Pregnancy in Your 40s
Amy Scherber, 44
"I spent most of my 30s getting a successful business off the ground and traveling. I didn't get married until I was 42. I guess I always thought I'd have a baby someday, but I never worried about it. When we found out I was pregnant, my husband, Troy, and I were thrilled. I think my parents were even more excited, since they had pretty much given up on me! At my age, I think I have lots of wisdom and stability to offer my baby, so for me it's the perfect time to become a mom. I feel really good, and my doctor says the baby is doing great."
Your Body Now:
Having a baby in your 40s is common these days, and the majority of older mothers have totally normal pregnancies. Still, the risk of complications rises after age 40.
- If you're having multiples, there's an increased chance of delivering preterm or low-birth-weight babies.
- Your risk of chromosomal abnormalities continues to go up. (At 40, your chance of having a baby with Down syndrome is 1 in 106).
- The good news? If you're physically fit, eat well, and don't have preexisting health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension, your overall risk of other pregnancy complications isn't markedly higher than that of a woman in her 20s or 30s.
Your Mind Now:
You're definitely prepared to have a baby at this point in your life, particularly if you married late or if you've gone through years of fertility treatments. Here are some things you can expect.
- The self-confidence and perspective you've picked up in your life may make you more patient in dealing with a demanding newborn.
- You might have higher expectations of yourself than someone in her 20s or 30s since you've waited so long and perhaps invested so much to get pregnant. Remind yourself that you don't have to be a perfect mother.
- It's likely you won't have as many friends with small children at this stage, so don't hesitate to make friends with younger moms. "Motherhood is the great unifier," Dr. Howard says. "When you're with your baby in the park, age issues sort of melt away because babies are the focus."
Copyright? 2005. Reprinted with permission from the January 2005 issue of Parents magazine.