I got pregnant when I was forty and had our son when I was forty-one. It was a textbook pregnancy. There were no complications. I didn’t have to have an epidural and the actual delivery took under fifteen minutes. The contractions although they were bad, they didn’t last long. I have heard some horror stories of women being in labor for more than 24 hours. I couldn’t imagine going through that.
In a couple of months our son will be celebrating his third birthday. Wow. Where did the time go? It seemed like only the other day I was holding him in my arms for the first time. The pregnancy was an experience I feel truly blessed to have had. At the time, though, I didn’t want to go through another one. I didn’t feel mentally or physically or even emotionally up to it. Before I had my son, I had always planned that when I got married, I would love to have twins–a boy and a girl. That of course didn’t happen. God blessed us with a son. And we have decided that we wouldn’t have more children because of my age. I am heading toward my mid-forties. We worry about the risks and are not willing to take them.
I have been adamant about not having a second child but I would have a couple women push me to consider it. There is one in particular who works in the office cafeteria. Every time I see her, she manages to bring the conversation around to me having another baby. I try to change the topic but she is persistent. I try to tell her that at my age I should not even be considering this but she brushes that excuse aside. She seems to believe that age is not a factor. Once when she broached the subject, I had a moment of insanity when I actually wanted to get pregnant again. Of course when I spoke to my fiance, he snapped me right back to reality.
There are times when I entertain the thought and imagine what the baby would look like. I like the idea of having a little girl who will look like her Daddy. But then, I think about the risks.
What are the risks? Are they worth taking? I decided to find out via the Internet.
With today’s medical technology, prenatal care, and well educated doctors women have the best chances ever to become pregnant and have successful pregnancies after age 40. However, the risks are there and women in this age range should be aware of them.
One risk many women over the age of 40 are most concerned with is genetic disorders. As a woman ages her entire body does as well, including her eggs. Many times Down Syndrome results from an older woman’s egg simply not dividing like it might have when the woman was younger. Of course, if you are age 40 or more and you want to have a child you should not let the slightly higher risk of genetic disorders or birth defects scare you. A woman who becomes pregnant at age 35 has a risk of 1 in 365 of having a baby with Down’s Syndrome. That risk increases to 1 in 100 with a woman 40 years of age and approximately to 1 in 40 for women 45 years of age. Any woman who becomes pregnant has a risk of about 3% to have a child with a birth defect. This percentage more than doubles for women over 40, but still the 6-8% risk is still relatively low.
These statistics seem pretty scary to women who are 40 years old or older but want to have a baby. However, the statistics are just that and while one out of ever 100 babies has Down’s Syndrome there are 99 other babies that are perfect. The best thing to do is visit your doctor before you become pregnant. Your doctor will advise you of your risks and give you a plan to help reduce risks. This includes eating healthy, exercising, treating any current diseases or disorders, and simply being as healthy as possible before pregnancy begins. At that point you will be better prepared to have a baby, your pregnancy will go smoother, and you will more than likely have a perfectly healthy baby.
There are tests that can be performed early in the pregnancy to see if your baby has a higher chance of having a genetic disorder or birth defect as well. As long as you work with your doctor and have prenatal care you will more than likely have a healthy baby at age 40 or older (http://www.amazingpregnancy.com/pregnancy-articles/543.html).
I had these tests done and everything was perfect. There were no concerns. For the first five months of my pregnancy I was mindful of having a miscarriage. I learned that not only is it more difficult to conceive after 40, but that the miscarriage rate increases with both maternal and paternal age, says Michelle Collins, a certified nurse midwife and an assistant professor of nursing at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Nashville. One woman said that she had her first child at 39 but at 43 she was having problems conceiving and had three miscarriages in one year. (http://www.pregnancytoday.com/articles/healthy-safe-pregnancy/pregnancy-after-40-6175/).
If you are forty or older and are considering having a baby, talk to your doctor first. Learn what your risks are and if you are willing to take them. If after talking to your doctor, you decide you want to go through with it, then start taking the prenatal vitamins, Folic Acid supplements and doing the necessary things. One person commented, if it is God’s will for you to have a child, it will happen. He let it happen with two women who were pushing way past 40–Sarah and Elizabeth and they both had healthy baby boys and back then they didn’t have the medical technology we have today. If I believed that God wanted to bless us with another child, I would go through with another pregnancy, trusting that everything will turn out just fine.
If you are a 40 or 40+ year old woman and are serious about getting pregnant again, don’t wait any longer. Consult your doctor and do what you need to do. I wish that all goes well for you and your baby.