The number of women having babies after 40 has increased significantly since the 1970s, according to the CDC. The agency noted that the number of first-time mothers aged 40 to 44 more than doubled between 1990 and 2012.
While women are typically told to have children before the age of 35, many women aren’t ready at that point in their life for a myriad of reasons, such as focusing on their career or using fertility treatments. Having a baby at 40 is possible, but it’s good to understand the benefits and risks that come with it.
Having a baby later in life can provide many advantages over having children when you’re in your 20s or 30s. For one, it can allow you to establish your career at a younger age so you’re ultimately able to spend more time with your family later down the line.
Another benefit is that not everyone meets their partner at a young age, or maybe you’re not ready for commitment. When having a baby, you want to make sure that you’re raising them with the right person and that doesn’t always happen until later in life. There has also been research that shows how having a baby later in your life can lead the child to have better educational outcomes, as well as health benefits for the mother such as reduced cognitive decline and longer life spans.
The common sentiment has often been that having a baby at 40 is considered high risk. While this is still the case, modern technology has made the entire process much safer than it was in the past. Your doctor will likely keep a close eye on you and the baby, looking at complications such as high blood pressure or birth defects such as down syndrome.
Another risk to be aware of is miscarriage. Miscarrying is always a risk when pregnant, but those chances tend to rise as you get older. Part of the reason this risk tends to rise when you’re over 40 is that you’re more likely to have chronic conditions than when you were younger. Conditions such as thyroid disease or diabetes can complicate pregnancy and potentially result in miscarriage among other issues.
Of course, it’s important that you talk to your doctor about any and all risks if you’re 40 and are thinking of having a baby. They can provide you with all of the important information and help you figure out the best approach for your situation.