The magical number for most women has always been 40. The accepted wisdom being that after age 40 the eggs are “old” and becoming pregnant is more difficult or the eggs are not as good quality and therefore the risk is higher for birth defects and genetic-related diseases in the baby. What are the accurate facts and issues surrounding women trying to get pregnant after age 40?
Those women who are still trying to conceive after age 40 are presumably still trying because they have had difficulty conceiving or they delayed motherhood for careers or other reasons and are now ready for the pregnancy adventure but are their bodies still ready or even up to the adventure of pregnancy?
Women trying to conceive after age 40 cringe when medical personnel refer to them as “of advanced maternal age” as if they were in the 60s or 70s. The truth is that obstetricians really do not care about such physical things as how you look; feel or if you can still fit into the same clothes you did when you were in high school.
The only thing that matters when you are trying to get pregnant is the health of your ova and ovaries. The vast majority of women who successfully conceive in there 40s go on to deliver healthy babies.
The female fertility declines with age, while males have the ability to manufacture sperm all their lives. When the female baby is born, all the eggs her body will ever produce are already in her ovaries. Over time the eggs decrease in quality. This decrease in quality leads to fertility issues.
If a woman has put off reproduction until her 40s she may be facing inferior eggs. This leads to an increased risk for miscarriage, stillbirth or even infant death. These older eggs are more likely to have chromosomal problems, which leads to these issues. It is also a fact that older women are more likely to conceive multiple gestations during a pregnancy. If a woman is age 45 or more she has a 10 time higher risk for becoming pregnant with more than one baby.
The pregnancy complications also increase when the woman is age 40 or more. Complications of pregnancy can include diabetes, pre-eclampsia, placenta previa, placental abruption, preterm delivery, intrauterine growth and retardation. If this is her first child and she is 40 or older at the time of the birth she has 4 times the chance for developing gestational diabetes during her pregnancy.
Women 40 and older are also at more risk for already having health issues before becoming pregnant that may adversely affect their pregnancy outcome.
Not only are older mothers more likely to have pregnancy complications but they are more likely to experience health problems as a result of the pregnancy such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. They can also experience a cesarean birth. A recent study shows that women age 44 or more are 7.5 times more likely to need a cesarean delivery.
If you are age 40 or more and desire to have a baby talk to your healthcare provider about all the support and testing available for you to receive answers about the chances for a healthy pregnancy. Technology today allows medical professionals the tools to help women in their 40s have a higher chance for a successful pregnancy despite the odds. More information is known about the connection between proper diet, good exercise and staying stress free.