Posted: Apr 11, 2012 5:38 PM
They say that 40 is the new 30, so what better time to have a baby? Whether you’re just starting your family or already have other children, here’s what to expect about pregnancy in your 40s.

Your life

Most women in their 40s have well-established careers, more life experiences and a more relaxed home life than they did in their younger years. Marriage and relationships may be more stable, confidence is high and many women feel the best they’ve ever felt. No wonder many women in their 40s are experiencing pregnancy for the first time.

Your finances are most likely more stable now, which takes away some of the stress of expenses. This is especially important if infertility is an issue, as treatments aren’t always covered by insurance and can be expensive. Many women who plan pregnancy in their 40s have waited until their careers were stable to start a family and have had years to set money aside for starting a family.

Your body

There’s no question that conception in your 40s can be challenging -- especially if you are trying to use your own eggs. Baby girls are born with a lifetime supply of eggs, which by the age of 43 has dwindled significantly.

The later into your 40s you are, the chances that you will conceive are more drastically reduced. “Many non-genetic factors determine late-life fertility, such as use of birth control, degree of sexual activity and medical problems that affect the uterus and ovaries,” says Dr. Philip Chenette. “Some of these factors are determined by personal choice, and some are events that occur naturally. Many are not genetically determined.”

What to watch for

Pregnancy in your 40s carries with it an increased risk of Down’s syndrome, as well as other chromosomal abnormalities. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Development, the chance that a baby born to a mother in her 40s will be affected by Down’s is one in 100 -- compared to one in 1,250 for a mother in her 20s. Your doctor will recommend amniocentesis to detect genetic defects.

The risk of miscarriage is higher in your 40s, as is the rate of caesarean birth. Complications due to placenta previa, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes are more common, as are pre-term birth and low birth-weight. Follow up with your doctor on all lab tests, go to all of your prenatal appointments and take good care of yourself in order to avoid as many complications as possible.

With all of the advancements in prenatal care and infertility treatments, many women in their 40s are embracing this as a perfect time to bring new life into the world.