomal issues that could lead to miscarriages. There are about 500,000 eggs when a woman hits puberty, and the number drops by about 13,000 every year. This consistent drop in the number of eggs is the main reason why chances of getting pregnant at 40 are so slim. Due to the low chances of conceiving naturally, artificial insemination may be recommended.
However, this is a very costly procedure that may not guarantee positive results and may not be an option for everyone. The quality of egg also decreases. Before getting pregnant, patients are given the option of using a donor egg instead of their own to reduce complications and defects. Pregnancy complications at 40 are also high.
High blood pressure, gestational diabetes, issues with the placenta and birth complications may arise at any point. Chances of getting a preterm baby are also high including the chances of a stillbirth. If the woman is at 40, the child has a 1 in 100 chance of having Down syndrome and a 1 in 30 chance if the woman is over 45. Studies have shown that children born to women over 40 also have a higher risk of type 1 diabetes. Men’s sperm quality also deteriorates as they get older. Children sired by older men are more likely to be autistic and at an increased risk of having Down syndrome. Getting a child at 40 can also come with some financial strain, meaning you may have to push back your retirement plans to save up enough for your child’s college education.
Due to the increased risks, pregnant women in their late 30s to those in their 40s are advised to get routine checkups as well as fetal screening like advanced ultrasound.
Ultrasounds are important in identifying problems with the foetus that in some cases can be corrected or the parent can be taught well in advance on how to care for the child. Some of the cases that can be detected by an ultrasound include:
- * If the mother has high blood pressure or bleeding has occurred, an ultrasound can show if the baby was affected.
- * An ultrasound can show if the baby has any physical defects like missing limbs.
- * If the baby has gestational diabetes, an ultrasound can help track their health.
- * An ultrasound can be used together with other blood tests to check if the baby has any chromosomal issues.
Apart from screening for Down syndrome, ultrasounds can also aid in identifying neural tube defects in the spine and brain. It can also show if there are problems with the kidneys and also check for a cleft palate. It can be used together with other procedures like the amniocentesis procedure or the chorionic villus sampling to show the location of the baby.
The choice of what age to have your children all comes down to what you and your partner decide. Weigh the pros and cons, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to what both of you can handle and what will make you happy.
Written by Tanya Mayer
(This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional. All information is written from the experience and knowledge of the person writing the post).
NB: this has not been written by a midwife or doctor but rather from a woman’s personal experience with the topic.