Are you 40 or older and thinking of becoming a mother? If you are, you’re not alone. Many women come to HRC Fertility to learn their options for motherhood in their forties. Some are afraid the motherhood ship may have sailed past them. But we know there are several options to help them fulfill their dreams.
If you are trying to conceive in your forties, here are some important considerations.
You are in good company
Statistically, more women over 40 are becoming mothers than ever before. Over the last three decades, that number has quadrupled. Some pundits are saying 40 is the new 30 for first-time motherhood.
According to a 2016 National Vital Statistics Report (Centers for Disease Control), the birth rate for women 40 to 44 increased 2% from 2013 to 2014. For those aged 45 to 49, it stayed the same while women over 50 had 743 births in 2014, a 66 increase from 2013. The trend seems to be pointing upward when it comes to the age at which women are giving birth.
You can get pregnant naturally
Even though fertility decreases significantly as women age, this does not mean women over 40 cannot get pregnant naturally. It most likely will take them longer to achieve pregnancy because the quantity and quality of their eggs have declined. They also are at higher risk of miscarriage because of chromosomal abnormalities. However, we caution couples to not wait too long before seeking the help of an infertility doctor. If you have tried without success for three months or more and as you age through your forties, please contact us.
There are medical interventions when you need help
There are many tools in our reproductive arsenal to help women over 40 achieve a successful pregnancy when assistance is required. You can decide to use either your eggs or those of an egg donor with in vitro fertilization. Some couples try an initial cycle with the prospective mom’s eggs. If this does not work and they decide to use a donated egg, their chance of success is the same as that of a younger woman who provided the genetic material.
You are older but wiser
By the time you decide to become a mother in your fourth decade, you may already have accomplished many of your professional and personal goals. Throughout your life, you also have learned from your mistakes and then applied that knowledge moving forward. Those experiences will help you become a better parent, and there is scientific research to bolster these assumptions.
A recent Danish study of 5000 mothers, published in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology, found older mothers to be calmer without needing to yell as much or impose harsh discipline with their children. The kids, in turn, exhibited fewer behavioral and social problems and better emotional well-being.
Pregnancy at an older age can make you wiser
2016 research from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California concluded that women who had their last babies after the age of 35 tended to function better cognitively after menopause than women who had their last children earlier in life. Scientists hypothesized this might be due to the surge in estrogen and progesterone, the pregnancy-related hormones.
Risks of older motherhood
In addition to infertility, there are increased risks for miscarriage, chromosomal abnormalities, and developing medical conditions like gestational diabetes and hypertension during pregnancy. Women also are more at risk of having a C-section as well as a preterm or low birth weight baby.
You can have a healthy pregnancy
Even with all the potential unpredictability of a later-in-life pregnancy, women over 40 can have a healthy pregnancy and childbirth with proper prenatal care and monitoring by an obstetrician. Chances are women who conceive later in life are very prepared and ready to undergo the challenges and joys of becoming a mother over 40.