Maybe you wanted to wait until you were more financially or emotionally ready or perhaps life simply got in the way, but now you’re in your 40s and thinking about having a baby. You’re among a growing group of women having babies later in life.
Because having a baby after 40 comes with unique challenges, board-certified OB/GYN Kelly Morales, MD, offers specialized care for mature moms-to-be at her private practice in San Antonio, Texas.
Take a moment to learn more about planning for pregnancy after 40 and how you can take steps to ensure your health and the health of your baby.
One of the biggest concerns women over 40 have when planning pregnancy is conceiving. Around age 30, fertility naturally declines. For example, while women in their 20s generally have a 25% chance of conceiving every cycle, that drops to 5% for women in their 40s.
It’s possible to conceive after 40 — you just have to plan a little more than women in their 20s. Address any underlying conditions that might affect your fertility before you try to conceive, including:
Focus on healthy eating, getting plenty of exercise, and practicing good sleep hygiene to help improve your chances of conception. Start taking a prenatal vitamin as soon as possible — before conception if possible — to give your baby the best start possible.
About half of women 40 or older trying to conceive seek help from fertility treatments. As you get older, the supply and quality of your eggs diminishes, making it more challenging to conceive.
Talk with Dr. Morales for personalized recommendations, but generally, if you haven’t conceived after six months of trying, it’s time to talk to a fertility specialist. Therapies vary based on your needs and may include anything from changing the timing of intercourse to oral medications or in vitro fertilization (IVF).
In addition to getting pregnant, women over 40 worry about staying pregnant after conceiving — and for good reasons. The miscarriage rate for women over 40 is about 40%. Yet it is possible to have a healthy baby after 40.
Taking the healthy preconception steps above and addressing any underlying health issues helps reduce your risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, as does working with a provider who specializes in high-risk obstetrics, like Dr. Morales.
Pregnant women of all ages experience changes in their bodies when expecting. But if you’re over 40, pregnancy is more physically challenging.
By keeping up your overall fitness level before and during pregnancy, you can better combat the aches, pains, and fatigue associated with pregnancy. You’ll also be better prepared for the physical strain of labor and birth.
Focus on low-impact activities, like walking, yoga, and swimming, to help boost your fitness. Or explore prenatal classes to ensure a safe experience. If you’re not sure what to do, Dr. Morales can provide personalized fitness recommendations.
Because of shifting hormones, expect some significant emotional challenges during pregnancy, no matter your age. The good news is that as a more mature woman, you’re likely able to cope with these mood swings more effectively.
You’ll also need to prepare for life with a new baby and any hormonal changes after delivery. Talk to Dr. Morales about what you can expect and ask for personalized recommendations to help you recognize and prepare for any emotional challenges.
Having a baby after 40 comes with higher risks of potentially dangerous complications for you and/or your baby. The best way to deal with these risks is to understand them so you can prepare.
In addition to a higher C-section rate, some of the most common pregnancy complications women over 40 face include:
As an expert in high-risk obstetrics, Dr. Morales helps you understand your risk factors and may recommend additional tests to monitor your health and the health of your baby, such as additional ultrasounds, amniocentesis, cordocentesis, and genetic testing.
For personalized help planning for pregnancy after 40, schedule an appointment with Dr. Morales in San Antonio, Texas.