Risks of being a mother after 40

by Maria Eleftheriadou, last updated 19 Jan 2022,

4 min read

It is fairly common for women and couples to decide to create their families after the age of 40. The desire to become a mother becomes more prominent when issues like financial stability, experience and knowledge have been accomplished and having a family is the next step.

Things you must remember if you are around this age and you are planning to get pregnant are:

  1. Most women who will conceive over the age of 40 have healthy pregnancies and babies.
  2. Women above the age of 40, though, are considered of an advanced reproductive age and any pregnancy after this age is marked as high risk.
  3. Delaying your pregnancy after the age of 40 can sometimes mean that one faces risks.

Let’s take a closer look:

The biggest barrier of pregnancy after the age of 40 is fertility.

Needless to say, some women have no issues getting pregnant while in their 40s.
But believe it or not, it is more likely to need the assistance of fertility treatments the older you get when you are trying to conceive.
Why is this so? The reason is attributed to the fact that eggs gradually decline in number and quality as you age.

If you’re over 35, you’re considered of an “advanced maternal age” — with fertility starting to drop around 32 and taking a particularly deep nosedive after the age of 37.

By the age of 44, the chances of spontaneous pregnancy approach zero, according to the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Miscarriages

It is important to remember that one of the most frequent reasons for pregnancy losses is caused by chromosomal abnormalities of the embryo, which are more frequent in women of an advanced reproductive age.

Preterm Labour

While pregnant at an advanced reproductive age, you have higher risks that your baby is born early and with a lower birth weight. If other factors also exist (twin pregnancy, a short cervix, miscarriages etc.) such a risk becomes higher. Close monitoring and complying with the advice of your doctor wil help prevent such a situation.

Pre-eclampsia and Gestational Diabetes

As you age, your chances of developing specific cardiovascular issues increase. That is one of the reasons women over 40 are at higher risk for pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine during pregnancy, which can be life-threatening). Another serious complication is gestational diabetes (abnormally high blood sugar during pregnancy). The good news is that there is a test for gestational diabetes, and the doctor may recommend a treatment or nutrition for you, depending on the results.

Chromosomal problems

You know the score; the older the egg, the more likely it is to have chromosomal issues, which can increase your child’s risk for certain congenital disabilities. At 25, the risk for Down syndrome, the most common chromosomal condition, is about one in 1,200; at age 40, that risk jumps to about one in 100. Of course, noninvasive blood tests for chromosomal issues allow you to get information about your child’s DNA as early as at ten weeks.

Complications during labour

Due to your age, you may be a candidate for labour induction or a caesarean section, or require an assisted birth to deliver your baby. Complications in labour at older ages include risks like a higher chance of bleeding heavily than normal after birth or other risks associated with a woman’s health condition (e.g. existing myomas, other health issues, etc.).

It is essential to understand that every pregnancy is different, so you may not experience any of the above or have only minor issues.

It is equally important to pay special attention to your age and condition and consult your doctor. Trust me; you’ll be glad you did.

At the same time, a few ways to help yourself while you are trying to conceive are:

  • not smoking
  • eating a healthy and balanced diet
  • losing weight before pregnancy if you are overweight or obese
  • not drinking alcohol
  • exercising regularly
  • keep trying!

The bottom line is to take the next step if you are over 40 and get in touch with a fertility doctor.

At Newlife, we assess every woman based on her individual characteristics, and we always estimate the potential risks before pregnancy based on her medical history.

Please contact us, so we can arrange a free medical consultation appointment and discuss your case.

Good Luck!

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