There are definitely benefits to postponing motherhood. You will be more financially secure than 20 year old parents. There is research to suggest the child will do well also. Studies have shown that children of older parents tend to do well in school and are more likely to go on to graduate college.
There are risks to pregnancy after 40. At this age, you are in the category that obstetricians call “advanced maternal age.” Not flattering in the least, but there are risks associated with pregnancy after age 40 that your doctor will be concerned with.
One of the most well known risks is a higher chance of the baby having chromosomal abnormalities. While the babies of older mothers are at risk for several chromosomal disorders, Down’s Syndrome is the most common. The statistics at age 25 are 1 in 250. At 45, the risk of Down’s Syndrome is 1 in 30.
The risk of miscarriage and still birth increase after 40 too. Women in their 20s have a miscarriage rate of about 10%. Women in their early 40s have a miscarriage rate of 50%. The risk of still birth is higher as well. The March of Dimes reports that mothers over the age of 40 are twice as likely to have a pregnancy end in still birth than mothers in their 20s.
The risk of needing a c section is higher as well. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show that 47% of first time mothers forty and older end up delivering their babies by c section. For the general population, the c section rate is currently hovering around 30%.
Women over the age of 40 are more likely to have complications during the pregnancy. They are at a greater risk for both pre eclampsia and gestational diabetes. These are complications that can be serious for both the mother and baby.
The news isn’t all bad. Even with the increased risks, you are more likely to end up with a healthy baby than not. Your doctor will most likely recommend more testing and monitor your progress closely to increase the chances of a good outcome.