Having a baby is an incredible feat for any woman, regardless of age. The thought of making a new life, a whole new human person to bring into this world is pretty incredible. That alone is amazing and, even though it’s been happening since the start of time, a wondrous miracle! Many women have their first children in their mid-20s, but there are a few exceptions who have their children much younger or, as we will explore in this article, much older. Every pregnancy has risks. In early pregnancy, there’s the risk of miscarriage. As the pregnancy progresses, there are more risks of the baby’s development and the mother’s own health, too.
With age, those risks increase. There’s also the struggles to even get pregnant at all, as our aging bodies develop differently and can’t easily do as much as they could when we were younger. We also carry babies differently, and our health is more delicate while pregnant at an older age. However, even with the risks, there are studies that suggest having a baby at an older age is better both for the mother and the child. With maturity and better finances, it’s usually a more prepared environment for a new baby to be born in to.
So here are 20 facts about pregnancy that affect women who have a baby after 50.
20 It’s Unlikely To Happen Naturally
As women age, their eggs lose quality and their ability to be fertilized. Older women also typically have older husbands who, while usually able to produce usable sperm, might not have the ability to help with making an embryo. Our bodies just can’t perform like they used to when we were younger, including our organs.
We’re born with all the eggs we’ll have for our entire lives, every day they lose a little bit of their ability to produce children.
By the time we’re in our 50s, they’ve lost so much, they’ve deteriorated so heavily, it’s pretty difficult to get pregnant without help. It’s not impossible though, there’s plenty of cases where this happens, too.
19 Technological And Medical Advances Help A Lot
While it might not happen by itself, we can use IVF (in vitro fertilization) to get pregnant. With the technology we have nowadays, we can not only get pregnant easier after 50, we can do it in a safe and healthy way, too. We can use donor eggs since our’s might not be in the best condition to get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy. It might sound scary, but many women use IVF to get pregnant with little to no complications. If we’ve waited until we’re ready to have a baby, and our biological clock didn’t get the message, IVF is the best way to do it.
18 Miscarriages Are A Higher Risk
With age, we risk a higher chance of miscarrying the pregnancy. We know how hard it is to even get pregnant at an older age. When we finally achieve it, we worry about everything.
Miscarriages are terrible already and at the forefront of just about every expectant mother’s mind during those first few months of pregnancy.
We fear it. With our aging bodies, the chance of it happening raises significantly, it makes us more on edge and the stress only adds to the risk. We do everything we can to avoid it, but the truth is, our aging bodies up that risk more regardless of what we do.
17 There’s Higher Chance Of Getting Diabetes
Gestational diabetes can happen in women of all ages and health. However, women who are over 50 are about 15% more likely to get diabetes while pregnant. Gestational diabetes is when your blood sugar is high and it can affect you and your baby's health, but eating healthy food, exercising and sometimes taking medication, can help with keeping it lower. Those things aren't as easy as we get older, it's already harder to maintain an active lifestyle with age. Being pregnant at an older age makes it harder to keep active, but it’s the best way to fight the risk of diabetes. So, as rough as cravings might be, it's probably best to stay away from grandma's cookies.
16 The Likelihood Of A C-Section Is Increased
Because our bodies aren’t what they used to be, older mothers may have to have a c-section rather than a natural birth. Just women over 40 are about 22% more likely to need a c-section. With c-sections in general on the rise, it’s no surprise they’d be higher for older mothers, too.
It can be scary when the doctor tells you that you need a c-section, the healing time is much longer and you still have to care for an infant afterward.
After having the c-section, you have to heal from surgery while still having all the troubles of afterbirth and wanting to spend time with your baby. But with our bodies unable to handle regular birth, we have to do what we women always do – hold it together and muscle through it, no matter how tough.
15 You Will Probably Gain Extra Weight
As we hit menopause, our weight starts to rise and losing it is harder than ever before. Getting pregnant causes weight gain, but only a certain amount is really healthy for you or the baby. Most doctors recommend 20 to 30 pounds, but with age and finding it harder to get active, that amount may increase despite how much we do to try and keep it low. Just keep eating well and taking care of yourself, try light exercise as long as your doctor says it’s okay. Weight maintenance is difficult at any age, but the older we get the harder it is.
14 There Are More Aches And Pains
As we age, we start to develop more joint pains or develop arthritis. It’s common knowledge, and it’s no secret we will all have to face these aches and pains as we grow older. Pregnant women also see these pains increase as we progress in our pregnancies. Our joints and bodies start hurting without any obvious reason.
Hormones released during pregnancy make our bodies change and make our joints relax and stretch in new ways.
Combining the aches of age with the pains of pregnancy, we’re in for a world of hurt. There isn’t much that can relieve this, and most creams or topical ointments are not recommended while pregnant. Light heat, relaxation and rest are all we can do to help.
13 There Is Higher Risk Of Having A Genetic Disease
If you manage to get pregnant naturally at an advanced age, your eggs are more likely to be damaged from time. Because of this damage, that is unpreventable and unstoppable, your eggs are more likely to cause defects in your growing baby. Down syndrome is a high risk for babies being born to older mothers, about 1 in 35 pregnancies to women over 40 results in a baby with down syndrome. There is nothing wrong with having down syndrome, people who have it are wonderful, beautiful people. However, it will be a different set of challenges for parents and it is important to be aware of what to expect. Parents have put together a list of helpful tips from parents of children with down syndrome to other new-parents just starting on this journey.
12 You’ll Worry About Missing Future Milestones
We try our hardest, but there’s no real way we can extend our lives.
We never know what’s around the corner, but odds are that the older you are, the less time you’ll get to have with your children. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy every last second we do get! We will have plenty of milestones and memories to last a lifetime, regardless of how long that time is.
11 Low Birth Weight Is A Big Possibility
Low birthweight is when a baby is born smaller or weighing less than the average baby. Race plays a part in this, what’s average for one race might not be average for another. However, age also plays a role in birth weight. A lot of this has to do with babies being born early because our bodies aren’t prepared for the long haul. Some of it has to do with nutrition and diet, as our aging bodies don’t process things the same way it did when we were younger. Sometimes, it’s simply because we can’t get enough nutrients to the baby because of our aging bodies and how they work now. There isn’t much that can be done. So, just stick to a doctor approved diet.
10 There’s A Big Chance You’ll Go Into Labor Prematurely
At just 35 years old, the risk of preterm labor increases by about 20%! Our bodies aren’t cut out for carrying a baby long term when we get older, and preemie births are common for older moms.
Even on bedrest or taking it easy, many older mothers have their babies before their due dates.
This increases the risk of lung or brain problems in babies, and promises an extended stay in the hospital, usually long after the original due date. There isn’t much to do to prevent it, unfortunately. It’s one of the things we have to just prepare ourselves might happen and do our best not to stress over – as hard and impossible as that may seem.
9 Pregnancy Can Make You Look Younger
More of an opinion than fact but there isn’t much that can make you look younger than carrying a toddler on your hip. Being pregnant also helps as the world views pregnancy as a “young women only” situation. The truth is, between technology and medical advances, we can get pregnant at almost any age. As the world views us, being pregnant or baby talking our little ones is usually something only younger women will do. So, with that mindset at hand, we know that people will assume us younger than our real age if we’re in those sorts of situations. You’ll still get some people who assume you’re the grandma but watch their surprise when you reveal you’re the mom, and their attitude adjustments to assuming you must be younger, too.
8 Having A Baby May Increase Longevity
If you can get pregnant at an older age, it’s a strong indication you’ll live longer than the average life expectancy. It mostly has to do with genes. If your genes are good enough to still get pregnant without the help of in vitro fertilization, they’re strong and healthy enough to extend your life.
In a non-scientific way, though, having children later will increase your will to keep living.
You’ll want to see your children grow, you’ll want to see what they can accomplish. You want to stay alive long enough to meet your future grandchildren, too. It pushes your will and changes your mindset, you don’t feel as old as you may be.
7 You Will Probably Develop High Blood Pressure
Even at just 30 years old, a woman is twice as likely to get high blood pressure while pregnant. As we age, our blood pressure naturally increases. Diet and exercise are usually suggested, and sometimes it has to be managed with medication. When you combine an increased age and pregnancy, the risk is increased and simply dieting or exercising may not work, or may even be out of the question. Medication, while worrisome when pregnant, might be the only real option. You have to do whatever is best for you and your baby.
6 Placenta Previa Is A Big Risk, Too
Because our bodies are older, our uteruses have taken some damage and can’t house the placenta as safely as it could when we were younger.
Some people, regardless of age, have this condition though the odds do increase when we’re older. There isn’t anything we can do to prevent it, but keeping up with your doctor visits and monitoring the situation can help keep your pregnancy healthy and increase your chance of a happy, healthy baby too.
5 As Are Ectopic Pregnancies
An ectopic pregnancy is when the fetus grows outside of the womb. Usually, these pregnancies happen in the fallopian tube and have to be terminated. One of the risk factors for an ectopic pregnancy is age, though it’s only one of many factors that may contribute to it. These pregnancies are not viable and there is no other cure for them other than to terminate. It can be a hard blow, but you will still have more chances to have a baby, this doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant again. Anyone can have an ectopic pregnancy, but the risk is increased as you age.
4 You May Be More Psychologically Ready For A Baby
With age comes wisdom. And patience. In one study, it was found that older mothers were more gentle and less harsh with their children. They have better psychological flexibility and the ability to tolerate the complex emotions that come with raising children. They discipline less, too.
Many of these children had less behavioral or emotional problems later in life due to the upbringing their older mother provided.
Because emotional well-being increases with age, it's no surprise these mothers have a better handle on how they deal with their kiddos. The mothers find it easier to be more supportive of their children and encourage better health habits, too.
3 Household Finances Are Usually More Stable
As we grow up and older, we learn how to manage our money better. We know how to save, and usually, have a stable job and income by the time we’re in our 50s. With financial stability, it’s easier to have and support a new baby, which many older mothers would likely be able to do easier than younger mothers. Most older women have their goals set and have achieved many of them. This would likely result in them having more money and even time to spend on a new baby. Younger mothers are just starting out in the “adult world”, and would have fewer resources like this for their children.
2 There’s A Risk Of Heart Defects For The Baby
There is a risk for many different defects when you have a baby as an older mother. One of these defects can be in the heart. Studies have linked a mother’s age with a baby developing heart defects, from minor ones to major situations.
1 in 100 babies are born with heart defects on average in the US, this number increases in older mothers.
Whether it’s genes or simply the mother’s eggs being damaged or deteriorated, it’s a common trend among older mothers with their babies. Some of the heart defects are minor ones that can simply be monitored, some are major ones that need surgeries soon after birth.