Women are giving birth to their babies later and later, and pregnancies after 40 are becoming more common. What are the impacts of such a phenomenon?
Fertility at 40… the biological clock ticking
For several years now, we have noticed a decline in fertility in both women and men, in all age groups. Becoming pregnant is therefore not so easy for a growing number of couples. To this, it should be added that fertility decreases with age. In women, it is at its maximum around the age of 20 and begins to decrease around the age of 30. From the age of 35, fertility decreases drastically from year to year. Thus, at each cycle, if a 25-year-old woman has a 1 in 4 chance of conceiving a child, the odds drop to 1 in 8 at age 35 and only 1 in 12 after age 40. As for the man, although he is potentially fertile all his life, he is still less and less so with the years.
So the greatest danger of attempting a late pregnancy is… not being able to conceive! As seen above, fertility being in free fall at age 40, it is estimated that 35% of women will actually succeed in becoming mothers at this age. Considering this fact, it is better to go about it a fewyears earlier, if possible. However, if you are trying to conceive at this age, it is important to put the odds on your side to conceive as soon as possible. First of all, it is important to pay attention to your hygiene of life. Diet, physical exercise, exposure to pollution, fatigue, smoking, alcohol consumption and others are factors that significantly influence fertility and fetal he alth.
Secondly, it is essential to quickly perform the sympto-thermal test in order to identify the days of maximum fertility. The sympto-thermal test consists of graphing your basal temperature, the characteristics of the cervical mucus and the cervix in order to target the moment of ovulation and, by extension, the potentially fertile days. The sympto-thermal test also helps to identify possible fertility problems. So, if after three (3) months of trying you are still not pregnant, your charts will be invaluable to your doctor and speed up the process of getting treatment if needed.
This decrease in fertility brings many couples wishing to conceive to assisted reproduction clinics. These interventions are unfortunately expensive, ethically dubious and are far from necessarily leading to a full-term pregnancy. The failures are indeed numerous and painful for the couples who see their dream fly away. However, many couples do manage to conceive, naturally.or with the help of technology.
Are there any advantages to having a child after 40?
Certainly! Although this is all relative, couples are generally more stable around this age, in addition to enjoying a higher socio-economic status. There is therefore less stress associated with the purchase of a first home or the precariousness of a job, for example. Mothers are also often wiser, that is to say, they pay more attention to their diet and their lifestyle in general. They are also more fulfilled and more assertive, which allows them to know what they want in terms of pregnancy monitoring and childbirth. Future parents are also generally better informed and have had the opportunity to see babies around them and thus have more realistic expectations.
For many couples, these late pregnancies happen like a miracle and are therefore greatly appreciated. So the baby often arrives in a context where the parents are more than ready to welcome him. And another small advantage, pregnancy stretch marks are extremely rare at this age…
But not everything is rosy…
It is worth mentioning that the risk of multiple pregnancy increases with age. This is partly explained by the fact that women have more recourse to ovarian stimulation or in vitro fertilization. But even for natural conceptions, this risk is two (2) times higher! Although the announcement of a multiple pregnancy is a source of joy formany couples, the fact remains that a twin pregnancy carries many more risks at all levels, such as premature birth or cesarean section.
Also, another important fact, the risk of miscarriage increases with age. Between 35 and 39, this risk is 18%, compared to 34% at 40, and 53% at 45! 40-year-old women are often much more tired and have more pregnancy discomforts such as back pain, insomnia or water retention. They also have more he alth problems such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, placental abruptions or fibroids.
And how not to talk about the risk of trisomy 21? As everyone knows, the risk of the baby having this form of trisomy increases with age, being 1 in 1250 births at 25 years old, 1 in 110 at 40 years old and 1 in 30 at 45 years old. But this is also true for other congenital anomalies and fetal malformations. This reality therefore brings its share of screening tests and sometimes heartbreaking decisions.
However, the most marked differences appear at the time of delivery. Indeed, the risks of complications of all kinds also increase: caesareans, breech presentation of the baby, postpartum hemorrhage, use of syntocinon (oxytocin), etc. In the same vein, the risks for the baby are also increased. Here we are talking about prematurity, low birth weight babies and a greater risk of perinatal death.
All this data is certainly disturbing,but it is necessary to relativize. Multiple complications remain rare and good monitoring of pregnancy and especially a he althy lifestyle before conception and during pregnancy help to reduce these risks. Above all, the joys of being a parent certainly outweigh the difficulties!