Preparing for Pregnancy After 40
There are plenty of rumours out there about the risks of pregnancy after a certain age, but the truth is that it’s still entirely possible for a healthy woman aged 40 or older to give birth a healthy baby. While every experience of pregnancy is as unique as the mother’s body, there are a few extra preparations you should make to help with navigating pregnancy after your 30s.
Know the risks
No pregnancy is risk-free, but there are a few extra potential challenges facing expectant mothers over 40, and not only for the baby. Children of older mothers are generally more likely to face problems with chromosomal development, which can lead to conditions like Down Syndrome, although research also suggests that older mothers tend to produce healthier children. In fact, one of the biggest risks facing women over 40 is that the challenges of conceiving may lead to disappointment or depression.
Talk to your doctor
If you are trying to become pregnant, your doctor is one of the first people you should talk to, and not only about the conception itself - you should also make time to discuss your general health and wellbeing, since this can have such a huge bearing on your chances of success. Sexually transmitted diseases can make conception more difficult, as can high blood pressure or even asthma, and your doctor can help you work around these issues to increase your chances of becoming pregnant.
Focus on your physical health
Your biological age is the most important factor in ensuring a healthy pregnancy, and it can vary significantly from your chronological age depending on your physical health. In fact, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the biggest predictors of a healthy pregnancy. This is why it’s so important to eat a healthy, balanced diet, and move your body on a regular basis. Your level of physical fitness will determine your ability to exercise during pregnancy, and at what intensity, but it is entirely possible and common for healthy mothers-to-be to exercise throughout pregnancy.
Work as a team
You and your partner are in this together, and both of you have the power to make the process easier or more difficult by altering your lifestyles in a few simple ways. Working on your health together is one of the best things you can do, since you want your unborn baby to have the best chance of survival. Start by making a joint booking with your GP and gathering the facts about your situation, and then make a commitment to prioritising your health together. It’s easier to commit to a healthy eating plan or exercise regime when you have support, and who better to support you then your co-parent-to-be?
Keep your options open
In case natural conception doesn’t work out for you, it’s worth considering other pathways to parenthood like donated eggs or sperm. This is especially true if you have been trying for a while with no success, or your doctor has indicated that either you or your partner might be infertile. IVF is a popular treatment for couples who struggle to conceive, and although it can be very expensive, it may be comforting to know that there are other avenues available to help you achieve your goal.
While you’re trying to have a baby, your mental state has a significant bearing on your chances of success, and on the all-important relationship you share with your partner. Although doubts and worries may creep in on occasion, it’s important to look after your mental health by occupying yourself with all of the facets of life you enjoyed before you started trying for a baby. Spend quality time with your partner, family, and friends, and keep up the pursuits that give your life colour.
If you’re over 40 and still dreaming of having a family, there’s no need to despair - plenty of others are in the same situation, and many will end up with healthy, happy babies of their own. Don’t give up, because the end result of your hard work will be more gratifying, challenging, and life-changing than you can imagine.
*Consult your physician for your personal pregnancy needs.