46 and Having a Baby

Julie Kirk
Happy mature pregnant couple

The terms "46" and "having a baby" don't need to be mutually exclusive. While the likelihood of getting pregnant does decrease as a woman gets older, it doesn't mean that women in their mid-forties necessarily need to give up on the idea that they will be able to carry a child. Getting pregnant at 46 years old may have some challenges, but it's not impossible.

46 and Having a Baby: Pros and Cons

Some women put off starting a family due to career issues. They may have spent extended time on their education in order to prepare for their chosen career or they may have delayed starting a family in order to focus on becoming established in their career. For others, the decision not to have children may have more to do with their relationship status. No matter what the underlying cause, there are plenty of good reasons to delay having children.

The Pros to Waiting

There are a number of beneficial reasons why a woman may choose to wait to have a baby.

  • Women who wait to have children may be more educated and settled in their careers than younger mothers.
  • Mature parents may also have more financial resources available to them than their more youthful counterparts.
  • If the woman has been with her partner for a long time, their relationship may be more stable and secure than the shorter-term relationships due to having to deal with a number of life situations together before having children.
  • Older women who choose to become parents may have more patience. The maturity that comes with experience helps them to keep things in perspective.

The Cons to Waiting

There can be a downside if a woman decides to wait to have a baby.

  • The likelihood of conceiving decreases as a woman ages. After age 35, a woman's fertility rates drop to about a 20 percent chance of pregnancy and by the time a woman reaches the age of 40, her chances of conceiving with her own eggs are approximately 5 percent. By age 45 (and over), the rate drops to about 3 percent.
  • Miscarriage rates are higher for older mothers. A 35-to 45-year-old woman who becomes pregnant has a 20 to 35 percent chance of miscarriage. At 45 years and older, the odds of losing the baby increase to 50 percent.
  • Risk of birth defects increases with maternal age as well. A 40-year-old woman has a 1 in 90 chance of having a child with Down syndrome. By age 45 and over, the rate increases to a 1 in 30 chance of having a Down syndrome baby.

Options for Women Getting Pregnant at 46

If a woman finds that the expression "46 and having a baby" is one that she wants to apply to her, she should discuss her plans with her doctor. He or she can give her advice based on her personal medical history. It may be unlikely that she will be able to conceive without help, but it's not impossible. The doctor can refer the woman to a fertility specialist for a consultation and care. An option for women in their 40s who want to carry a child is to use donor eggs with in vitro fertilization (IVF). The specialist can outline the options available for each particular patient.

The Perfect Time to Have a Baby

No matter what age a woman happens to be, there are pros and cons to having a baby. Deciding to delay parenthood may mean that plans for retirement will need to be put on hold due to increased financial responsibilities later in the parents' working life. For some women, this tradeoff is worthwhile since they feel they are better prepared to deal with the joys and frustrations that come with having children.

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46 and Having a Baby