Getting Pregnant After Forty
Advantages of Waiting to Get Pregnant
Whether you purposely waited to have children, perhaps because of your career, or it just turned out that way, the chances of getting pregnant after forty are somewhat diminished, and you may have to turn to fertility treatments to make your dream of parenthood a reality. Waiting until you are older to have a baby likely means you have had time to see the world and do the things you've dreamed of doing. You are probably more financially secure, and more firmly entrenched in your career of choice.
If you are married, you and your partner have probably had a chance to really get to know each other, and are more solid in your relationship. There are definite financial benefits to waiting to have children; one study done in the UK showed that working women save almost $21,000 for each year they put off having children. Parents in their forties tend to be much calmer, more focused parents than younger parents, and have little interest in partying or staying out all night. Older parents are usually much more patient than their younger counterparts, and are less stressed-out about typical child-rearing issues.
Disadvantages of Waiting to Get Pregnant
Probably the biggest downside to waiting until you are in your forties to get pregnant is that it can be much more difficult to conceive. Even as much as fifteen years prior to menopause, a woman's eggs begin to decline, and the eggs she produces are more likely to have chromosomal problems which can result in miscarriage or birth defects. In other words, once you pass forty, every single year brings a steep drop in fertility. You also have a much higher risk of pregnancy complications in your 40's such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, placenta previa, and the risk of delivering a low-birth weight baby. Older mothers have a higher risk of having a baby with Down's syndrome or other birth defects, although many will have amniocentesis to determine the health of their baby. Finally, you may have to work much longer than your counterparts because you will still be financially responsible for a child at a time when others your age are thinking of retirement.
Odds of Success for Pregnancy After Forty
As stated, you may find it much more difficult to get pregnant at forty than at twenty or thirty; a forty year old woman who is being treated for infertility has approximately a 25% chance of getting pregnant with their own eggs, while by age 43 that number drops to 10 percent, and to 1.6% by age 44. Fully 2/3 of women over forty will experience difficulty in getting pregnant because once you pass 40, you have only a five percent chance of getting pregnant in any given ovulation cycle. At age 43, your chances of conception drop to a dismal 1-2%. Of course women who were not planning a pregnancy and find themselves pregnant in their forties would likely refute those statistics!
Risks and Complications
Miscarriage rates also rise sharply in women over 40; from the ages of 40-44, the miscarriage rate is 33%, however for women 45 and older, it rises another twenty percent on top of that number. At the age of 40, you have approximately a one in 85 chance of carrying a child with Down's syndrome, however once you pass age 45, your odds are one in 30. First time mothers who are over the age of 40 have a much higher rate of having a C-section, having a breech birth, postpartum hemorrhage or placenta previa.
Don't let these statistics alarm you, however. Many, many older women have had normal, successful births and now have normal, happy babies and toddlers.