The average age when women in the United States have their first child is 26.3 years, and this age has risen slightly over the last few decades. Some couples will wait until just after they graduate college and are starting to establish their adult lives to have a baby. Their intent is to have children when they are younger so that they have more energy to devote to their kids, or they may simply have been following the same path that generations of previous family members followed. Others, however, are deciding to travel, achieve financial security and meet career goals before having kids. In fact, it is increasingly common for couples to have their first child in their 40s. While this is still a biological possibility, it is important to understand the risks and benefits of doing so before you make this life-changing decision.
The Risks of Pregnancy Later in Life
There are a few risk factors that increase with age. Both the overall quality of eggs as well as the chromosomes in the eggs deteriorate with age. This means that women are at an increased risk for having a miscarriage in their 40s. Most of these miscarriages occur in the first trimester. So you may need to prepare for this possibility if you want to try to get pregnant in your 40s. In addition, because the chromosomes may be damaged, there is an increased risk for the baby to have Down’s syndrome or other genetic issues. However, there are some ways to mitigate these risks. For example, you could obtain a donor egg and go through the in-vitro fertilization process. This can be time consuming and expensive, and it is not a possibility for everyone.
It is also important to consider your own mortality. In your 40s, you may very well be in the prime of your life and may have as many as 40, 50 or more years to spend with your children and even grandchildren. However, the mortality rate for those between the ages of 45 and 54 is 134 per 100,000 people. This sounds low at first glance, but you cannot predict when death will occur. More than that, the risk for death increases substantially in the 55+ age group, and reasonably expect declining health as you age. The average mortality rate for Americans is 78.8 years.
The Benefits of Having Children in Your 40s
While there are risks associated with getting pregnant in your 40s, there are also benefits. For example, you may be much more financially secure in your 40s. So be more able to take care of a growing family. You may also be more secure in your career and be able to take time off of work or manage your schedule better. You have more experiences to build off of, and this can guide you in your parenting decisions. Also you may have been married for a considerable period of time, and your relationship may be very stable. Further, you may even be more educated and better able to provide your children with various experiences and insights.
The decision to have a baby at any age is not a matter to take lightly. If you are middle-aged, you may feel a sense of pressure because your biological clock is ticking. However, it is important to think through all aspects of the pros and cons. Ensure that both partners are on the same page as well. By doing so, you will be able to better decide how to proceed with your family-planning goals.
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