The age at which women are mothers is increasingly delayed. In Spain, the average is over 31 years old according to the National Institute of Statistics. In fact, in Spain alone, more than 12,000 annual births are to mothers over 40 years of age. This figure places our country among those with the highest number of “ elderly mothers” in Europe. The socioeconomic situation and the current lifestyle contribute to increase this figure. Advances in assisted reproductive techniques have also helped.
With or without assisted reproduction, many are the ‘celebrities’ who have been mothers past 40. The best known faces of this new social reality are Marcia Cross , Madonna , Kim Basinger and Susan Sarandon among others. At the national level, Ana Rosa Quintana and Rosario Flores are two clear examples of mothers who gave birth after four decades of life.
However, experts place between 20 and 30 years the ideal age to have children since from 35 the fertility is reduced by half . As age advances, the chances of conceiving a child are drastically reduced. Studies from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine state that after age 40 the chances of achieving a pregnancy in a single ovulation cycle are reduced to 5%.
The risks to both the baby and the mother also grow over the years. But the truth is that health advances greatly facilitate the viability and success of these pregnancies. In addition, recent studies highlight that mature pregnancies also have a long list of benefits.
ADVANTAGES OF BEING A MOTHER AT 40
The maturity of 40-year-old women represents a clear advantage over 20-year-old girls who decide to be mothers. The emotional economic stability, professional and usually higher among older mothers. They are mothers because they have decided to do so. The statistic also reflects that women who start out as older mothers tend to have a higher level of training .
The older, the more prepared to breastfeed are mothers. Also, decisions about feeding children tend to be more successful, according to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Strangely enough, being an “elderly mother” also has financial benefits . A study carried out in the United Kingdom indicates that working women save about $ 21,000 for each year that they delay the decision to have children. In addition, being a mother after 40 lengthens life . This is indicated by a study from Harvard University that indicates that women who have children at an older age live longer.
POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION IS LESS COMMON IN MATURE MOTHERS
The worries come when these mothers realize that they may not know their grandchildren and may not enjoy the adult life of their children. It is a recurring fear among older mothers, despite the fact that current female life expectancy in Spain exceeds 80 years. In the United States there are support groups created specifically to help these women.
DISADVANTAGES OF BEING A MOTHER AT 40
Faced with the listed advantages, there is a long list of disadvantages -both for the mother and the baby- that must be taken into consideration. First of all, the chances of getting pregnant decrease by leaps and bounds as a woman ages. The quantity and quality of the eggs begin to decline 15 years before menopause.
A study published by the journal ‘Fertility and Sterility’ indicates that 40-year-old women treated for infertility have a 25% probability of achieving a pregnancy with their own eggs. At 44, the chances are reduced to 1.6%. At an older age, it is more advisable to use donor eggs or use one of the many assisted reproductive techniques available. The age of the father should also be taken into account , since the quality of sperm also decreases over the years.
The chances of suffering a miscarriage also multiply as the age of future mothers advances. The rate is 35% for 40-year-old women and reaches 50% for 45-year-old women. The probability of delivery by cesarean section is also close to 50%.
The hypertension and diabetes are other risks to which mothers overcome four decades of life you face. For this reason, all pregnancies after 40 are automatically considered high risk and are subjected to an exhaustive control by the doctors.
PREGNANCIES OVER 40: RISKS TO THE BABY
These precautionary measures not only affect the health of the future mother, but also that of the fetus. One of the main risks is that the baby has chromosomal abnormalities . The possibility that the child has Down syndrome is 1 in 100 cases, while in mothers of 20 years the figure is 1 in 10,000 cases. Tests such as triple screening and amniocentesis help diagnose these possible ailments.
HEALTHY LIFESTYLE HABITS REDUCE RISKS DURING PREGNANCY
Finally, a minor inconvenience would be the fact that the children of late mothers are usually only children and grow up in environments devoid of children of the same age. Therefore, experts recommend making up for this absence with broader family and emotional relationships.
The balance between positive and negative factors is therefore balanced. As science advances, you can have a safe and healthy pregnancy with an older age. The decision about the most appropriate age rests, after all, with the mother. Of course, it never hurts to have medical supervision.