Change takes a long time, sometimes a complete generation, to happen and then get established as part of the culture of that society. Every change brings some consequences, positive or negative, which may not be seen immediately, but can be observed over a long time.
When we talk about motherhood, the mean age of a woman to embark on this journey was typically during her 20s, at least during the industrial revolution, and she went on to give birth to almost 10 children. That era set a precedence for ‘the modern family’ where women are now willing to postpone motherhood to her 40s and even 50s, thanks to advanced technology.
The number of women who are choosing to become a mother in their 40s has grown tremendously from 1 in 100 in the 1970s to 1 in 7 today. Some women choose to focus on their careers before they become mothers. Unfortunately, the time to build a successful career and the woman’s biological clock often coincide, which may force many women to sacrifice one of two equally important things. Those who choose to do both have, time and time again, showed that it isn’t impossible, but one cannot ignore the enormous challenges.
Another reason to postpone motherhood could be finding the right partner before starting a family, and that’s not easy by any measure. It takes years to establish a stable relationship. By that time, the odds of becoming a mother without any problems keep decreasing. Becoming a mother in her 40s may not be easy, but it can be much more fulfilling than becoming a mother in her 20s.
15 Chances Of Conception
This one is not unheard of! Most women know that conceiving a baby after 40 is quite difficult. A woman in her early 20s has a 96% chance of conceiving in a year. As a woman ages and reaches her early 40s, the chances of conceiving reduce to only 40-50% in a year. In her late 40s, these chances further decrease to 3-4%.
The reason for this is that the egg supply diminishes as a woman ages. A woman loses around 13,000 eggs in a year. By the age of 37, a woman is left with around 25,000 eggs only. By 43, the egg supply is nearly at its end. There are many women who have successfully given birth in their 40s, however trying to conceive at 40 usually doesn’t happen without heartaches.
It can take numerous visits to fertility clinics to conceive with one’s own eggs. IVF treatments don’t come cheap. They can quickly empty bank accounts for which mom worked hard for.
14 Effect On The Baby
Although many women in their 40s give birth to healthy babies, the odds of giving birth to a child with genetic defects increase. The reason is that there is an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities at 40. Other than chromosomal defects, mother’s health issues such as undiagnosed diabetes and hypertension can also be the reason for birth defects in a baby.
The chances of conceiving a baby with Down Syndrome is 1 in 100, which goes up to 1 in 30 at the age of 45. Stillbirth and babies with low birth weight are also common in the 40s. A study found out that heart defects in babies born to 40-year-old mothers are 4 times higher than babies of younger mothers. However, it needs to be kept in mind that a high number of older women go on to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. They just need to follow an exercise regime and eat healthy.
13 Chances Of Miscarriage
Although every 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, the chances of a miscarriage are extremely high in a woman's 40s. Younger women have a 6% chance of a miscarriage. At the age of 35, this risk increases up to 15 %, and after 40 it is quite high at 23%. The reason behind this is that the eggs are also ageing. Older eggs are likely to develop chromosomal problems which may result in miscarriages.
On average, it takes around 2 years to conceive after trying with the help of fertility experts. According to Julia Johnson, an expert in infertility treatments, the odds of getting pregnant at the age of 41 are higher than the age of 43. A study published in Fertility and Sterility found that after infertility treatments, women at 40 had a 25% chance of getting pregnant with their own eggs. This percentage goes down to 10% at the age of 43 and 1.6% by the age of 44.
12 Experience Of Life
The 40s score here! Life is usually a roller coaster ride for most young couples when they become parents and raise their kids in their prime. It's a time when some couples go through relationship hurdles and struggle to understand each other. Many spouses are starry eyed and have big expectations about their partner and life. Comparison is another common stumbling block for young parents. They are busy comparing their salaries, parenting skills, clothes and cars to other young families.
By the time a couple reaches 40, they find their insecurities settled. They are at peace with their realities and have lived almost half their life. Most couples would have travelled and seen the world. This kind of experience gives them an edge to raise the kids in a better environment. The kids will have parents who have rich knowledge and experience to deal with day to day situations. A child's response to certain situations would be more mature as compared to kids of younger parents.
11 Sense Of Wisdom
Wisdom dawns with age and experience. Mothers at 40 are wiser and have better control over themselves and their lives than women in their 20s. Mothers at 40 are more likely to make better parenting decisions, but it doesn’t mean that mothers in their 20s are not. In comparison, mothers at 40 are much calmer. Also, mothers at 40 understand the importance of nutrition in their life and choose healthier food and lifestyle habits for their children as well. Also, they are more likely to breastfeed.
Forty-year-old mothers are likely to be highly educated, but more than that, they have better intellectual competence. Older mothers are a bit more dedicated and focused on their children than younger ones. The reason could be that they already spent their 20s and 30s focusing on themselves and their career and now they are ready to move on completely to this new stage of their life.
10 Financial Security
When women postpone starting a family, they put all their energies into their jobs. By the time they are 40, they have stable careers. They are more likely to have better savings and retirement funds, along with life insurance. Most people settle their mortgage by that age, too.
However at 40, if a mother needs fertility treatment, then it could deplete the bank accounts. Assisted reproductive technologies come at a huge cost. Those who consciously plan to have kids late should think about the cost of raising the baby and the baby's education. Saving for that before the baby arrives can reduce any financial burden.
Another upside of becoming a mother at 40 is that mothers may not be influenced by attractive or gimmicky parenting products. Young parents have a tendency to splurge a lot of money on unnecessary baby items. They are gullible and very few think of long term financial security.
9 Pregnancy Complications
Although complications occur in any pregnancy, the chances are by far higher in a woman's 40s. As women age, they are likely to develop hypertension and diabetes. These diseases are really difficult to manage during pregnancy and can have an impact on the baby, too. If the mother has hypertension or diabetes prior to pregnancy, she is at a greater risk of developing pre-eclampsia, which mostly results in pre-term babies.
Women at 40 have high chances of giving birth via c-section due to complications in pregnancy, mainly fetal distress and breech baby. Also, the labor tends to be longer due to lesser muscle strength at 40. Even ectopic pregnancy is more common in women who are 40+. In ectopic pregnancies, the embryo gets attached outside of the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tube. There are high chances of developing gestational diabetes, placenta previa, placental abruption and even multiple pregnancies.
8 Stages In A Career
Can women have it all? Women in their 20s will struggle more unless they have well-thought and implemented systems of support established for their households and children. However, it's easier said than done. That is precisely the reason that even today, many women in the 20s with a great start in their career have to sacrifice for their children. They often have to choose between children and careers.
Women in their 40s might have accomplished a great deal in their careers, but they fall behind in the race with their biological clock. They are highly likely to have a difficult time conceiving and having children, so much so that it could be mentally and emotionally exhausting. Yet again, it is not difficult if they plan ahead of time and keep themselves ready for the golden time of their lives Healthy food habits and lifestyles can go a long way to ensure a healthy pregnancy, even after 40.
7 Possibility Of Seeing Grandchildren
Having children early on in life gives an opportunity to see one's children growing up, and making a life and family. Not only does a mother get a chance to see her grandchildren, but she also gets the pleasure of spending time with them, especially when it's time to retire. Usually grandparents enjoy time with their grandchildren as they do not have too many additional responsibilities.
When a mother gives birth to children in her 40s, by the time they are 30 she will be is more likely to be in the twilight of her life. If children also follow the example of mother to have children late in life then the mother may not see her grandchildren. If the mother lives on to see grandchildren, then she may not long enough to see them grow up. The increasing number of mothers giving birth in their 40s may also puts the future of many children at risk considering that unhealthy lifestyle and addiction to phones is not making anyone healthier.
6 Physical Fitness
Babies and toddlers usually keep their parents on their toes. To spend time with a young child, parents need to be physically and mentally energetic. Most young parents have high energy levels and don't usually have any diseases that strike in middle age. So they can easily play soccer, swim and run around all day long. At the same time, at a young age, parents are more likely to have bad habits such smoking and alcohol consumption, which may exhaust them and affect their energy levels.
In their 40s, parents have less likelihood of being smokers. Older mothers tend to exercise more often and eat a healthier diet, but still they may not be able to match the energy of a younger parent at times. The stamina to endure sleepless nights, bending and lifting over and over is far less in older age. However, there could be exceptions as Natalie, a mother at 46, that says getting pregnant in her 40s slowed down her aging process.
5 Family Size
Starting to procreate young has a definite advantage if you want a big family. Many women can easily have 4 or 5 kids without any complications, if they start early. Also, as older children grow up, they help in raising the younger ones and also help in household chores. They are more likely to have great bonding relationships. A big family gives a child the chance to develop good social skills and a sense of community responsibility.
At 40, if parents want a big family, they need to go through many road blocks and may not fulfil their dream. With every passing year after 43, fertility drops significantly and some mothers have to depend on donor eggs for conceiving. This could be a big ordeal and emotionally exhausting. Besides, mothers may not like to go through another pregnancy at 40 since it can become more physically strenuous.
4 Fitting In With Mommy Groups
A recent study found that a majority of women in the US become first time mothers at the age of 27. This makes a 40-year-old stand out in a group of mothers in post-natal classes, volunteering classes and school mothers' groups. There will be many times when an older mother will feel like an alien in the group. Although the number of women giving birth in their 40s is increasing, it still may difficult to find a like-minded group with similar struggles.
Besides, an older mother may have to deal with criticism or unwanted comments from younger mothers. She may not like others assuming she's the grandmother of the child. She may even need to prepare herself with a response to such comments beforehand. It may not just sound very awkward, embarrassing and insulting for the mother, but even the child may feel bad about it. The child also needs to be prepared well in advance to face this prejudice and make him or her aware of the positives to have an older mum.
3 Support Network
Many mothers, irrespective of age, need some kind of support from friends and family to raise their children. It has many benefits for the children as well as parents. While children get to interact with other people and develop social skills, mothers also get some reprieve from the endless juggernaut of motherhood. Early motherhood has an advantage of having the support of the child’s grandparents for helping out during the initial and crucial 5 years.
However, many older mothers are usually caught in a double whammy. They do not just need to provide care to their babies, but they may also need to take care of their own parents in their old age. Instead of finding support for child-care they may need to extend support to aging parents. That is why older mums are also sometimes called the sandwich generation. Friends of older parents usually develop different interests so they are less likely to support the new mother.
2 Older Mums Live Longer
In a study conducted by the University of Utah in 2009, it was found that older mums who conceived naturally were likely to live longer. Their chances of dying during their 50s are 14-17% less than younger mums. The study did not establish the factors responsible for living longer. However, they say that it can be linked to social and environmental factors. It may also be due to genetic reasons as older mums are most likely born of older mothers themselves.
Another factor could be that older mothers choose a lifestyle that gives them much needed energy and stamina to bring up the child. Since the mother may not have as big of a support network, she may be doing it single-handedly. Also, the desire to see the kids grow up makes them more conscious of their own health, too. It's worth mentioning that a toddler in a house can add years to the life of a care-provider with their sheer innocence and happy attitude.
1 Menopause And Motherhood At Once
Motherhood in a woman's 40s may be becoming more popular year by year. The difficulty in conceiving is a commonly known fact, however late motherhood has another downside. First time mothers at 40 are also at the threshold of perimenopause. Perimenopause starts before a woman gets hit by menopause while she is still getting regular periods. There is an extreme fluctuation of hormones in the perimenopausal stage.
Being a mother at 40 is itself a big deal as the mother needs a lot of physical strength to care for the baby. Perimenopause can make her all the more drained and emotionally erratic. Women seem have no control over their actions and reactions when they enter this stage. An older mother may be much wiser, but a mother with perimenopause may be struggling much more than a mom who had her child in her 20s or 30s. It's an age where a woman’s body and her child both test her limits.