Getting Pregnant at 40: What Are the Risks for the Mom and the Baby?

pregnant at 40. pregnant belly

Nowadays many women are getting pregnant at 40 and later. And there are certain reasons for this. Today women tend to first build a career, so they postpone pregnancy at a later date. However, few of them think about the fact that pregnancy after forty years in most cases is accompanied by complications. However, this does not make getting pregnant at 40 impossible or wrong. There are just a few important factors to think about before planning a child at this age.

Probability of Getting Pregnant at 40

With age, a woman’s chances of becoming a mother are decreasing. And this is not surprising, since the number of oocytes is gradually decreasing every year. By the age of 45 there is practically none of them. Therefore, the chances of getting pregnant within this year at this age are about 40-50%. The very process of conceiving a child can also last a long time. After all, with age, not only women, but also men lose their reproductive abilities. Therefore, the conception can take a sufficiently long period of time. Doctors say that if within one or two years of constant attempts to conceive a child a woman cannot become pregnant, only different reproductive technologies can solve this problem.

How Does the Age Affect Pregnancy?

The older a person becomes, the more likely it is that he/she develops any diseases. As a rule, closer to 40, many women develop chronic disorders, including diabetes. In addition, blood pressure may increase, and the risk of malignant tumors is very high. Of course, such violations adversely affect pregnancy after 40.

And even if a woman does not have any diseases, hypertension, diabetes and bleeding may appear in any period of pregnancy.

Pregnant at 40. Sad woman on bed with her husband in the background

Postpartum complications increase already after 20-29 years, but more often, and this is 20%, they manifest themselves at the age of 35-40 years. As a rule, with the development of modern medicine, any violations of pregnancy are recognized early enough. So, there is more chance that the child will be born healthy after the age of 40.

Getting Pregnant at 40: What Are the Risks?

Unfortunately, the difficulty of conception is not the only problem of getting pregnant at 40. The human body is arranged so that by the age of forty certain chronic diseases appear that can complicate the period of bearing the child and the birth. These include diabetes mellitus, hypertension, gynecological and other diseases. After forty years the chances of miscarriage grow proportionally to the age of the woman.

In addition, chromosomal abnormalities accumulated over the years of life in the genetic material of parents interfere with the process, which can also result in miscarriage or cause the birth of a child with genetically determined diseases, in particular, Down’s syndrome. The birth is more difficult at this age as well. Therefore, doctors recommend the majority of women a cesarean section.

Risks for a Future Mother:

  • Miscarriage. If women are under 30, the risk of miscarriage is 10%, in 30-39 years old women it is already 17%, and in 40-44 years old women it increases to 33%. The increasing risk of miscarriage is associated not only with the age-related changes in the entire female body, but also with the aging of the eggs themselves. As a result, the conception of a fetus with genetic disorders occurs much more often.
  • Placental problems (chronic placental insufficiency, placenta previa, premature detachment of the placenta).

Pregnant at 40. pregnant belly

Exacerbation of chronic diseases

  • Pregnancy can cause an exacerbation of almost any of the chronic diseases. With age the probability of a woman having such diseases only increases. Undoubtedly, pregnancy against a background of chronic kidney disease will require constant medical supervision. More than careful medical management of pregnancy is necessary for diseases of the cardiovascular system, in particular with hypertension. Arterial hypertension is itself a fairly common complication of pregnancy, and if a woman has previously suffered from this disease, pregnancy can worsen her general condition. As a result, the risk of gestosis or preeclampsia increases (a condition characterized by increased blood pressure, swelling and the presence of protein in the urine). The most severe manifestation of gestosis – eclampsia (convulsions) – can seriously upset the work of the nervous system up to the stroke and coma with a serious impairment of brain functions.
  • In women older than 40 years, diabetes of pregnant women develops 3 times more often than before 30. Diabetes of pregnant women requires compliance with diet and special appointments. Approximately 15% of women are prescribed insulin injections. In women with diabetes, during pregnancy, there is a risk of: pre-eclampsia, premature birth, placental complications, specific fetal damage – diabetic fetopathy, stillbirth.
  • Multiple pregnancy (age 35-39 is a peak of twin births). Complications during childbirth (high probability of poor uterine contraction strength, greater risk of rupture of soft birth canal due to decreased elasticity of tissues, bleeding caused by placental problems, etc.).
  • Cesarean section. In primiparous of 35-40 years, the probability of delivery by a cesarean section is 40%, over 40 years – 47% (while only 14% of women younger than 30 years give birth by Caesarean section).

Risks for the Future Child:

  1. premature delivery;
  2. small weight of the baby;
  3. danger of hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) during childbirth;
  4. risk of chromosomal abnormalities.

Pregnant at 40. pregnant woman and a doctor

Alas, with the age of parents, the risk of having a child with chromosomal abnormalities increases dramatically. This is due to various and not fully understood causes, including aging of germ cells, and the time-increasing effects of various pathogenic factors and toxic substances on the human body. Also, an increase in the percentage of miscarriages in elderly women is associated with gene mutations. Thus, embryos developing from cells with damaged chromosomes are not viable.

What Else Can Interfere with Pregnancy After 40?

  • Malnutrition.
  • Excessive consumption of coffee. If you drink more than two cups a day, then the ability to conceive is reduced. At the same time, the risk of miscarriage increases.
  • Alcohol consumption.
  • Smoking after 35 years is fraught with congenital malformation of the fetus and the birth of a child with low weight.
  • Leanness and obesity also interfere with getting pregnant at 40 and older.
  • Stress. The more a woman is nervous and worried, the less are the chances of having a baby after 40.

Planning Pregnancy after 40 Years

If the life situation or your own convictions lead you to late motherhood, it is better to be prepared in advance, taking into account all the above risks with all responsibility.

pregnant at 40 - woman thinking about a baby

Preparation for pregnancy includes the following activities:

  • healthy lifestyle – balanced and nutritious food, exclusion of overstrain (nervous and physical), rejection of bad habits;
  • taking care of health – conducting periodic studies of the body, timely treatment, losing excess weight, moderate physical activity;
  • taking multivitamins;
  • consultation of the endocrinologist, therapist and other specialists, if necessary.

Is There a Need to Consult a Doctor?

In women over 35 years old, there begins perimenopause, when it is very difficult to catch the days of ovulation. That is why it makes sense to ask a doctor for help who will determine what can be done. Most likely, he will develop a special diet and prescribe the intake of vitamins. Some doctors advise their patients to undergo the procedure of acupuncture. It has a positive effect on the development of ovulation.

Birth in Adulthood

Often, in order to give birth after 40, doctors have to stimulate childbirth and perform epidural anesthesia. Many women cannot give birth on their own. In such a situation doctors suggest a cesarean section.

Pregnant at 40. pregnant woman and her husband talking to the doctor

Individual studies show that much depends on the mood of the parturient women themselves. Those who are more clearly aware of everything more easily fulfill the requests of doctors and agree to a cesarean section.

Does the Risk of Birth through C-Section Increase with the Age?

Such a relationship is not established. Operative intervention has the same percentage, as at 30, as at 40 years.

Does the Age of the Mother Affect the Development of the Baby?

If you are pregnant at 40 and over, there is a high probability that the baby will be born unhealthy or with developmental abnormalities. The risk of giving birth to a child with a disease such as Down’s syndrome is also great.

According to the latest research, after 30 years, one child out of 400 is born with Down’s syndrome. After 40 – one out of 32 children. Moreover, late birth can result in ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage and the birth of a dead child. So far, it has not been possible to establish the cause of stillbirth in older pregnant women. Still, one out of 440 babies is currently born dead.

Pros of Late Pregnancy

There are a number of favorable circumstances for getting pregnant at 40 and older. First and foremost, there is enough time for strengthening the financial situation and getting stability in the family. Often this is no longer the first-born, but the second pregnancy and the dream of giving birth to not just a second child, but to have children of different sexes. Also, women themselves claim that they become calmer, more balanced, wiser and kinder with children at this age.

Pregnant at 40. happy pregnant couple

In our time, the development of prenatal diagnostics makes it possible to qualitatively examine the child at an early stage of gestation. It helps revealing, and more often excluding deviations in normal development. Doctors claim that the level of prenatal diagnostics caused the growth of the number of elderly mothers. And this is understandable, because with its help a woman acquires confidence in the ability to give birth to a healthy baby after 40 years of age.

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