The good, the bad, and everything in between.
If you’re someone who wants children, it’s interesting to think about what that experience might look like at different stages in your life. On average, most people have babies in their late 20s and early 30s, but it’s also true that more people are having babies later in life than ever before. There are so many different factors to consider when it comes to the timing of having a baby. And though people being pregnant in their 40s is less likely than in their 20s or 30s, many people decide that's the right time for them. As with getting pregnant at any age, there are definitely pros and cons of having a baby in your 40s that are worth taking note of.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the fertility rate of U.S. mothers ages 40-44 in 2019 was about 13%, which is a 132% change from rates in 1990. This jump — also shown in mothers ages 35-39 — indicates that older women are having babies more often than in previous decades. As more and more parents decide to wait until their 40s to start their families ,it’s helpful to hear some perspectives on what that particular experience is like.
As an "older" pregnant person and parent. you have the added benefit of knowing more about yourself and being able to have a couple of decades of adulthood under your proverbial belt before being responsible for raising other humans. Sure, sometimes it feels odd to be the oldest parent in the pick-up line at school and, yes, your energy reserve is lacking the older you get. But deciding if and when to have a child is a pretty monumental decision, and what works for one person or family won't always work for another.
With that in mind, here's what having a baby in your 40s was like for seven moms who have been there and done that.
"My one and only was born two months before I turned 42. The pregnancy was surprisingly easy, considering how big a deal people make about 'advanced maternal age.'
I'm glad I lived a lot before having a child, so I don't feel like I missed anything, and have perspective and experience I can share with my child."
"I was very 'old' for my conservative midwestern state and family (although in my larger city, things are changing a bit).
I honestly don't think my pregnancy or childbirth experiences were that different, medically, than others'. While my records officially showed me as of 'advanced maternal age' (or worse, 'geriatric pregnancy'), my treatment wasn't much different. I was monitored closely for fetal development and fluid level, but that was it. I had one pesky OB/GYN who gave me a harsh 'your baby could die [if you don't have enough ultrasounds]' during a routine ultrasound, during which everything looked perfectly healthy, but other than that my care was totally fine.
I think parenting has been a bit harder, because I was set in my ways and had experienced lots of freedom before having kids. Now, I'm at the whim of someone else all day every day. Although I do feel I am slightly wiser than I was 15 years ago, so maybe that is a benefit. Overall, I think my experience has been a great one and I hope that folks who are considering starting a family when they're older do allow themselves that option. Don't let society tell you the timeline you need to have."
"I had my oldest child at age 42, and twins four days before my 46th birthday. Sometimes, I feel a little awkward because some of the moms of kids my kids' ages are 15 years younger than me. But for the most part that hasn’t been an issue. I’ve been able to make mom friends online.
I’m glad I waited because I was able to do a lot of cool things before having kids. For example, I traveled and had different kinds of jobs. So, I’ll never look back and feel like I didn’t get to do fun things in my 20s. At the same time, it does make me a little sad that I probably won’t get the opportunity to meet my great grandchildren."
"I was 40 when I had my third baby (36 and 38 with the other two). I am sure there are advantages to having babies when you are younger, but I have liked being an older mom. I already did a lot of things I wanted to. I traveled, established a career, and enjoyed big adventures. My husband (six years older than me) and I were ready for kids, too. We had more savings, more patience, and more work flexibility than when we were younger.
I also had more experience with kids. I was a nanny, and my friends and family had kids. So, I was able to learn a lot and be the 'fun aunt' before I had my own children. The downsides? We are older and have less energy. I worry we won't be around when our kids are our age. But, then again, we very well may be."
"I had my second child at 41. I was high-risk and went to so many doctor appointments. My first was premature so we were very careful. I had to switch perinatologists because the first one scolded me for getting pregnant 'at your age.'
I now have a healthy 7-year-old sassy girl, but man am I tired. My mother was a grandmother at this age. Also, because I am almost always the oldest mom at the playgroup, the younger moms think I'm like Yoda and have some special wisdom to impart. Seriously, I'm just trying to stay awake longer than the kids."
“I'm a mom over 40 with preschoolers. I had my daughter at 40 and my son 17 months later. I was 39 when I got married […] and I hadn't met a person I wanted to have babies with or get married to prior to that. I'm fully, fully aware that we got very lucky. And we're not the only ones who are going to get that lucky having kids at the age that we did. We had no problems getting pregnant. I had healthy pregnancies, we had healthy babies.
My OB/GYN had seen me through my years of being single and my desire to have a family, and [it] even got to a point where we talked about other options together. She's just amazing [and] super supportive. It was probably not the same way every doctor [would] had felt, but my personal experience was great. And I would say if you're not getting that experience, you should find somebody who supports you. Hopefully there are other obstetricians in your area that you could find somebody that would be able to support you because it's not so unusual to be in your 40s and having a baby. Find a doctor that supports you and you'll get the care you deserve.”
When it comes to having a baby, there is no one specific timeline that fits everyone. Despite the fertility rates being generally lower, many parents actually do have children in their 40s. And if you have any questions about having a baby in your 40s and whether that is possible or right for you, consult your medical provider.
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