16.12.2013

Having your first baby in your 40s

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Chromosomal abnormalities in your eggs can raise the risk of miscarriage and birth defects. In your early forties you have about a one in five to one in 10 chance of a live birth per treatment cycle (HFEA 2011, NCCWCH 2013).
You may wish to explore the idea of using donor eggs or frozen embryos to try to conceive, as it will increase your chances of having a baby (Klipstein et al 2005, Serour et al 2010, Utting and Bewley 2011).
The risk of miscarriage and chromosomal problems is consistent with the age of your egg donor, who will be in her 20s or 30s.
Probably the greatest advantage of waiting to have children in your 40s is that you are emotionally and financially ready for them. If you've been with your partner for a while you will have had the chance to get to know each other in all sorts of circumstances. Your income is likely to be higher, as you will have had time to establish yourself in your career. By the time you reach your 40s, you may have a sense that you've been there, done that. As you approach the menopause, your hormones work harder to release an egg from your ovaries. If you have assisted conception, the follicle-stimulating hormones you'll be given also increase your chances of conceiving more than one baby (Utting and Bewley 2011). If you do conceive, you are more likely to need extra care during your pregnancy (Franz and Husslein 2010, Montan 2007, Utting and Bewley 2011). Age aside, there are steps you can take to give yourself the best chance for a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby. If you are in your 40s, and have been having unprotected sex two to three times a week for three months, without getting pregnant, see your GP. Discover how to get a fertility test, find out the best time to have baby-making sex, or talk to others who are hoping to conceive in the Actively trying group of our friendly community.
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My baby is now 5 months old, and I’ve had plenty of time to contemplate the two very different pregnancies.


Many 40-plus women do conceive, although there's no denying that your odds of getting pregnant are a lot lower than just a few years ago.
At 40, your chance of conceiving is about 20 per cent (based on the average annual rate of pregnancy per cycle), falling to less than five per cent by the mid-40s (NCCWCH 2013:65). As early as 15 years before you go through menopause, the number of your eggs begins to decline.
Your life experience means you'll feel pretty confident about your approach to child-rearing (Hansen and Joshi 2008). You'll be less concerned with your own needs, and will be happy instead to focus on your child. From your mid-40s, if you conceive naturally, you have a one in two chance of having twins (NHS Choices 2010a, Utting and Bewley 2011). Your age will be factored in to the result to give you a risk of your baby having a problem. But keep in mind that there are plenty of women in their 40s who have trouble-free pregnancies and perfectly healthy babies. Most specialists start with blood tests and investigations to check your fallopian tubes or your partner's sperm.
I had divorced my first husband and remarried, but since I was 42 years old, babies were (once again) definitely not on my mind. I was still so fresh-eyed, so inexperienced, that my baby’s birth brought about a kaleidoscopic change in my life.
True, there are struggles associated with having kids younger, but in this world, I have a feeling there would be no matter how old you are. With my first child 2 years ago, the cost out of pocket would have been $20,000 for JUST my care. By your 40s, the eggs that your ovaries release each month are more likely to have structural problems (chromosomal abnormalities). From 43 to 44 onwards, your chances of success using your own eggs really are minimal, because conception rates per cycle of IVF are so low. The two eggs can be fertilised and implant in your uterus, resulting in non-identical twins.
But what it means is you'll get the care you need to ensure you and your unborn baby stay as well as possible.
I was shocked once more when the stick turned pink, but was considerably more sanguine about it because I had the resources and knowledge that I just didn’t have in the first blush of adulthood.


Even if the wee one is a surprise, you’re probably making much more money than you were in your 20s, which opens up all kinds of doors.
By the time you’re in your 40s, you probably have some leverage you can use for extra maternity leave. Basically, this means you know not to gain a tremendous amount of weight because losing excess baby weight in your 20s is a breeze compared to your 40s. With my first, I weighed 102 pounds on the day I found out I was pregnant and 186 on the day I gave birth.
The moment she was put in my arms, my heart blew open like a canyon, let the whole world in, and made the second baby possible.
I was in extremely good shape back then, and after I had my baby, it bounced right back to where it was before.
I was never one of those girls who loved their baby dolls and couldn’t wait to have a baby of their own. He wanted to stay at home for six weeks to be with the new baby, and though his company only allowed two weeks paternity leave, he was able to get what he wanted by throwing down the seniority card. He has been a lawyer with the same firm for 19 years, and he knows where the bodies are buried. I was totally unprepared for a baby, but as soon as I knew she was there, growing inside me, I wanted her more than anything. The benefit of that confidence is that there is more time to spend loving my baby and my husband, and just enjoying the view from where I am now.
Instead, you screech through the door late in the morning with baby sick on your skirt and spend the day checking up on your childminder, counting down the minutes until you can be reunited with your precious one. In your 20s, you’re still building your reputation, and it is much more difficult to demand anything at all.
But I soon realised that, in the middle of the night, it's best to deliver the bottle without making eye contact if you want a quick retreat to your quilt.
Plus, as a medic I know the risks of pregnancy and childbirth in your 40s are far greater for both you and your baby.



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