Women these days are waiting longer and longer to have children. They have vibrant careers that keep them busy and putting off a family until they have financial and job security.
Sometimes the time just passes and before you know it, 40 is here, and your chances of conceiving and carrying a baby to term has slipped a bit.
Luckily, 40 is the new 30, and with proper supervision and careful preparation, it is not only possible to have kids well into your 40′s, it is happening more often and more successfully than ever before.
Here’s some tips to successfully have children at forty.
First, see a physician, either your General Practitioner or your OB/GYN. Get a full checkup and consult with the doctor based on their knowledge of your medical details.
To get started, most doctors advise women over 40 to take the same steps as any other woman to prepare to get pregnant. These include:
- Stop smoking, drinking alcohol and check with any prescription drugs. This can be a little difficult for an older woman who has been smoking for 20 years or who is used to a glass or two of wine at the end of a long day. It is important to stop and find alternatives immediately so habits can be broken before pregnancy.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. This is especially important for women whose metabolisms are slower than someone in their 20′s. Exercise will also help fight natural bone loss due to aging.
- Eat a well-rounded diet that includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, healthy lean protein and high quality fiber. Stay away from soy and mass produced meats. Introduce more legumes and organic, grass fed meat sources. Start pre-natal vitamins. Check out our fertility food guide for more info.
- Minimize stress and have a plan for dealing with stress factors while you are trying to conceive and when you are pregnant. Stress and normal treatments (like prescription drugs or alcohol) can interfere with conception and pregnancy. Find other outlets like taking classes, yoga, meditation, writing or anything that will free your mind from daily work stress.
- Cut all caffeine from your diet. For a career in the office, this is hard, but possible. Exercising in the morning often provides the same energy jolt. Caffeine as a habit is much easier to kick than nicotine – a few days of grumpiness and headaches, and afterward your body can do without it.
- Reduce all environmental toxins at home and work. For instance, do not decide to install new carpet now, due to the off gassing of chemicals such as formaldehyde (the “new car smell”, which is actually quite toxic).
- Track your ovulation cycle. Familiarize yourself with your own cycle and start taking your temperature to determine when you are most likely to get pregnant. This is especially important for women over 40 as the hormones begin to change pre-menopause and cycles can become irregular.
- Prepare yourself with a support system for positive and negative outcomes. Have alternatives in mind so that you have a plan for how to proceed next. This is one of the ways older women will have an advantage, they usually have more security financially and career-wise as well as a base of reliable friends and family.
The Next Step
Once you have made all of these changes and ceased all birth control for a couple months, try getting pregnant with intercourse near ovulation for three whole months (cycles).
For a younger woman, a general rule of thumb is for a year of trying naturally before infertility could be an issue. For those over 40, infertility could be a potential question if you are not pregnant within three months.
After three months, you should visit a fertility specialist for any potential problems. The doctor can examine ovary function and your partner’s sperm to isolate any concerns.
Some issues might be exacerbated, like a pre-arthritic condition in the joints or slowing of the metabolism, but most doctors will be able to identify and address these issues early, and these are usually of minimal concern.
One thing to be aware of is that the eggs that are left are the ones that have taken the longest to develop, and so have a higher risk of genetic abnormalities. A blood panel will more clearly show chromosomal issues that could compromise your pregnancy.
Yes, You Can!
Changes in your body has its upside too, as women over 40 often release more than one egg per cycle. This increases not only your chance of conception, but also the chance of multiple births.
With proper monitoring, personal awareness and the right attitude, getting pregnant in your 40s is an experience most women would never exchange with their younger selves.
If you do have problems, before devoting a few frustrating months or years with fertility treatments, consider natural, holistic options first:
40 is often the best time to have kids, as you will have finally reached a place in your life to assume your greatest and most fulfilling legacy – that is, to pass down all of your accomplishments, knowledge and life lessons to your new family!