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Pregnancy in Your 40s

41 and Pregnant: So What?

We're happy to present this article from our partners at Yahoo! Shine.

On Friday, British columnist Ashley Pearson, who had her first child at 41, described her discomfort about being part of a recent BBC radio program debating whether older mothers are selfish. "Despite my near-visceral reaction that the question is just plain silly, apparently many people still think so," Pearson wrote. "A recent study showed that a staggering 70 percent of women over the age of 55 are opposed to and uncomfortable with women having babies in their 40s." While the panel consisted of three women and one man, she says the last word was given to the male, a member of British Parliament who had his proverbial knickers in a twist about fertility rates. "[He said] that while some women can have babies later in life, most can't," recounted Pearson in the article. "And that you better get on with it then, hadn't you? On that depressing note, we closed the show."

Related: The Most Annoying Things My Partner Said During My Pregnancy

It's true that in the United States, as well as in the U.K., more and more women are delaying having babies. According to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control, birthrates for women in their 40s are at their highest since 1967. With larger numbers of women holding down demanding jobs and with the availability of improved fertility treatments, the increase isn't surprising. In the 1960s, women who were giving birth in their 40s were on a third or fourth child; now it's often their first. But why should having a baby later in life be considered "selfish" at all?

Today's older mothers are often called selfish presumably because women over 35 have a greater risk of delivering a baby with birth defects, including Down syndrome. However, many health issues, including cancer, mental illness, and autism, are associated with older fathers. Dads of a certain age, though, are considered generous, because they "give" their wives (who are often younger) children. And the same argument holds for critics who weep for children whose older mothers will die earlier, though that hand-wringing does not seem to apply to every paunchy Hollywood actor or grizzled rock star with wrinkles, gray hair, and a litter of toddlers. Another reason why older mothers might be considered selfish is that they are providing their country with fewer babies. This is certainly the case in Britain, where the government has launched a full-throttle fertility campaign, including scary posters of a 40-something pregnant woman made up to look ancient, with the caption "I wish I'd had my babies younger."


Sure, it would be nice if we could plan out perfect lives ahead of time, but the reality is, many women don't have a lot of choices. During a family dinner on Sunday, my stepdaughter, who is 23 and recently became a member of the full-time labor force, quizzed me on how women are supposed to manage having both children and a career. She's suddenly seeing firsthand that the modern working world allows scant time for taking care of one's self, let alone a pack of kids. My spontaneous answer was, "I have no idea." Despite the fact that I'm a full-time working mother, I didn't have any insightful tips. I sacrificed a number of years of my career in order to care for my youngest daughter, who is now 15. While I'm grateful for that time, it was one of intense anxiety over our family budget, and now, those years gone forever, and I'm out-ranked and out-earned by many of my colleagues who are a decade younger than me.

Another way women muddle through (forget "balance" — seesaw is more like it) is to delay childbearing until their late 30s or early 40s, when their seniority is more entrenched. And it pays off: According to University of Virginia economist Amalia Miller, each year a woman delays childbearing results in an increase of career earnings by 10 percent. But even the term "delaying childbearing" presumes a grand plan: What if you don't fall in love until you're 35 or older, or life hijacks you in another 100 unexpected ways?

What I should have said to my stepdaughter was that the answer may lie in some conversation she needs to have with her future partner. It's mothers and fathers shouldering the responsibility for kids as a team and working out solutions together who might determine innovative ways to achieve that magical balance that has eluded women thus far.

— Sarah B. Weir

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TriciaLarson64691 TriciaLarson64691 3 years
I was 41 when I had my first child too. After 6 prior miscarriages they found out I had APA, I took Baby Aspirin, and my son arrived safely into the world. Eight years later his Dad passed away and he is now starting to recover from that since I've remarried recently. It is never too late if the baby is healthy. I love my precious blessing. :)
rebeccabillingslea rebeccabillingslea 3 years
I was 35 when I had Ranyah and 41 when I had Maya - they will be 14 and 8 this year and I will be 50. Much of this is out of our control - as a believer in God child birth is a miracle. So things can happen at any point in someone's pregnancy no matter how old the mother is. The bigger issue to me is how the parents or mother takes care of themselves after the child is born. Be healthy and take care of yourself. That is the best gift to give your children.
marie77686 marie77686 3 years
SO what? this world is SOooo hung up on youth..... Who is the judge that says you cannot plan your life, those that say when you should and should not simply are selfish for telling others what they feel they must and must not do, as long as babies and Children are " wanted" we'll cared for Healthy and Loved then end to the very " silly" ageists" disputes with woman Babies and their bodies. We are made to carry them God never never placed a age on when we a woman should not, common sense in all circumstances, however all curcumstnaces are very different person to person , isn't it. I think a mature woman who has had life experience and more chance of having a income for some yrs , has have enough time to really think seriously enough about bring " life" in to t his world full stop. And know's What she is doing before making her family will have far better chance of rather then just having a drunken 1 night stand, or has a jerk of a pimple faced young boy who is not a grown man ready for a family. ( my niece very attractive every thing going for her bright and hard working , 19 pregnant tries to do the right thing for the baby they made together marries the jerk ( who her father could see is a idiot) who got her pregnant, then he runs off with another young woman) You see" Life experience gives, or should give you better insight what man can step up to be a real dad..... its father material as well that counts having a great family. There is more a issue for good woman trying to find a good/ great man who would make the best Father after the fact of a pregnancy... so who cares about what age a woman Gets pregnant?? stupid. there are by far more younger girls who are rejecting and not wanting their own Unborn because of immaturity, where wis the comparisons? you cannot compare a baby who can be cared for and wanted, than the those who have no Love or respect for a human life..... I have X2 friends: X1 Had her first around 39... had twins that died in Utro_ then another baby, and has another 6mth old she is 45-46.( NO IVF) 9 4-5 yrs and 6mth olds. Family doing very well. X1 had her X3 Children in her 40s, last baby when she was 46, ( with NO IVF I add) as she was very fit and Healthy outdoors type person. The ability to Love care for, have Unconditional Love, be responsible, pay for all school etc, bring up to 18 yrs is what counts... and not many 13-18 and nessary early 20s yrs olds are not ready at younger people are more aware that it also take amore than just Love.... moist the time was not enough love when they made a baby...... there are solo many so called oppose mistake babies made in this world..... and here people also look down no on older Mums?? was this a male written this? or just a ignorant female?
Jane15324720 Jane15324720 3 years
Oh brother! I just turned 43 and am about to deliver a perfectly healthy baby in three weeks. I am a very healthy woman and honestly I am more healthy now than I was in my 20's when my last child was born. Did I plan this pregnancy? Not at all. But it happened and we are very happy with the prospects of becoming parents again. Our first children were born to us at 18 and 23 when we were dirt poor and always struggling. Now we are doing so much better in every way! This new child will have two older grown sibblings who love him or her very much. He or she will also get to live in a nice house with their own room, unlike their older siblings who grew up in apartments and had to share a room, even though they were a boy and a girl. The list just goes on and on and I have not even mentioned how much wiser we are! As far as pregnancy risks go, i truly beleive that a lot of that has to do with healthy living. I think that the "risks" come in because most people by the age of 35 have taken a lot of perscription drugs, maybe even some illegal ones and they have drank large amounts of alcohol and have probably used a lot of chemical birth control. But if a woman has lived a healthy life, then I see no reason why she should be afraid to have children. My husbands grandmother had a child in her 50's! The pregnancy was not planned but the baby was deeply loved and there was nothing wrong with him either. I really see a lot of benefits to being older and having children. Besides, I just don't see how the new generation of young people do it anymore? Now days both parents work, the cost of childcare is so hight that it is mostly only available to the rich and the cost of living in general is so much higher. I even told my own 24 year old child to just put off having children until they are at least in their late 30's and have thier careers in place!
AmandaD57823 AmandaD57823 3 years
I definitely feel that a baby in your 40's is Not a good idea. I would Not consider bringing a child into this world at that age.
annad7434 annad7434 3 years
Having got pregnant by accident at 41, having my baby number 4 was probably the least selfish thing I have ever done. She might have older parents than our other kids at that age, but she is now 3 and has the benefit of a 14 year old brother and 2 sisters aged 16 and 20, who all love her to bits. I would not by choice have had my first baby at 41, and think when you get to your 50s and need fertility treatment you might just have left it too late.
mountainmama0508 mountainmama0508 3 years
I had all three of my children over 35- at 38, 41, and 44. I had uncomplicated pregnancies and perfect, healthy children. People need to get used to seeing women become mothers at an older age. It gave me a chance to build a career, travel, and ensure financial security. I was also way more health conscious at 40 than I was in my twenties, which is better for both mom and baby. I think this is likely a trend of the future. If you take good care of yourself, there is no reason why pregnancy later in life needs to be looked at as "too risky".
ElizabethEllis62221 ElizabethEllis62221 3 years
My grandmother, was born in 1918 to her 41-year-old mother. Her mother made no preparations for the baby as she assumed they would both die. They both lived to be in their 90s. So I guess misconceptions about mothers in their 40s have been around for a long time. I think people get too caught up in statistics. Having a baby always carries a risk of some sort and you have to figure out for yourself what you think you are capable of. I agree, too, that childbirth is not always put off for making money. I didn't get married young and having babies in my 20s was not an option for me. Would we encourage women to rush into relationships at a young age or to view the role of a father as unimportant? Mothers are not supported much no matter what the age or circumstance. The view seems to be generally, you can have a baby if you choose, but you're most likely stupid for it or selfish. And by all means don't bring the thing in my sight. So women are always trying to prove themselves and seek approval. I could go on for days. People just need to stop caring so much about these opinions.
DeborahRidgelyPaegelow DeborahRidgelyPaegelow 3 years
Seriously? How can a woman decide when God gives her a child? This whole debate is picky and some people think they know it all. How dumb to criticise other women for deciding to be thankful for a gift God gave them. How petty. Those haters need to get a life.
RivkaMorowitz1371642774 RivkaMorowitz1371642774 3 years
Many women just think it is natural to have children even after 40 when they conceive naturally. My Father thought that his Mother (My Grandmother) got pregnant with his younger brother at 43 was a normal thing to happen. That was 1959. I know personally several women that got married at 38 got pregnant immediately but could not carry through a second preg after age 40. So they adopted.
summerstraus summerstraus 3 years
I think it's wonderful not selfish having a baby in your 40's. I'm 42 and just had my beautiful baby boy!! Not one of my friends or family was supportive. Everyone just said "WHY???" "Theirs other OPTIONS" and my favorite "Your too old!! " It was hurtful and disappointing. We didn't use IVF it just happened so we took as a new chapter in our life!! I have a 25, 19, and now a 7 month old. If women want to do and they can, then I say go for it!! The only thing that was frustrating was the lack of community with other older moms, I joined several online mommy message boards to try to connect with older moms for support!!
KeriRozansky KeriRozansky 3 years
Selfish? Really? That's so stupid. It's a woman's choice when, if ever, she wants kids. You will when you're ready, if that's what you want. If you're ready in your 20s, good for you. If you're ready in your 30s, good for you. If you're ready in your 40s, good for you. At my son's Catholic school (where he's in 1st grade) parents of his friends range in age from as young as my husband and I (32/33) to as old as early 40s. You're ready when you're ready. I would think it's selfish to not have kids when you're ready just because "society" says that's the "wrong" time for you to be having a baby.
Lindasilver1379361631 Lindasilver1379361631 3 years
I had twins at 49 and it's wonderful and hard and rewarding. I tried for 15 years with my first husband to ni avail . My second husband made it happen . I live my children like mad I am the best mother I can be I try to stay healthy for them . I run around all day for them to play groups and activities so unless I'm asking you naysayers to take care of them your opinion is none of my business
Crystal15320745 Crystal15320745 3 years
Kuddos to you mama!!! So happy for you, no matter what age you are, a baby is a gift from god, I had to have my uterus removed in my 20's due to benign fibroids, the doctor didn't tell me all I had to do was remove the fibroids and I could still have kids, I still have my ovaries and would love to be able to find a gestational carrier but at my age of 39, no one wants to help me, people need to keep their rude comments to themselves, it's a wonderful blessing that your body is still able to perform this beautiful miracle of having a child, bless you and I wish you and your baby the best of luck.... *Hugs* Crystal
TinaOReally TinaOReally 3 years
Hi, Having a baby at 41 yrs off age I say "WELL DONE"! Your the one who's going to rear it not these critics. I'm just gone 40 and TTC baby number 5. I started at 16 and I don't know what age I'll finish at..!! Once myself and my husband are healthy and looking well for our ages I'm not going to be age 50 and looking back regretting not having more kids. Their my life! I know I look as good as my 30 yr old friends.. too many people won't believe me when I tell them my age. I mean Doctor's, Nurses, Teacher's, Taxi drivers and just people in general. They thought I was in my 20s!:D. Don't think about all that "Oh when I'm 60 the kid will be 20", So what! That's no big deal nowadays! If you can have them and really want them don't let Anyone put you off!! Also it's Sad that most of these negative people are women in their 50s..
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