There are many reasons women delay having children. For some, career plans, such as those involving many years of schooling, or require extensive travel or long hours at the office, just got in the way of having a family. For others, perhaps they had not found the right life partner. In addition, some younger women just don’t want children at that time in their lives, but now that they are in their forties, they are reconsidering their options, especially with modern fertility techniques at their disposal. Whatever your reason for the delay, there are both pros and cons of having a baby at 45 and we’ll look at both sides of the equation, so you can make the decision that’s best for you.
Pros of Having a Baby at 45
First, let’s examine the pros of having a baby at 45, as there are many. Because many women’s families, and even friends, often express concerns or even outright disapproval over a later-life baby, let’s look at some of the very real advantages that come with having a baby in your 40s and beyond.
You Are More Mature Emotionally
One of the most obvious advantages of having a baby at 45, is that you are apt to be emotionally mature. In your 40s, you’ve had a chance to experience a lot of life, with all of its ups and downs, joys, and sorrows. This means you are also likely to be better educated than younger mothers and will also be much more likely to make wise parenting decisions based on your maturity and life experience. This increased emotional maturity is a distinct advantage that should not be discounted.
You Are More Likely To Be Financially Stable
By this point in your life, you, or perhaps your partner as well, are probably firmly settled in your chosen career. You are very likely to be financially stable and to own a home. This stability takes away one of the major stressors many younger women face when having a family. This also means you are likely to be able to afford more valuable educational and life experiences for your child that perhaps you may not have been able to provide when you were younger.
Your Relationship With Your Partner Has Likely Been Tested
If you are in a relationship with someone, your relationship has probably had time to mature and to season, and also has likely weathered its own ups and downs. Confidence in your relationship with your spouse or significant other is a great foundation on which to build a family. Welcoming a child into a stable, mature, and loving relationship is one of the greatest gifts you can give to a child.
You May Get a Boost in Brain Power
Getting a boost in brain power is perhaps the most surprising benefit to having a baby at 45! One research study looking at women who had babies later in life showed a definite link between brain power and having a baby at a later age. These brain benefits include increased verbal memory, better cognition, and a boost in problem solving skills. This brain boost will benefit you as well as your baby.
Advantages of Having a Baby in Your 40
Contrary to what many people commonly assume, there are many advantages of having a baby in your 40s. Emotional maturity and financial stability are two of the greatest advantages for women who choose to have a baby in their 40s. Plus, spouse or partner relationships are likely to be stable as well. In addition, there is the surprising boost in brain power that can come from becoming a mother later in life!
Cons of Having a Baby at 45
Now let’s look at the downside of having a baby at 45, or really anytime in your 40s or beyond. If you are already thinking about this possibility, your first impulse may be to avoid considering these, but it’s really important that you take all the information about later life pregnancy into consideration, both positive and negative, so you can make the best decision for you and for your family. You owe it to yourself to look carefully at all the possible ramifications of your decision.
Difficult to Get Pregnant Without Reproductive Assistance
Many women are just not well informed about the drastic decline in fertility as they age, and simply do not realize that their eggs are likely to be no longer viable. This is not something that is routinely talked about, and with the positive publicity around some older “celebrity” moms having babies, many women get lulled into a false sense of security that they can safely put off pregnancy till their forties. The reality is that the prime reproductive years for women are the late teens to late twenties, with fertility beginning to decline by age 30. Once a woman reaches age 45, her ability to conceive has declined so dramatically, that she is extremely unlikely to become pregnant naturally, without the use of donor eggs from a much younger woman
Not as Much Energy as When You Were Younger
Ask any mom of young children how much energy it takes to have a baby and take care of that infant, and she’s likely to tell you that she’s tired all the time and that she never seems to have any time for herself anymore. This is likely to be true, no matter the age of the mother. But it’s especially true for older moms, who simply do not have the physical energy and stamina they did when they were in their twenties or thirties, no matter how good their physical condition. You’ll also likely be the oldest mom in your child’s playgroup, and get used to being mistaken for your child’s grandmother!
Pregnancy Risks in Advanced Maternal Age
There are also very real medical risks of pregnancy in advanced maternal age. Your chance of miscarriage is increased, along with an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and having a child that is preterm. You are also at risk for conceiving a child who has a chromosomal abnormality, such as Down’s syndrome. Of course, with excellent prenatal care, these risks can certainly be minimized, but they need to be considered. If you use reproductive assistance to conceive, the embryo can be tested at a very, very early stage of development to rule out most chromosomal abnormalities.
Long Term Concerns For Your Child
Finally, there are the long term concerns that surface when you decide to have a baby in your forties. If you have a baby when you are 40, when that child has her 30th birthday, you will be seventy. If you are 45, when she turns 30, you will be seventy-five! Of course, none of us live forever, but do consider that you may not be around for as long as your child needs you.
Disadvantages of Having a Baby in your 40s
As you can see, there are some disadvantages to having a baby in your 40s and these need to be taken very seriously when making your decision to do so. The main disadvantages of a later life pregnancy are that it’s nearly impossible to get pregnant naturally once you reach the age of 45, the demands on your energy will be intense, you will face real physical risks, and of course, there are the emotional concerns that come with realizing how old you will be when your child reaches her 30th birthday.
Should I Have a Baby at 45?
Answering the question for yourself of should I have a baby at 45 is emotionally complicated. This is a deeply personal decision, and no one but you can make it. But we can tell you this: here at Santa Monica Fertility, we have assisted many women in having a baby who were in an advanced maternal age. We have yet to see intended parents who went through the process of having a baby and then wished they had not. Invariably, there is nothing but happiness, joy and love once that baby joins the family, regardless of the age of the mother. You can read about some of the happy experiences our clients have had with our services here.
For more information on getting pregnant in your 40s and 50s, please see this page. For more information on using donor eggs to get pregnant and have a baby, go here.