After 40 years:
Older but also wiser
There is no doubt: from a medical point of view, it is the most difficult time for a future pregnancy. Until now, you have lost out of quality ovules, which makes conception more cumbersome than ever. Only those ovules remain that take longer to respond to the “indications” of the body to be released and work less well during fertilization. This increases the risk of chromosomal abnormalities and spontaneous abortion.
Meanwhile, your menstrual cycles are becoming more irregular before menopause, which compromises fertility. In other words, women that are part of this age group and that are aware of the importance of their health do not necessarily think of prenatal care, assuming that the absence of menstruation, which signals a pregnancy, is a first sign of menopause.
Interestingly, although at this age it is harder to become pregnant, it is the age at which you have a high chance of having a multiple pregnancy, which in itself is a risk factor. Changes in hormonal levels during menopause may affect ovulation as a natural drug for fertility: instead of stimulating the release of a single egg, as normal, multiple ovulation may occur.
Standard blood analysis that estimates chromosomal defects (such as Down Syndrome) is commonly considered a waste of time and money. Screening will invariably show the risk, which is now accelerating, with a ratio of 1 to 86 at the age of 40 and 1 to 21 at the age of 45. Women over 40 years of age, that opt for testing, go straight to the definitive tests – the amniotic or corial villus sample, which involves placental tissue collection and has an abortion risk of about 1%.
Pregnancy may aggravate chronic suffering as well as signs of aging, such as stiff and painful joints, varicose veins. Everything is amplified during pregnancy. Moreover, slower metabolism can have profound effects: even if you eat the same way, you can gain twice as much weight as you did in previous pregnancy / previous pregnancies.
Physicians may hurry to pinpoint the disadvantages of a late pregnancy, but a list of advantages balances the scale. You have a more stable financial situation, which allows you to focus more on maternity. Moreover, your life experience has made you more patient and flexible. The first maternity period may seriously change your well established routine for a long time, but a 40-year-old woman knows more about the ups and downs of life and can cope better.
Additionally, you are certainly already professionally fulfilled, and now you are more tempted to stay home or more confident about how you will combine your professional career with maternity. You are more skilled and you are not afraid to negotiate your terms of employment. Older mothers will demand a more family-friendly work place, flexible time, sharing the workload, and the possibility to work remotely.
This self-esteem is also visible in the relationship with your doctor, to whom you are more open discuss your preferences about the method of delivery. Women who are slightly older tend to be more active in regards to the pregnancy and overall health. When it comes to visiting to the obstetrician, they can call into question many things that are considered standard in medical practice and which aim laboratory tests, diabetes tests and ultrasounds.
Last but not least, women over the age of 40 have learned over the years to find tricks that they have used in the past, when they became mothers for the second time. For example, how to make time for afternoon tea easier and how to find a free weekday to leave the baby with another family member. They know now that it is important to make time for them as well, knowing that this helps them become better mothers.
Always seek medical advice, in case you have any questions or concerns about your health or other people’s health!