Nowadays, more people are moving towards having financial stability and a luxurious lifestyle before they even think about starting a family.
Many of us have become overly career-oriented and having kids or starting a family early seems like an overwhelming responsibility. This isn’t wrong by any means, given the economic situation that prevails all around the globe these days. However, a lot of people who are considering starting a family in their 40s struggle with the question, “Is it selfish to have a baby at 40?”
The simple answer is NO.
Whether 40 is the age at which you are starting your family and this is your first child or you have a family but want to add another child at 40, it’s all good.
Pregnancy is, indeed, a beautiful chapter in human life. It is absolutely okay to have a baby safely at whichever age you choose. However, there are certain birth defects and complications to keep in mind, such as chromosomal abnormalities or other risks that come with a mother’s increased age. Even those issues can be dealt with because of the medical advancements that make late pregnancy risk nearly negligible.
In this article, we are going to address the big questions about having a baby at 40. Read on, moms!
Is it Worth Having a Baby After 40?
Thinking about an answer to this question may very well cause a headache because of the preconceived notions about the supposedly “perfect age” to be a mother. The simple answer is that the best time to have a baby is when you are ready for it.
There is a lot of research that points to the increasing inclination towards late pregnancies. Having a baby in your 40s is not out of societal norms these days.
In fact, it is a great plan because at an older age, you will have achieved more in life, as compared to younger mothers, and it is more likely that you can give your child financial security and a better lifestyle. Also, with your added life experiences, you can teach them about life’s ups and downs with greater wisdom.
Pros & Cons of Later Pregnancy
As you age, you mature and acquire knowledge. You also are likely to gain greater financial stability and will have more emotionally mature responses to any situation. The combination of these traits leads to a good parenting style.
Pregnancies at a young age are one of the leading factors responsible for an inflated college dropout rate. Teenagers and young adults simply cannot handle the workload and responsibilities that come with being a parent. Early pregnancy can also result in issues like unemployment, health risks, and various other problems.
On the other hand, late pregnancies have associated health risks, too. Older mothers have higher levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which stimulates the ovaries. Normally, women release just enough FSH to ovulate, but as menopause nears, they produce more, which can cause two eggs to ovulate, resulting in the potential for twins. Having twins would undoubtedly take an extra toll on the health of the expectant mother and may also involve further complications.
The possibility of a woman conceiving naturally after the age of 40 is almost half when compared to that of a younger woman.
Possible Problems with Conception at 40
Even though selecting the right age to get pregnant is absolutely your choice, there are certain medical aspects that must be considered when making a decision.
- Issues Related to Fertility
Fertility issues are one of the main concerns when planning for a pregnancy later in life. In earlier child-bearing ages, the ovarian follicles are at maximum capacity, but as we grow older, their number decreases, reducing the chances of becoming pregnant.
Female age plays an important part in giving birth. Women are born with a fixed number of eggs (approximately two million) and this number never increases. The quality of eggs plays an important role in determining fertility since it tends to deteriorate as a woman ages.
Most women in their 30s will conceive naturally, but as they enter their 40s, their chances drop by 50 percent. Also, the lower quality eggs produce embryos that are more likely to have chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down’s syndrome, or result in miscarriages.
Men in their 40s can have problems with fertility as well, so if you are trying to conceive a baby in your 40s, it is a good idea to have a fertility check done for both intended parents. There are several tests, including semen analysis, scrotal Doppler, ultrasound, and genetic testing, that can be performed to test male fertility. Many issues that are discovered can be treated through surgeries and medications.
There are several tests and observations that help to determine ovulation in a female’s body. If you are getting your period regularly(about every 28 to 30 days), then there are higher chances that you are ovulating.
Problems related to infertility can be treated through medications, ovulation induction, and surgical procedures. Other procedures that can help an older woman conceive include intrauterine insemination (IUI) ,which involves transferring sperm into the woman’s uterus; in-vitro fertilization (IVF), in which the fertilization of eggs with sperm is accomplished in a lab; and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
- Risk of Developing Medical Complications
There is a 50 percent higher chance of miscarriage in older moms as compared to younger ones because of the declining quality of eggs released by the ovaries.
As the ovaries age, the chance of releasing an egg that would result in a child with Down’s syndrome increases. Older eggs of reduced quality also have higher chances of other chromosomal mutations.
Lower quality of eggs can also lead to pregnancy loss, premature labor, miscarriages, low birth weight, and pre-term birth. With older expectant mothers, there are considerably higher chances of hypertension and diabetes. Furthermore, uterine fibroids and endometrial polyps in older women can also affect fertility.
At an older age, giving birth may result in more pain, insomnia, muscle pain, and fatigue as compared to younger mothers.
Men who are trying to become fathers in their late 30s or 40s are more likely to have a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Generational Gap
There are other problems that are associated with late pregnancies, including the wide generational gap existing between you and your child. With late conception, there are chances that your child might not be able to spend enough time with their grandparents since, if you are conceiving in your 40s, then your parents will likely be almost twice your age.
Another problem is your overall energy level; as you age, you may not be able to enjoy life fully and could end up exhausted. It is also likely that you won’t have enough energy to participate actively in school or co-curricular activities due to health or age.
With that being said, there are many older adults, even at 60, who are living an absolutely healthy and active life. It is a matter of lifestyle choices, in the long run, that will lead to successful conception later in life.
Is 40 Too Old to Have a Baby Naturally?
It becomes more difficult to conceive after 30 because uterine muscles are less effective. Older women have a lower rate of conceiving naturally, as compared to young mothers. It gets even more difficult if you are trying for the first baby at an older age.
However, it is not impossible to give birth naturally, even at 40,though there are more risk factors, including the possibility of a birth injury to the mother or the baby.
Moreover, preeclampsia may occur, and gynecologists usually agree that a c-section is preferred at an older age. Induction may also be performed at 39 weeks for older age women to reduce the risks of giving birth vaginally.
Things to Consider When You Have a Baby at 40
One of the most important things to keep in mind when you are trying to conceive a baby at 40 is the importance of maintaining a stress-free lifestyle, with a healthy routine and habits. It is important to avoid any type of stress because it will affect your overall health and will also impact your baby later on.
If you have made up your mind about trying to conceive, it is a good idea to start taking prenatal vitamins. These vitamins are a huge contributor towards preparing your body for conception.
Lastly, it is also essential to have routine checkups and medical consultations before taking any medicine. Extra scans and tests will be performed to insure your health. Because the older mother has a higher likelihood of developing gestational diabetes and hypertension, there is a need to monitor closely and manage medically.
Older women also have higher chances of developing high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and diabetes. This often results in the need for greater medical intervention.
Why You Should Not Have a Baby at 40?
Deciding to conceive at a certain age is indeed a very personal decision and the positive and negative factors vary from person to person.
Generally, older moms have lower chances of getting pregnant because of infertility related to aging. There is also a high risk of complicated pregnancies and other health problems.
Another reason why you may want to reconsider giving birth at 40 is the high commitment and increased responsibility that comes along with raising a baby. As compared to younger parents, many older parents suffer from more chronic sleep deprivation and have less energy to deal with the rest of life’s chores. It can become quite an ordeal to conceive at an older age and then manage to find all the time and energy to take care of a child.
It also can take much longer to conceive for older parents in comparison to younger ones. A young woman will usually conceive within twelve months, but the chance of conception drops by half as a woman enters her 40s.
There are many complications that are related to conception in your 40s. They include higher chances of miscarriage, preeclampsia, or gestational diabetes, and a low birth weight if a baby should result. There are higher chances of ectopic pregnancy occurring, as well.
How to Conceive a Healthy Baby at 40?
After reviewing all the factors and your options, if you still decide to start the journey of parenthood at an advanced maternal age, then you must carefully prepare.
To increase the chances of having a healthy child, make sure that you are maintaining a healthy body weight and avoiding smoking, alcohol, and drug consumption. As an older mom, you need to have a healthy, balanced diet that includes vegetables and fruits. Cut down on your caffeine intake and avoid any medications until you have consulted with your doctor. Focus on maintaining good health.
Ovaries stop releasing eggs after menopause, which is generally between the ages of 40 and 50 (it can also occur in a woman’s 30s, in rare cases). This period is called perimenopause and during this time, ovaries release their last few cells, which can cause irregular periods.
During the perimenopause phase, women can have a gap of months or years between their periods. Due to the gap in the menstrual cycle, a woman’s body releases the last eggs that can lead to pregnancy, and the babies born during this phase are called menopause babies.
Another possibility for maintaining the ability to conceive is vitrification, which is helpful for later-in-life pregnancies. Vitrification is the process of freezing eggs or sperm for later use. Women can freeze their eggs or a man’s sperm for whenever they are ready to have a child. The egg quality remains the same, so there is no risk factor in it.
You could also opt to receive a donor egg if you are experiencing infertility issues related to the quality of your own eggs.
Summary and Final Verdict
Without a doubt, being an older mother has its benefits, but some complications and problems may occur due to older age. However, it’s not impossible or selfish to have a baby at 40. With some extra care and regular medical checkups, you can conceive naturally and start a family with healthy kids.
Women who have given birth at an older age often report that it is worth all the effort. The keyword here is “effort” because, if you choose to become an older mom, you will have to put in greater energy and go the extra mile.