Research by the Pew research center in the United States has shown that many couples are waiting to have their first baby later in life when they are more financially and emotionally stable for parenthood.
However, this can be more difficult since fertility declines with age, this is worse in women because fertility declines drastically over the age of 40.
This article explores the benefits and the health risks of having a baby after 40 years as well as what to expect before, during and after pregnancy. But first, let talk about statistics.
The reason for choosing to make babies later in life are numerous, but the research by the pew center found out that the primary reason is the pursuit of education and career.
The average age of a first time mother rose from age 23 in 1994 to 26 in 2018 while the average age of a first time father rose from 27.4 in 1972 to 30.9 in 2015. This was still part of the research by the pew research center.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women’s fertility begins to decrease gradually from age 32 and more rapidly and significantly from age 37, same goes with the men folk, but theirs is more gradual because most men are still fertile even into their 60s and 70s.
No direct benefit of having a baby after age 40, but a 2015 analysis of researches conducted between 2010 and 2013 suggests having a baby at age 40 improves a woman’s mental and emotional health. It also found out that a healthy relationship reduced chronic stress and post partum depression.
The risk involved in having a baby at age 40 and above includes the increased risk of the following;
- Endometriosis—This is a dangerous disorder in which a tissue that normally lines the wall of the uterus found to grow outside of the uterus. This is usually treatable by a medical professional.
- Uterine fibroids
- Disorders of the fallopian tube, like fallopian tube blockage.
- High Blood pressure
- Pre-eclampsia—This is a potentially dangerous complication during pregnancy majorly characterized by high blood pressure.
- Gestational diabetes
- A child with down syndrome
After 40, the success rates of infertility treatment declines. Women have a 5% chance of conceiving via artificial insemination.
A 2019 study also found out that men are at risk of infertility even when their partner is under 25.
During pregnancy, there is no difference of how pregnancy feels or progresses for women above 40. It is same for all. Here is all you need to know about pregnancy.
A study in 2019 found that 53% of women have a higher risk of pregnancy loss at age 45 and above compared to 10% in women between 25 and 29.
As pregnancy progresses, women aged 45 and above experience an increased risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and preterm delivery and for this reason, a regular monitor by the doctor or mid-wife is advised. You can read up the bad or warning signs of pregnancy here.
Nonetheless, women age 40 and above can have healthy pregnancies without any complication risk if they have quality prenatal care.
A woman age 40 and above can have a normal delivery so long as she is healthy and had a quality prenatal care.
A Berlin study in 2017 found out the following;
- 3% of younger women needed fertility treatment compared to 34% in older women.
- 28% of older women had a preterm delivery compared to 11% in younger women
- 59% of older women had a caesarian delivery compared to 29% in younger women.
As for older women, caesarian delivery increases the risk of stroke, hemorrhage and embolism.