What Women Need To Know About Having A Baby Later In Life
The average age of women having their first child continues to rise. In 1970, the average age was 21. In 2000, it was 24. In 2014, it was 26.
And now in 2017: the average age is 28.
More and more women are pursuing higher levels of education, waiting to attain certain levels in their career, and traveling more extensively. Access to effective birth control also helps bring this age up.
But healthcare advances play a big role too. Modern medicine, fertility treatments, and scientific understanding is making it more and more possible for women in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s to have a baby.
Recently, Janet Jackson gave birth at 50, and a woman in India was around 70 years old (she does not have a birth certificate) when she gave birth to her first child in 2016.
All of this is undoubtedly great and exciting news for women 35 and up who desperately want a child of their own. While that hope is real, there are some really important things to consider before you try to have a baby in your 30s and beyond.
The Stats To Know First
Just because getting pregnant in later years is absolutely possible, does not mean it is always easy – or even always successful. It is important to realize the reality of the situation. Not to discourage you, but to give you the facts you need to make the right choices.
- At 30, your chance of getting pregnant with each cycle is 20%. At 40, your chance of getting pregnant with each cycle is 5%. At 45, it drops to 1%. Most of this has to do with the number of eggs as well as the quality. Once you hit 40, you only have 3% of your eggs left.
- 82% of women between 35 and 39 who get pregnant within one year of trying; 86% of women between 27 and 34 get pregnant within one year of trying. This is a seriously negligible difference. So women in their late 30s should be encouraged.
- The older you are when you get pregnant, the higher the risk for developing gestational diabetes
- Women under 30 have a miscarriage rate of 8%. Between 30 and 34, that rate goes up to 12%. Late 30s is 22%, and early 40s is somewhere between 33% and 45%. Once you are over 44, the miscarriage rate is 60%.
As these stats show, it is obviously easier to get pregnant in your 30s than in your 40s. But they also show you that it is not impossible to have a baby after 40.
What these facts should tell you is just how important it is to partner with a great doctor who understands the complexities of an older pregnancy. Together, you can make a conception plan, pregnancy plan, and birth plan.
Timing Your Ovulation
One important thing for women to understand is their ovulation times can change as they age. As you get older, you can often start ovulation earlier in your cycle. You cannot count on when you used to ovulate in your 20s.
The best way to make sure that incorrectly calculating your ovulation is not keeping you from getting pregnant is to track your cycle each month. You should pay very close attention to cervical mucus (look for an egg white consistency when you are ovulating) and track your body temperature upon waking (the day you ovulate will have a spike.)
Go In For Fertility Testing
While women in their 20s or early 30s may try for months and months before they go in for fertility testing, you may not have that much time to waste. If you do not get pregnant within a month or two, go ahead and see your doctor right away.
They will test your eggs, check to see if you are in early menopause (early onset can start in your 30s), and do tests to see if you have issues like blocked tubes. Having all of that information will help you make the right decisions.
Freezing Your Eggs
If you know you want to have a baby, but cannot have one right now, you should really consider egg or embryo freezing.
This is especially true of women approaching that 35-year mark. When a woman is still under 35 years old when she freezes her eggs, those eggs will become successful pregnancies half of the time. After 40, that number drops down to 9%.
But be aware that it will cost you. Expect to pay somewhere around $8,000 for one cycle.
Fertility Treatment Options
In vitro fertilization is often the go-to method to help older women get pregnant. But it is important to keep in mind that the success of in vitro fertilization cycles decreases as you get older.
- Women between the ages of 35 and 37 have a 32% of a live birth with the cycle
- Women between the ages of 38 and 40 have a 21% rate
- Women between the ages of 41 and 42 have an 11% rate
- Women between the ages of 43 and 44 have a 5% rate
- Women over 44 have a 2% rate
One way to dramatically improve the success of IVF is to go the egg donor route. The issue may not be your body’s ability to carry a pregnancy, but rather with the egg themselves. One option is to use an egg donated by a younger woman. One clinic in particular says their IVF success rate with donated eggs is 58% for all ages.
Older Parenting: Pros And Cons
If the whole conception process feels exhausting in your 30s, 40s, or 50s, so will parenting. That is 18 years of child rearing before they head off to college. You will have to assess if you will have the time and energy to have a child not only in 9 months, but also 5 years from now and 10 years from now….
But being an older parent has some perks too. You are smarter, wiser, more experienced, and probably more stable. Chances are you have more money, a nicer home in a better neighborhood, and plenty of relational connections.
If you feel like you are actually in an ideal place to raise a child, hopefully this article has given you the hope that it can be a possibility.
Having Your Baby
To wrap us up, here is a video of some top tips for fertility over 35 from professionals:
And of course, giving your body the boost that it needs plays an important role in conception. A great prenatal with supplements like Myo-Inositol, Chaste Tree Berry, vitamins, and trace minerals will give your reproductive system some extra strength.
You should also talk to your doctor or midwife about stress-reducing, fertility-boosting methods like acupuncture. You may also need to pick up an exercise regime, or even slow down your current one.
But no matter what – feel encouraged that there are real options for older mothers. The trends of the U.S. are moving in the direction of having babies once women are more established and stable. You are certainly not alone.