Pregnancy After 40

Pros and Cons of Having a Baby At 40 Years Old

Four Women Holding Pregnant Bellies
Written by Leslie Sangster

There are many reasons that you may want to have a baby after the age of 40. From wanting more kids to having children with a new partner, more and more women are having babies in their 40’s.

When you go to find out information about having a child later in life and the pros and cons of having a baby in your 40s, you will find some advantages discussed but a lot of the information can be discouraging. A lot of people have opinions about this topic, and many of these people are not supportive of this type of pregnancy. This can cause many women to be more scared than they normally would be.

Since the majority of information concentrates on the disadvantages and risks, here we’re going to take a balanced look at the topic. So here are some pros and cons of becoming pregnant over 40.

Advantages of Pregnancy At 40

1) You Are More Financially Stable

Many people are, lets say “less responsible” when they are in their 20’s. As they get older they gradually become more responsible, particularly with their money.

The fact that you are less responsible when you are younger can be made worse when you have a child. Having a child when you are older, however, gives you the time to mature and enter into motherhood with more established good financial habits.

In addition, you are more likely to have an established career when you are older. This is because you are more likely to have risen above entry level jobs and have a much better idea of what you want to do and how to get there. When you are trying to figure these things about and also have a child to take care of, things can be much more difficult.

Another advantage is that because the households many times are more financially stable, children of older mothers tend to have better home situations as a whole, and are more likely to excel in their endeavors.

2) Makes You Feel Young

Many times when you hit 40 you’re at the point when you’ve achieved a lot of the things you want for yourself. This can make things start to seem mundane. When you have a child, however, you can start to relive many of life’s events through the eyes of your baby.

Suddenly, holidays are much more meaningful as your child experiences them for the first time. Birthdays are more interesting as not only do you celebrate yours, but you also have another one to celebrate. This is going to require some planning and delving into many “child friendly” activities which can “bring back your youth” so to speak.

You’ll also be driving your child around as they get older to various after school activities. These things can remind you of what it was like when you were your child’s age.

3) You Are More Appreciative

Let’s face it: everyone thinks they’re invincible when they’re younger. Also, you’re more likely to take things for granted when you are younger. So when younger women get pregnant, they figure it is something that can happen easily and can even look at it as a burden.

This is much less likely to happen if you have a baby in your 40’s. You know how difficult it can be compared to younger women and don’t take it for granted.

The fact that you are more appreciative can help to get you through those long nights when baby just isn’t sleeping or wakes up for a meal.

4) You Will Likely Live Longer

This is an interesting benefit. It seems from the data that women who give birth later in life seem to live longer.

According to the New England Centenarian Study mothers who gave birth after the age of 40 are 4 times as likely to live to age 100 as women who had their last child at a younger age.

There were similar results in the journal Menopause, which found that women who had babies after the age of 33 were twice as likely to live to the age of 95 as those who had their last child at age 29.

Now whether this means that having a baby later in life increases your longevity or that later pregnancy simply shows that your body is aging more slowly has not been determined. But one fact seems to be clear from these studies: if you have a baby later, you will likely live longer.

5) You Have More Life Experience

When you have kids at an early age, many times you are unable to do a lot of things that you may have wanted to do. By having a child when you are more established, however, you can go into motherhood with a lot more life lessons than you had when you were younger.

You have also likely done a lot more of what you’ve wanted to do and can concentrate on raising your child(ren) without worrying as much about establishing yourself in life. Because of this you are much less likely to feel like you’ve missed out on things in your life due to raising your child since you’ve already achieved a number of your goals.

6) You Are More Likely to be in a Stable Relationship

When you are younger, it can take you a while to find the right relationship. Not only are you trying to figure yourself out, but you’re also trying to figure out people you are trying to start relationships with.

Many times having a child younger can complicate matters. You’ll have to balance dating with daycare, activities, and all sorts of other things.

When you have a child later in life, you are more likely to have a much better understanding of what you want in a partner, and are much more likely to have found someone who is a better fit for you than the people you considered when you were younger.

7) Your Child Has More Education

According to a study published in Population and Development Review children born to older mothers have a better chance of achieving higher education. One of the things they did was compare children born decades apart to the same parents. They found that the younger child tended to stay in the education system a year longer than the child born earlier.

In fact, according to another study of the mothers’ age and child development there is a relationship between having an older mother and increases in the child’s reading and math scores in addition to a decrease in behavior problems.

So understand that although you nay get criticism for having a child when you are older, your children will likely be much better educated than children of younger mothers. You’ll also encounter fewer behavioral problems, likely because you are better equipped to handle discipline problems than younger women.

8) Your Child Has Less Chance of Injury

Now here’s something most people haven’t thought about. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal children born to older mothers were at less of a risk of having injuries that required medical attention. Put simply, children of older mothers tend to get fewer serious injuries than children of younger mothers.

It makes sense if you think about it. Most people tend to become more responsible as they get older, and this extends to caring for children. Where you may take your eyes off of your child when you were in your 20’s, you watch a bit more closely in your 40’s.

Where you may have let the child balance on one foot on a toy in your 20’s, you saw them fall and get hurt. Now in your 40’s you don’t want that to happen again.

Disadvantages of Pregnancy At 40

Now as we all know, having a baby at 40 isn’t all sunshine and roses. In fact, you’ve probably seen a lot of the following information in other places on the web. Since we are trying to be thorough in the information we give, here are some of the disadvantages of pregnancy after 40:

1) It is Harder Get Pregnant

The chances of a woman in her 20’s getting pregnant is about 20% each month. After 40, those chances reduce to 5%. Put quite simply, it is much more difficult to get pregnant after 40.

You see women are born with all of the eggs they’ll have in their lifetimes, which is somewhere between 1 and 2 million eggs. By the time she reaches puberty, a woman has around 300,000-400,000 eggs as a number die each month before puberty.

Each month after puberty begins women continue to lose eggs each month. Since the number of eggs you have doesn’t increase during your life, at some point you will be out of eggs. This point is typically in your mid to late 40s.

In addition women’s menstrual cycles become shorter after the age of 35. Since the menstrual cycle is when the body releases eggs, it is more difficult to get pregnant as the window for releasing eggs shortens. Eventually women will skip some cycles altogether, and finally the cycles will stop, generally in the mid to late 40s.

So when you are trying to have a baby over the age of 40, you are already trying when your body is starting to skip some cycles.

According to the medical director at one of the US’s largest fertility clinics “We’ve never had a successful birth on a woman over the age of 44 using her own eggs”. So typically when you are approaching this age it can be quite difficult to conceive naturally.

2) You Are at a Greater Risk for Pregnancy Complications

As a mother, some of the chances for pregnancy complications increases with age. So there are physical ailments that are more likely to happen if you are over 40.

Some of these things, like Gestational Diabetes or Gestational Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) are “pregnancy versions” of ailments that can appear during pregnancy and go away after pregnancy.

Even if they go away post pregnancy, they can have adverse affects on your baby if left untreated.

There are other age related issues which can lead to issues that directly affect the child. In the case of premature labor, the baby can be born early, sometimes early enough that their health is jeopardized because they didn’t develop long enough in the womb.

Women over 40 are also more likely to have a Cesarean Section, which brings with it an increased chance for complications like uncontrolled bleeding. So because it is more likely that the baby will have some kind of complication, this increases the chances of a Cesarean Section for older mothers, which increases the chances for these complications.

3) There is a Greater Chance of Miscarriage

This one can be devastating. There are other physical issues which can reduce the health for either the mother or baby or both, but miscarriage, basically a loss of the baby before birth, is one that is particularly painful.

For women under the age of 35, there’s about a 15% chance of miscarriage. For women over 40, that percentage is between 20 and 35%. Although you are still more likely to have the baby than to miscarry, the difference is significant enough to give some women pause when considering having a baby over 40.

4) You’ll be Older at Your Child’s Life Milestones

This is much more purely social than physically related, but it is something to consider. When you eventually attends parent meetings, you’ll likely be 10-20 years older than many of the other mothers there.

In addition there are the child’s important events that generally come at a certain age. When your child first goes to grade school at 5 years old, you’ll be 45 assuming you had your child at 40. When your child graduates high school, however, you’ll be 58, and you’ll be close to retirement age (65) when your child graduates from college.

5) It can be More Difficult to Stay In Shape

Let’s face it: when you were in your 20’s you could physically recover from just about anything. Not only could you recover, but you would recover fast! This includes getting in shape after a period of time off. “Oh, I’ll just work out a little more” was relatively easy to do.

But now you’re older, and it can take twice as much effort to get half the results. Not only is this happening, but you also have a baby that is taking a lot of your energy both physically and mentally. It can be a chore just to make the decision to work out, much less following through with it!

In addition your body has likely changed, not necessarily in a good way. The term “baby weight” is real, and getting it off is actually more difficult as your body has changes as you get older. Not only is it physically more difficult, but you have less time as that little one has to be fed! These facts can make it increasingly difficult to get in shape.

6) You’ll Encounter More Social Disapproval

In general, having babies is a young woman’s game. Based on physical attributes, women have better overall outcomes when you have babies younger than 40. So when you get pregnant after 40 people take notice. Some of these people can be very judgmental.

From calling pregnant women over 40 “selfish” to the technical term for pregnancies over 35 which is “Geriatric Pregnancy”, women over 40 who become pregnant can face all kinds of social opposition.

So just be prepared for this. Everyone in your life isn’t going to be as happy as you are about your pregnancy. In fact, some will try and deter you from trying to get pregnant.

Final Thoughts

There are many things to consider when having a child at any age, but the issues can be more striking when you are having a baby over 40. It seems like many of the advantages and risks are amplified, and only you can determine which category carries more weight for you and your family.

Hopefully this can get you thinking about some of the things to consider if you’re attempting to get pregnant or knowing what’s to come if you are pregnant. And hopefully we’ve been able to show some of the advantages in addition to the disadvantages you’ve likely seen all over the web. Be safe and good luck!

Disclaimer: The content in this article is merely the writer's opinion and information - not advice. If you have questions, you should always seek the advice of a doctor or another appropriate medical professional.