Up until two decades ago, women would usually try to get pregnant in their 20s. In the last decade, this number has spilt over to the 30s for several reasons. Women are choosing to get married at a later age, wish to be financially stable, would like to prioritise their career, or recognise they don’t feel mentally ready. Now when you add a layer of Bollywood celebrities who have access and money to the best fertility treatments and pregnancy alternatives, this number moves up even further.
For example, Bollywood actress Bipasha Basu recently announced that she is pregnant with her husband Karan Grover’s child. At age 43, the celebrity’s announcement gives hope to women who wish to get pregnant in their 40s. But, what does it take to make this a truly bankable alternative?
The Channel 46 caught up with Dr Manjiri Mehta, Consultant Gynaecologist, Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai. The expert breaks shares an easy-to-understand guide to help you plan your pregnancy in your 40s. Read on.
Why is getting pregnant in your 40s so challenging?
Fertility or lack of fertility is one of the main barriers that exist in the journey of a woman’s pregnancy. While some women do not have any problem getting pregnant after age 40, statistically, the chances of conceiving naturally might be a little challenging. However, a host of fertility treatment options can help couples conceive a baby of their own.
So while there is no perfect age for a woman to get pregnant, there is no doubt that pregnancy can be physically and emotionally demanding at any age. However, as a woman’s age increases, especially after 35, this process can get a bit more complex and challenging. This might make many women vary about becoming pregnant, but medical science has come a long way, and it is now possible for women over 40 to become pregnant.
What are some fertility treatments that a woman can/may have to consider?
There are various fertility treatments that infertile couples can consider depending on their specific requirements and budget. It can mean anything from oral medicines for conceiving, regular intercourse, or using donor eggs, IUI, or IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).
While the number of people who seek help from fertility experts generally increases with age, there is no specific age for reaching out to an expert. A key issue with age is that it can impact the production and quality of eggs in women. Since the health of the eggs diminishes with age, it is best to seek the help of an expert so that couples can increase their chances of pregnancy in a compelling fashion.
It is also essential to understand that the partner’s age can also play a significant role in the pregnancy journey of a couple. Pregnancy success isn’t solely dependent on the woman; even though most people incorrectly believe this is the case. Just like a series of tests are run on a woman to determine the best option for conception for her, a series of tests have to be run on the male partner, too. These include testing the semen, hormones, and overall health.
What special care needs to be taken for the smooth continuation of pregnancy in the 40s?
While the risk of miscarriage is present in every pregnancy, the risk increases dramatically with age. This is because chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or thyroid disease can complicate a potential pregnancy. However, this is not to dissuade people from getting pregnant, but if couples wish to get pregnant at a later stage, they must try to live a healthy and active lifestyle. This will help them avoid complications that can result from chronic conditions.
What are some physical & mental changes that occur during pregnancy?
There are multiple aches and pains commonly associated with midlife, which can become more pronounced when a person you may find that some of the physical symptoms of a changing pregnant body are more pronounced. However, the good news is that if a person has an active lifestyle, there is no reason why they will not have a safe pregnancy. A good doctor or expert can help women and men maintain a good lifestyle so that their pregnancy plans are not affected.
Pregnancy brings a host of emotional changes as well. While younger women are more adept at coping with these changes, there is also a high level of maturity and financial stability that only comes with age. This means that some of the stress many young people feel about finding a house or a stable job is something older women may not have to deal with at this stage.
What are some guidelines to follow if you’re planning to try getting pregnant in your 40s?
Here are some tips and advice that can help women to become and stay pregnant even if they are in their 40:
- Make a pre-conception visit to get a check-up done and start any treatment that might be needed to address your pre-existing health condition. These could include prenatal vitamins, a healthy lifestyle, and regular lab tests to keep a tab on your physical and reproductive health.
- Go for regular prenatal check-ups
- Eat a nutritious and protein-rich diet that has all the necessary nutrients that are essential for a safe and healthy pregnancy
- Stay active and try to exercise regularly
- Keep a strict watch on weight gain and avoid unhealthy weight gain
- Avoid addictions like tobacco, alcohol, or any other substance
- Go for timely screenings so that any genetic defects in the baby can be avoided
In conclusion, there are certainly some significant challenges that women will need to overcome in their 40s, especially if they want to conceive naturally. However, it is essential to know that you are not alone, and the number of women having babies at this age is increasing dramatically. With proper prenatal care, the chances of women having a healthy baby are still tremendous and possible.
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