Motherhood while forty is a trend that has been steadily rising. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the first birth rate for women aged 40–44 more than doubled between the years 1990 and 2012. For many reasons, becoming a mother in later life is a journey that more and more women are choosing to make. However, when considering this path, keep in mind some of the pros and cons.
- More stability – Women in their forties are much more likely to feel secure in their emotional, financial and professional lives. For some, this means being free to dedicate more time to raising children.
- Ready for parenthood – With more stability, women may feel that they’re in a much better position to tackle parenthood and all that it comes with.
- Safety – Having a baby in your forties is safer than ever before. Advances in maternal medicine, personal health and prenatal care make having a baby while forty a much smoother experience than it used to be.
- Effects of pregnancy – The pregnancy and labour itself will likely take a greater toll on your body. As we get older our bodies naturally take longer to recover and heal from significant physical changes.
- A higher risk of complications – According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women in their forties have a higher risk of complications such as pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy), miscarriage and stillbirth. While these risks will differ from woman to woman, they highlight the importance of a pre-pregnancy checkup and good prenatal care.
- Fertility declines – Although many women in their forties successfully become pregnant, a decline in fertility means that conceiving may be more difficult. Doctors recommend that women in this age group who have not become pregnant after three months of regular, unprotected sex make an appointment to see their doctor.
What you can do to have a healthy pregnancy in your forties
- Schedule a pre-pregnancy appointment – Make an appointment to see your doctor for a pre-pregnancy assessment. This is a great chance for you to review your medical history and go over any steps that you can personally take to have a safer pregnancy.
- Start healthy lifestyle changes now – Don’t wait until you become pregnant to quit smoking or stop alcohol intake. Try to make these positive changes now.
- Exercise – Think about starting some low-intensity exercise like walking or jogging. If you’re able to go into your pregnancy with a healthier weight and body, this definitely counts as a positive.
- Prenatal vitamins – Once the decision has been made to start trying to conceive, consider starting prenatal vitamins.
- Prenatal care – Take all aspects of your prenatal care seriously. Attend all prenatal appointments, prioritize any pregnancy-related check-ups and be sure to closely follow medical advice as it’s given.
Despite some challenges, many women in their forties will go on to have healthy pregnancies and babies. Seeing a healthcare provider as soon as possible, sticking to a healthy lifestyle and keeping up with all of your prenatal care will go a long way towards having a safe and healthy pregnancy.