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Child-bearing as you age

To a woman in her child-bearing years, there are advantages and disadvantages of pregnancy at every age. Health as well as emotional and family issues are in the forefront of a mother-to-be’s mind, so we’ve compiled a list of just some of the things you can expect as we explore pregnancy decade by decade.

Pregnant woman in 20s

In your 20s

Health matters

  • You have a high chance of becoming pregnant. Per, you have a 20–30 per cent chance of conceiving each month.
  • You have the lowest risk of pregnancy-related illnesses, such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.
  • You have a lower risk of carrying a child with spina bifida or Down’s syndrome than later in life.
  • You have a lower risk of having a miscarriage than in your 30s or 40s.

Emotional and family matters

  • Having a baby at a younger age might strain a marital or romantic relationship. Older couples could have more life experience and better manage the life change.
  • You might not feel emotionally ready to have a child.
  • Friendships might change if your peers don’t have children or aren’t ready to accept your new life.
  • You might not be prepared financially to start or add to a family.
  • Your career path has just begun, and you could have to put it on hold or make a change to accommodate your new family.

Learn about common pregnancy fears >>

Pregnant woman in 30s

In your 30s

Health matters

  • The possibility of conceiving is lower than in your 20s but is still 10–15 per cent per month, according to
  • If necessary, in vitro fertilization has a higher success rate than for women in their 40s.
  • You have a higher risk of pregnancy complications and health issues. The risk of pre-eclampsia increases, and per, the chance of high blood pressure during pregnancy doubles after age 35. In the same article it’s reported that gestational diabetes is two or three times more prevalent in women over 35.
  • You have an increased risk of having a child with Down’s syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities.

Emotional and family matters

  • Although relationships are generally more secure, when trying to conceive, your having a lowered fertility rate might put a strain on your marriage.
  • You might have a better support group of similar-aged friends.
  • You will likely have more financial resources than a couple does in their 20s.
  • At least some professional goals might have been met or a career might be established, allowing you to feel more secure about taking time for maternity leave.
  • You could feel more emotionally ready to add to the family.
Pregnant woman in 40s

In your 40s

Health matters

  • The chance of conceiving drops to 5 per cent each month, per, and it continues to drop as you near 50.
  • Per, about one in three pregnancies for a woman in her early 40s will end in miscarriage.
  • The risk of carrying a baby with chromosomal defects or other abnormalities continues to increase throughout the 40s.
  • The risk of heath complications increases, which means you have a greater chance of having a high-risk pregnancy. This is dependent on a number of factors, but your health care provider can suggest treatment options and give you the specific care you need.

Emotional and family matters

  • You and/or your partner might experience the strain from the “it’s now or never” mentality of the biological clock ticking.
  • You and/or your partner are probably financially and professionally secure.
  • If this is a first child, your new mom friends and support groups will likely be comprised primarily of younger women.
  • You are likely comfortable with who you are and fully ready to commit to adding your family.

Having a successful pregnancy is possible at any age, so if you have concerns or questions, seek the advice of your health care provider, who can give you all the information you need for a healthy pregnancy.

More on pregnancy

Baby on board: Pregnancy bloggers we love
10 Surprising perks of being pregnant
7 Tips for dealing with morning sickness

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