Pregnancy in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s

“Is there a perfect age to have a baby?” asks Parents.com. They go on to list the pros and cons of having a baby in every child-bearing decade. Some women find themselves in their mid 30’s or early 40’s trying to conceive, becuase they were pursuing a career, waiting to find the right one to settle down with, or did not feel financially secure or emotionally prepared in their 20’s. But the truth is that the earlier you have children, the better your body will handle it and the better chance you have of a healthy baby. So think again before pushing off the baby-making another five years!

The 20’s: Ideal

The younger, the better! Today, the typical American woman gives birth around 25 years old.  (Thirty years ago the average was 21!)  Your eggs are young and therefore more likely to be healthy. This means:

  • It is generally easy to conceive now
  • You have a lower risk of birth defects
  • The chances that you’ll miscarry are minimal
  • Pregnancy is tiring, but you’ll have more energy to carry you through
  • After birth, you’ll bounce back relatively quickly
  • You have a high chance of giving birth vaginally because your body has more muscle tone in the uterus and abs. This makes pushing easier.

The cons about having kids in your 20’s? There really are none, unless you do not feel ready to have a baby. As Dr. Goldstein at Parents.com puts it, “societal norms have outpaced evolutionary ones. Younger bodies are better able to handle the physical demands of pregnancy, but you may not feel financially or psychologically prepared to be a parent at that stage,” he says.

The 30’s: In good company

In your early 30’s, pregnancy is much the same as in your 20’s. Your health, energy, fertility, and quality of eggs are still all at optimal levels. The risks of genetic defects is low and the chances of a smooth pregnancy are good.

Unfortunately, as you get older, the risks increase.

  • In your later 30’s, the odds of miscarriage are about 20%,  due to declining egg quality.
  • Your pregnancy will be monitored more closely, and you may be asked if you want to be screened for chromosomal abnormalities.

But there’s no need to panic. Many women in their late 30’s have completely normal pregnancies and healthy babies. They may also have the added luxury of financial security and the maturity needed to parent wisely.

The 40’s: Never too late!

Having a baby in your 40’s may be exhausting, but chances are you’re so happy to be pregnant you could care less! And Dr. Goldstein notes that women are a lot healthier at 40 than they were even a generation ago, “so it may not be as difficult as you expect.”

What is cause for concern, however, is the risk of birth defects.

  • The older your eggs are, the more likely it is that an embryo’s chromosomes will be improperly sorted.
  • At 40, the chances a fetus will have Down syndrome is 1 in 100.
  • This risk of chromosomal imbalance also partly explains why the risk of miscarriage stands at more than 50 percent by age 42.
  • Due to these higher risks, you may be urged to get extra testing at this stage.
  • Your doctor will also be vigilant about checking you for chronic health problems. First-time moms over 40 are 60 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure and four times more likely to develop diabetes during pregnancy than mothers in their 20s.
  • They are also eight times as likely as women in their 20s to suffer placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta is implanted low in the uterus — sometimes over the cervix — impeding delivery.
  • C-sections are also more common in older moms, since they may suffer from other health problems such as fibroids, which can complicate delivery, adds Dr. Goldstein.

Although this list of “likehoods” is overwhelming, it is never too late to try.  You too may be blessed with a healthy baby, like other 40-something women have.  And if it makes you feel better, you are less likely to experience morning sickness when you’re older. Becoming a parent when you are settled, mature, and secure means you can afford to give your baby the best life has to offer.

image from it’s about love

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