Mid-Life Pregnancy

There are many reasons why women choose to wait until later in life to have children. They may want to further their education, establish a career and become financially stable before starting a family. Sometimes a second marriage can precipitate having children again. Empty nest syndrome can also leave parents wanting another child. Although fertility can be a problem for women as they get older some women find themselves conceiving more easily than expected.

Women who become pregnant later in life, for example, in their forties are at a higher risk for fetal abnormalities such as Down’s Syndrome and other conditions. There is also a higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth and more deliveries may take place by cesarean section. But mid-life pregnancy is certainly not hopeless. There may be more risk factors that occur with age but many of the same risks can exist in pregnant women of any age. Women over forty can have perfectly healthy babies.

Together, the expectant mother and her obstetrician can take steps to ensure a safe, healthy pregnancy and delivery. The obstetrician will monitor the woman’s condition, chart progress, be aware of any existing health conditions and be alert to any condition that may arise. The physician will also take every precaution to ensure her health and the health of the fetus. The mother can also do her best to ensure a healthy pregnancy by taking care of herself properly. If she follows her physician’s instructions, eats properly, gets plenty of rest and takes her prenatal vitamin supplements regularly she’s starting off on the right track. She should also abstain from smoking and drinking thereby reducing the risk factors associated with these habits.

Having a child at any age is a blessed event but for the woman that has tried for quite awhile and then suddenly finds herself expecting, it can take on a special meaning. There are occasions when a physician tells a woman that she may never conceive. A number of conditions may prevent conception or make it unlikely. She may have consigned herself to the fact that she may never bear a child of her own and then several years later the seemingly impossible happens and she finds that she is pregnant. It may seem as if a miracle but it does indeed happen at times. It may happen twenty years later. Nature works on its own timeline. Pregnancy can occur at a time when women think they’re too old to have children.

Middle-aged parents may have other concerns besides the physical health concerns of pregnancy and birth. They often worry that they’ll be too old to enjoy many activities with their child or that they may not live long enough to see their child grown up. There is no dispute that these are valid concerns but we cannot and should not base the quality of life on age or longevity. Many people live long, full lives. We must also remember that health and age don’t necessarily go hand and hand. Of course we know that with age, health may naturally tend to decline but unfortunately many young people suffer from debilitating health conditions as well.

Love is the greatest gift we can give to our children. Don’t let your fears keep you from living your life to the fullest and fulfilling your dreams. You have a lot to offer a child at any age. There are many positive attributes that we gain as we grow older; we are usually fairly well settled with our lives and more patient. If you’ve had previous children you don’t fear parental mistakes as much because you already know that each child is different and parenting is a learning experience for both you and your child.

I have two friends who both became pregnant in their forties – one for the first time and the other after raising two grown children. Both of them had healthy babies and are enjoying their children and their lives to the fullest.