Pregnancy in Your 20s, 30s and 40s
Halle Berry pregnant at 45!? Gwen Stefani at 43!? Are the 40s the new “prime” when it comes to pregnancy? Medically speaking, all research would say no. Culturally and statistically speaking, the tide is certainly shifting in that direction.
So what is the perfect age for pregnancy? The answer is as unique as we each are. There are advantages and disadvantages with every age group, so when the time is right for you, tune out the negative and forge ahead with confidence and optimism.
Facts: This age has always been deemed the most fertile. Miscarriage, infertility and other risks are at their lowest, and women generally have a larger supply of energy.
Perspective: How a woman in her 20s feels during her pregnancy depends a great deal on other areas of her life. Nikki Bennett, Shawnee mom of Beckett and Lilly, shares her insight about pregnancy in her 20s:
I had my son at age 22, and it was a surprisingly difficult pregnancy. I was sick the entire time, and the labor was long and strenuous. I thought my youthful body would handle the experience better than it did. My second pregnancy at age 24 was not much better. I ended up on bed rest out of concern for pre-term labor. My kids are both healthy and happy, but the journey to their arrival was not a smooth ride.
Throughout my doctor appointments with both pregnancies, they were never concerned about risks revolving around age. This was an advantage and gave me a peace of mind. I also noticed that even after my second birth, my body was able to bounce back fairly quickly. Is that my age or am I just lucky? Another advantage I see of having my children in my 20s is that my husband and I will have an empty nest around age 45! This is a prime time in life. Being 45 with an empty nest will give us the advantage of being more financially stable, still having great energy and more time to be able to travel, pursue hobbies, etc…
My husband and I had to figure out how to be married and parents all in a short amount of time. This was a challenging aspect of being pregnant at a young age. Trying to finish up school with two young children was stressful and challenging to say the least. We relied on the support of our family and friends, and I am now proud to say I am in my first year of full-time teaching. Like any working mom, I am working to find the balance of it all.
Facts: Since 1980, the birth rate for women in their 30s has nearly doubled. It is projected that by 2017 the age range of 35-39 will have the largest increase in births. Fertility does begin to decline in this decade, but does so gradually.
Perspective: Women in their 30s generally have put in some time with their careers and can claim the advantage of having established their careers and other life experiences, such as marriage, financial goals, etc. This decade is split into two categories, as the 35th year puts you in the “advanced maternal age” category. Monica Berg, Prairie Village mom to Annika and Asher, shares her perspective on two very different experiences with her pregnancies in her 30s.
I was pregnant with my daughter when I was 33. My age was never mentioned once during this pregnancy. My doctor did ask me if I wanted all of the screenings done, but it was not something she really recommended. She talked about the risks and benefits, but since I was under the age of 35 she was okay with my not having them done. We decided not to have any of the tests done, and no one mentioned them to us again.
When I was pregnant with my son I was 35, and this seemed to be a whole new ballgame. At my first doctor appointment, advanced maternal age was mentioned. Everything I read was about advanced maternal age! Everything was a higher risk with this pregnancy. When it came time for the screenings, my doctor just scheduled them for us. Of course, we had the choice to not do them, but she highly recommended them to us. Even up to the day I gave birth, my age seemed to play a factor in everything. To me it seemed silly. I was only a couple years older and I didn’t feel any different, so why was everything more complicated?”
I worried through both of my pregnancies. But, during my second one I felt like there was more to worry about than before. Just because of my age.
Facts: "There's a steep drop in fertility in the 40s," says Julia Johnson, chair of the reproductive endocrinology and infertility department at the University of Massachusetts. "Your odds of getting pregnant at 41 are much better than they are at 43."
Perspective: Although the numbers and stats can be discouraging, it is also a fact that many women in their 40s have complication-free pregnancies. We also live in a day and age where modern medicine is definitely on our side when it comes to pregnancy in our 40s. Some advantages of having children in your 40s include financial and job security, a stronger sense of self and presumably more time with your partner, which can serve in providing a strong foundation for your little bundle of joy.
Amanda Doll enjoyed her kid-free 20s and is loving raising her two little guys in her 30s.