Parenting

Parenting

Having a Baby Over 40: What You Need to Know

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More and more people are waiting longer to enter the parenting game. Whether it’s because they are focusing on their careers, waiting to find love, or just having some fun, waiting means your pregnancy may be different from that of a 20- or 30-something person. If you find yourself wondering if time is running out, remember that many people are now having healthy pregnancies and births well into their 40s.

That doesn’t mean pregnancy in your 40s doesn’t come with difficulties. While fertility lasts from about ages 12-51, the ideal time to carry a baby is within the age range of late 20s to 30s. More than 100,000 Americans give birth in their 40s every year, however, so rest assured that there are plenty of success stories. Also, every person will come up against different difficulties regardless of when in their life they choose to give birth.

Getting pregnant might be harder.

It is important to note that, as our bodies age, it becomes naturally more difficult to get pregnant. In fact, people in their 40s have a 44% chance of getting pregnant within one year. This is due to a decrease in the number of viable eggs within the ovaries. If you are over 35, you are of “advanced maternal age,” a term that aligns with the time when fertility seems to start declining more rapidly. Some doctors even note that the chances for a spontaneous pregnancy after the age of 44 are slim to none. 

While those who are wishing to conceive in their 40s may find it more difficult to conceive, there are advanced technologies now that can make it happen. When pregnancy doesn’t happen spontaneously or by using natural planning methods, in vitro fertilization may help couples to succeed in conceiving a baby. Some couples, on the other hand, may have planned and frozen eggs or donated sperm, both common and helpful when trying to conceive later in life.

There are risks to understand.

Your risks of developing certain conditions increase as you age, and that’s true during pregnancy, too. Those who become pregnant in their 40s are considered “high risk” in the field of obstetric medicine and will probably need to work with a maternal fetal medicine specialist throughout their pregnancy. 

Some risks during pregnancy for women who are of advanced maternal age include:

  • High blood pressure, also called preeclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Birth defects such as Down syndrome
  • Miscarriage
  • Low birth weight
  • Ectopic pregnancy

Finding a doctor you trust and who you feel has the knowledge and skill set to help with your pregnancy is incredibly important in ensuring the healthy gestation and birth of your baby. 

Pregnancy challenges

Physical, emotional, and mental challenges can weigh heavily during any pregnancy. For some people who are of advanced age, it may feel like they are losing a part of themselves after being independent for so long. A baby takes a lot of your time and attention, beginning in pregnancy, and this tends to push careers, social lives, and financial freedom into the background for some time. 

Furthermore, weight gain and bodily changes can be difficult even for those who are in the prime of their fertility. If you are in your 40s, a time when your body naturally may begin to lose strength and endurance, it is incredibly important to make healthy lifestyle choices to ensure a smooth pregnancy. Eating a healthy diet full of fruits, veggies, grains, lean proteins, and other whole foods can give you the boost you need to feel more energized. Quitting smoking and laying off the alcohol well before conception can also help you to have a healthy pregnancy. If you have any chronic conditions, make sure they are well-managed before you start trying to conceive. 

Many people in their 40s are having healthy pregnancies and building the families they have always dreamed of. It is important to remember to speak with your doctor and make healthy lifestyle choices well before you start trying to conceive. 

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