Pregnancy at 40: Is age important? Pregnancy at 40: Is age important?

New generations of active and independent women are facing the dilemma of whether they are truly ready to become mothers. Now, building your career can take priority over this decision.

Medical Advisors

Diana de la Montaña, Psychologist

Hernán Cortés Yepes, OB-GYN

Medically speaking, being pregnant at age 20 is different than it is at age 40. In recent decades, however, scientific advances have allowed for pregnancies that occur at a later age to be less risky. This is why pushing back the age of becoming pregnant seems to be somewhat of a social trend, one that more and more people are starting follow.

BETTER PREPARED

Prenatal yoga instructor, doula (someone who provides emotional support to women during pregnancy, birth and after birth) and psychologist Diana de la Montaña affirms that babies who are born to older women are, for the most part, truly wanted. “There are a lot of benefits to being this age, as people have a greater sense of determination and responsibility for taking this next step. At this age, people are more aware of the effects of alcohol, diet and exercise,” our psychologist states.

There is also a greater ability to accept the sacrifices that come with taking on this new role. “For example, I see that a lot of my patients who are older mothers can look back and reflect on all they have achieved. So, it is less difficult for them to give up certain social activities, which leads to fewer cases of postpartum depression,” de la Montaña explains. “This is very important, as now with birth control, future mothers are able to establish a very close connection with their baby, even before they become pregnant, creating a bond that helps them accept their role as mothers without feelings of remorse.”

A study conducted by the University of London found that children born to mothers older than age 35 have a 22% less chance of getting hurt from an accident and almost a third of them are less likely to be admitted to a hospital before age three. The study also found that their language development is higher and that there are less conflicts between parents and children.

The risks of waiting

Another important factor to consider is the biological reality of women at this age. OB-GYN Hernán Cortés Yepes, a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine, explains that as the years pass, the number of mature eggs a woman has reduces, as about 1,000 eggs are lost during each time she menstruates. This reduces the chances of conceiving, but does not make it impossible.

“There are several types of fertility treatments. The mother, her partner and the healthcare professional can decide what type of practice can offer the best chances of becoming pregnant and lead to a healthy pregnancy,” Cortés affirms.

The specialist also believes that at this age, blood pressure can increase, leading to preeclampsia as well as other problems such as gestational diabetes, miscarriages, being overweight, genetic problems and the embryo may have problems growing. It is therefore best to consult with a specialist from the moment that the decision to have a child is made in order to avoid complications.

Planning is key

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, certain techniques can help reduce the chances of complications during pregnancy. These include:

Research the potential risks for having genetic problems (chromosomal abnormalities) and find out what tests can be done during pregnancy to detect them. Consult with a genetic counselor.

Be sure that any preexisting condition (high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disease and obesity) is stable and under control.

By taking prenatal vitamins such as folic acid prior to becoming pregnant, you can help prevent neural tube defects, specifically spina bifida.

 A conscious decision

When a woman decides to become a mother at any age she should be able to examine her motivations for becoming one. This decision shouldn’t be an obligation or be based on social pressure, it should be a sound decision. Psychologist

Diana de la Montaña recommends examining and establishing why one wants to become a mother, as well as what their life purpose is.

 In vitro fertilization, another alternative

This is a type of fertility treatment called assisted reproductive technology. It is based on a process where the egg is mixed with the sperm in order to create an embryo (fertilized egg) that is later introduced into the uterus.

  “Another alternative is to store your own eggs. This can be done at a sperm bank where they are frozen and protected for when you are ready to have children, and if for some reason you cannot conceive, you have the option of using them,” Cortés explains.