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Pregnancy at 40

Pregnancy at 40

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The majority of women who get pregnant after 40 have healthy pregnancies, and a lot of this is due to the rapid advances that medicine has made in the past few years. It's common for women well into their thirties and forties to be having their first baby. Part of this is due to the number of women who are putting pregnancy on hold to pursue careers or finish education. Many older couples are more financially stable and can afford to take time off from their daily job, or have accomplished their goals and are ready to start a family.

There are some health risks you should be aware of if you're planning a pregnancy over 40. There is a 25% risk of miscarriage in women over 40, and the risk of having to undergo a Cesarean delivery is increased. If you're over 40, your risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure is higher, so continuous prenatal monitoring is important.

Prenatal genetic testing is advised in pregnant women over 35. The use of an amniocentesis, where a needle is inserted into the amniotic fluid to obtain a sample, is used. This test can detect abnormalities such as Downs Syndrome, Huntington's Disease, and spina bifida. Your risk of having a baby with Downs Syndrome increases up to one in 100 after age 40. Doctors believe it might be because of the number of x-rays and infections an older woman has had, which affects her eggs.

If your amniocentesis shows an abnormality, there is no telling how serious it is until the baby is born. You may face a difficult decision ahead: do you terminate the pregnancy or accept whatever happens? Only you can make that decision, and your doctor can help you make an informed choice. Also, the amniocentesis itself carries a small risk of miscarriage.

Some women in their forties have trouble getting pregnant, so if you have been trying to conceive for six months with no luck, you should see a fertility specialist. The use of the fertility drugs prescribed by doctors results in more multiple births, so if you're over 40 and taking fertility drugs be prepared for the possibility of twins or even triplets!

Emotionally, many women over 40 feel that they are at a solid, stable place in their life. They may already have other children, or this may be a first pregnancy. With the high incidence of divorce and remarriage, many women have children at a much later age than in the past, and it's not uncommon to hear of blended families with older stepchildren, children in college, and one or two little ones at home.

Whatever your decision, know that it is possible to have a healthy, happy baby after 40. Just be aware of the possible complications and risks so that you can make the best choice possible!

 


 
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