Pregnancy After 40: The Health Risks and Benefits Uncovered

Pregnancy can be a very wonderful experience for a woman who wants a child. Women have always been told to have a child before they reach 40 years old due to the potential health risks to her and her unborn child. Having children later in life is becoming more common as women are more focused on careers and their personal achievements. Although more women are having children after 40 years old, there are many health risks associated with this. If you are a woman and want to get pregnant but are over 40 years old you might want to think about some of these health risks associated with pregnancy over 40 that researchers have found.

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Possible Health Risks and Negative Aspects

Having a child after 40 years old does not always mean you will have problems with your pregnancy but in some cases it does. Having a child after age 40 can greatly increase the odds of your baby having a medical problem. A woman over 40 years old who gets pregnant increases the risk that the baby will be born with a chromosomal abnormality. The most common chromosomal abnormality that occurs with giving birth over 40 years old is Down syndrome. There are diagnostic tests you can get such an amniocentesis which will sample the chromosomes of the unborn child to better determine whether an abnormality is present. Although these diagnostic tests are usually fairly accurate it might not catch an abnormality such as Down syndrome in 100 percent of cases.

Having a baby after you turn 40 also increases the risk of the baby being born with physical abnormalities or malformations. The baby might end up having a clubbed foot or facial abnormality like a Cystic Hygroma. Getting pregnant after 40 years old might also increase the risk of your child being born with heart problems, kidney problems or other organ-related conditions. Just like chromosomal testing, getting ultrasounds and sonograms to determine whether or not your baby has a physical abnormality is not always 100 percent accurate or able to catch an issue before your baby is born.


Women who get pregnant after they are 40 years old are also at risks for complications themselves. Women who are over 40 years old have a higher risk for gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. A woman who has high blood pressure during pregnancy might also develop preeclampsia which is a high blood pressure disease during pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a very serious and dangerous medical condition for both the mother and unborn child and can result in needing an emergency delivery of the baby.

If you are over 40 years old and are thinking of getting pregnant, you might also be concerned with the higher rate of miscarriages. If you look at someone in their 40’s and compare the miscarriage rate to someone in their 20s the risk becomes almost double. The body is going through many hormonal changes and fertility changes which can increase the risk associated with a miscarriage. Having medical problems such as high blood pressure or general poor health can also increase the odds of having a miscarriage.

A 40 year old woman will also probably have a harder time conceiving due to the normal decrease in egg production. While in your 30s the egg production and availability decreases so that by the time you are 40 there are not that many eggs left in your reproductive system. The lack of eggs available will make getting pregnant harder and a much more emotionally draining process. Due to the egg production decreasing, a woman in her 40s is more likely to need professional help to get pregnant. You might need to get fertility shots or take fertility medications to help conception be a viable option. Reproductive assistance might also be the only option for a woman trying to get pregnant after 40 and this can include in-vitro fertilization or anonymously donated eggs. This is a very time consuming process and it also is very expensive with insurance not always covering the reproductive assistance procedures. You might be trying everything you can and still not get pregnant if you are 40 years old which is a possible risk of spending all that money for nothing.

A woman in their 40s who has a pre-existing medical condition such as diabetes can be another contributing factor to possible birth defects. A lot of women do take care of their diabetes and other medical conditions but some women do not. If you have a medical condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure and you do not take care of it through healthy eating and medications, you might be putting your baby at risk. Someone who has these medical conditions and does not take care of them will increase their odds of delivering a very large baby. If you are a woman who is 40 years old and wants to get pregnant, you need to make sure you are eating healthy and controlling your medical conditions to ensure your baby gets proper nutrition during the pregnancy.

Another risk of having a baby after 40 years old is the possible complications during childbirth that could put you or your baby in danger. Giving birth naturally is something a lot of women hope to do but if you are over 40 years old, you might not have that choice. Older women who are over 40 are more likely to need a cesarean section before vaginal birth can occur due to potential risks. Being over 40 years old while you are pregnant can increase the risk of abnormal labor or premature births which is why natural delivery might not be available. If you develop preeclampsia during pregnancy it is most likely you will need an emergency cesarean section due to the risk to your baby. The increased risk of medical problems, birth defects, and premature births to a woman over 40 will make natural delivery almost impossible to achieve.

The Benefits of A Baby Over 40

Although there are a lot of medical risks associated with having a baby after age 40, there are a lot of benefits as well. A woman who decides to have a baby after 40 years old is more thorough in their prenatal care and more health-conscious as well. Someone who is in their 40’s will be more likely to take essential steps such as eating a healthy diet to ensure their pregnancy is normal. A woman in her 40’s is also more aware of exercise and prenatal care that should be done during the pregnancy. It is not saying a younger woman is irresponsible when pregnant but simply that a woman in her 40’s is more aware of their health and how it will influence their child during pregnancy.

A woman in her 40s who decides to get pregnant is also usually more financially stable which is a huge benefit. Women in their 40’s often times have a career going that they have been working for at least 10 years to achieve. With more women being in the workplace it means that more women are financially stable at 40 to take care of their baby. By the time a woman is 40 years old she has probably bought a nice car and nice home and has saved up some money for situations such as a baby. Being financially secure is a great benefit because it means that they will not be relying on the government for assistance which seems to be what a lot of younger people do. A woman in her 40’s also knows how to be more budget-conscious and is more likely to know how to save money on essentials during pregnancy and after pregnancy. A baby goes through a lot of diapers and formula the first six months so it is important that a woman knows how to save money when at all possible. Also the cost of diapers, crib, stroller and formula can be so expensive that a younger person might not be able to afford all of these essential things. A woman who is 40 years old should be more financially sound and will have an easier time buying the essential supplies for the baby.

Many women in their 40s who get pregnant also seem better prepared to deal with the issues that come along with pregnancy. Most women in their 40s have a secure job and secure mental foundation to deal with a lot of the issues that arise during pregnancy that some younger women might not know how to deal with. Women in their 40’s seem to be more knowledgeable when it comes to planning the pregnancy and then preparing for the baby and reading all the important information about having a baby. Women who are over 40 years old seem to be able to plan their job around their pregnancy and will often know they have a job waiting for them after maternity leave. The mentality of a woman in her 40s is way more mature which is great if you are trying to get pregnant at 40.

Socially speaking, a woman who is 40 years old and planning to become pregnant has a better support system. Women in their 40s usually have a group of friends who she knows she can count on no matter what. Having a strong support system of friends is important for a woman over 40 because they need to rely on other people sometimes. If you have a child after 40 years old and need to get away for a while or go to work, you know there is always going to be someone willing to help you out and watch your baby. Socially, a woman in her 40s is also probably friends with women who have children also so it makes for a better relationship with those friends. It is also important to be involved in the life of your friend who already has a child because it can help you better prepare for motherhood. Being in your 40’s and preparing for a baby can be a lot of work so it is good to have a friend who has a child already who can go shopping with you and tell you the items you will need.

By the time a woman is 40 years old often times marriages and relationships are already developed which is another benefit when you have a child. You will already have a partner to help you during the pregnancy and help you care for the child after delivery which is something younger women might not have. Being married also helps financially because if you are out of work for maternity leave, you can rely on someone such as your husband to provide for you during this time. Being pregnant can put a lot of stress on a marriage or relationship at any age, but when you are 40 and pregnant it becomes a little easier to manage. It also helps being married because if you do not have a job at 40 years old you know you have insurance through your husband for you and your baby. It also is beneficial being 40 years old and pregnant because you probably own your own car and do not have to rely on someone else to take you to your doctor appointments.

Another benefit of having a child after 40 years old is knowing more about life in general. When you are young and have a child you often times have not been around the world long enough to understand the complexity of pregnancy and the proper ways to deal with a child. When you are 40 years old you have seen a lot of things and experienced a lot of things which can help you be a better mother and caregiver. We learn a lot of things as we get older and generally have a better understanding of the world around us and the principles we should live by. Being over 40 years old and having a child can make you a better mother because you will be able to guide and teach your child in ways a younger mother can not. Generally having a better understanding of yourself and the world around you will help you know the morals and principles you should pass along to your child.




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Jeanne Rose
Jeanne Rose lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has been a freelance writer since 2010. She took Allied Health in vocational school where she earned her CNA/PCA, and worked in a hospital for 3 years. Jeanne enjoys writing about science, health, politics, business, and other topics as well.

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