Last Updated on August 5, 2022 by Joshua Isibor
🌟 Having a baby at 50.
Having a baby after age 35 is more common than ever, but the buck doesn’t stop there. Many women are successfully having babies even in their 40s and 50s, too. So having a baby at 50 could be quite challenging and risky, the chances of getting pregnant are slim but not impossible.
We’ve all heard about the tick-tock of that “biological clock,” and it’s true, that age can make a difference in terms of natural conception. But thanks to reproductive technologies, one-hoping nature, and waiting until the timing is right, even if that’s when you’re in your 40s or even after you’ve hit the big 50s, may be a real option.
If you’re considering a baby at 50, or if you’re in your 50s and expecting, you probably have a lot of questions. Your doctor should be the person to give direct and reliable answers.
🌟 Delayed childbearing
Delayed childbearing is a social phenomenon in which women are delaying having children. This trend can be observed in both developed and developing nations. The reasons for delayed childbearing differ greatly, including the development of contraceptive use, improvement in women’s educational levels and employment, and changes in family policies. Delayed childbearing also has a series of macro and micro consequences, such as a lower fertility rate, a higher risk of a congenital defect, and a greater generation gap between parents and children.
🌟 Reasons for delayed childbearing
While people have traditionally had children in their 20s and 30s, many feel that there are some advantages to waiting, or adding another child to the family years after you’ve had your first.
You may wish to travel, establish or advance your career, or become more comfortable with your own identity before initially starting a family. These are some major reasons for putting off first-time parenthood.
Or, you may find a partner later in life and decide you want children together and this is completely legit! you may not want kids when you’re younger and then change your mind.
When you’re in your 40s and 50s, you’re perhaps more likely to have the financial stability and flexibility that can make it easier to care for children. You’ll also have more life experiences. (Just don’t think this means you will have all of the answers when it comes to parenting, we are yet to meet someone who does!)
Having children with a large gap in their ages also has benefits that appeal to many families. A mix of older and younger children allows for the older ones to take a more active role in caring for a new little one.
And if you already have children when you get pregnant in your 40s or even 50s, you’ll love the joys of parenthood all over again and likely with less stress than the first time around.
There are also lifestyle changes to consider. While some women welcome their 50s as an opportunity to explore, having a baby could disrupt this. You might find other common milestones less traditional too, such as an upcoming retirement or traveling.
✔️ But there are some things to consider
While having a baby later in life can be easier in some respects, it may also be more difficult to conceive. Your pregnancy will also automatically be considered high risk.
🌟 Risk factors surrounding pregnancy at 50
1. Preeclampsia (a type of high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy that can become life-threatening).
2. Gestational diabetes.
3. Ectopic pregnancy (when the egg is attached outside of your uterus).
4. Higher risk of requiring a cesarean delivery.
Additionally, other risk factors pertain to your baby. The later in life you have a baby, the higher the risk of:
1. learning disabilities
2. Birth defects
3. Chromosome-related differences, such as Down syndrome
4. low birth weight
It’s wise to undergo pre-conception counseling to discuss your reproductive goals with your doctor. They can go into more detail about risks and considerations or a safe method of getting pregnant.
Only a few women can naturally conceive a baby later in life, without the help of reproductive technology and these are rarely first pregnancies. These women go through menopause later and have lower risks of heart disease, osteoporosis, and dementia.
But does that mean that it’s safe to start a family later in life? Are there other risks and complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth in your 50s, the answer is “Yes”
🌟 Altering demographics
A woman’s reproductive capacity has a finite lifespan. Her eggs initially grow when she is inside her mother’s womb, and are stored inside her ovaries until she begins to menstruate. Each month, more than 400 eggs are lost by attrition until the one million she originally had are gone, and menopause begins.
Social and financial pressures are driving most Australian women who want to have children to wait until later in life. The number of women having babies in their 30s or later has almost doubled in the past 25 years in Australia, from 23 percent in 1991 to 43 percent in 2011.
Around one in 1,000 births occur in women 45 years or older. This rate is likely to increase as new technologies emerge, including egg donation.
🌟 Other Possible risks of conceiving at age 50.
Women aged over 30 are more, likely to suffer from life-threatening high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia) during pregnancy than in ’30s (5 percent compared with 2 percent) and are twice as likely to have gestational diabetes (5-10 percent compared with 1-2.5 percent).
More than half of women aged over 40 will require their baby to be delivered by cesarean section.
Increasing maternal age increases the chance of dying during pregnancy, or during childbirth. Mothers in their 40s and 50s are also between three and six times, more likely to die in the six weeks following the birth of the baby, than their younger counterparts, from complications associated with the pregnancy such as bleeding and clots.
Mothers aged over 40 are more than twice as likely to suffer a stillbirth. And for a woman aged 40, the risk of miscarriage is greater than the chance of live birth.
Babies born from older mothers are 1.5-2 times more likely to be born too soon, (before 36 weeks) and to be born small (low birth weight). Low birth weight and prematurity carry both immediate risks for the babies including problems with lung development, obesity, and diabetes as an adult.
Irrespective of the risk involved in delayed childbearing, science and technology have made things easier and more possible. The good news is that even at an advanced age, one can still conceive and bear children. Some studies have concluded that there is no definite medical reason for excluding very advanced maternal-aged women ( v AMAW), from attempting pregnancy based on age alone.
🌟 Possible ways of getting pregnant at age 50.
✔️ How to get pregnant at 50
Biologically speaking, we’re born with all the eggs we’ll ever have. Once we hit puberty and start menstruating, we’ll generally release a mature egg each cycle. But the drop in egg count is even more dramatic than that, and our numbers will lower each year until we hit menopause.
It’s estimated that the average woman has just 1 million oocytes (also called egg cells) by the time she reaches age 51. This is a drastic drop from 500,000 during puberty and 25,000 in your mid-30s.
While getting pregnant with fewer egg cells isn’t impossible, it may mean that you’ll have a bit more trouble getting pregnant naturally.
Egg quality also decreases as we age, which can make conception difficult or increase the risk of chromosomal abnormalities, which can make early pregnancy less likely.
The general advice is to see a fertility specialist if you’ve tried to conceive naturally for six months without any results and you’re over age 35.
However, if you’re actively trying to conceive in your 50s, you may want to talk to your doctor about seeing a fertility specialist even sooner, due to the rapid depletion of oocytes.
The specialist may first suggest taking fertility drugs to ensure that you ovulate. This may be especially helpful during pre-menopause when your cycles are increasingly unpredictable.
Sometimes, taking these drugs is enough to result in a successful pregnancy after very little time. These drugs can increase the number of mature eggs you release during a cycle, therefore creating more “Targets for Sperm”
Or if you’re still having trouble conceiving, your fertility specialist will tell you about other options.
1. (IVF) In Vitro fertilization:
They may recommend in vitro fertilization (IVF), a method that retrieves eggs from your body and then fertilizes them with sperm separately, in a laboratory before injecting them back into the uterus.
Multiple eggs are taken at a time since not all are expected to be successfully fertilized. You may end up with zero, one, or multiple embryos after completing a round of IVF.
If you’re 50, your doctor may suggest that you have more than one embryo transferred (if you’ve got them) to increase your chances that one of them “sticks.”
However, it’s entirely possible that all the embryos you have transferred will implant, resulting in pregnancy with multiples! Because this makes for a higher-risk pregnancy, make sure you discuss the possibility with your doctor and partner.
We’re not going to whitewash it, your age will be a topic of discussion during this process. (This is true even for women in their upper 30s.) Because of possibly lower egg quality, you may be encouraged to do genetic testing on the embryo(s) that come out of the IVF process.
This can be expensive, and the results can’t be guaranteed with 100 percent accuracy. But choosing the best embryos, the ones without detectable genetic abnormalities at this stage may give you the greatest likelihood of pregnancy success.
2. Using frozen eggs.
Freezing your eggs (cryopreservation) when you’re younger is a great option if you think you may want to add to your family later in life. This also involves IVF. The idea is that you have eggs (or embryos) frozen until you’re ready to use them, if at all.
Cryopreservation isn’t guaranteed to create a successful pregnancy, but as we’ve mentioned, your egg quality tends to be higher when you’re younger. On the flip side, live birth rates are lower than frozen eggs.
3. Using a gestational carrier. (Surrogacy)
Your 50s can bring about a few conception issues, including the inability to release eggs, lack of fertilization, and an increased risk of miscarriage.
In these situations, you might be looking at a possible gestational carrier, another woman who could help carry your child to term. Ask your doctor how you might find a surrogate.
A gestational carrier can become pregnant via IVF, using embryos created with donor eggs or your own. Your options will depend on your preferences and fertility health.
4. Egg Donation.
If you are older, especially if you’re over 42, and have not succeeded with other therapies, or if you have premature ovarian failure (POF), also known as early menopause, your treatment options are limited. Egg donation, which involves the use of eggs donated by another woman who is typically in her 20s or early 30s, is highly successful.
The high success rate with egg donation confirms that egg quality associated with age is the primary barrier to pregnancy in older women. If you are over 40, your chance of successful pregnancy is much higher in IVF cycles using donor eggs, but many couples or single women in their early 40s will choose to accept the lower chance of becoming pregnant and using their eggs.
By age 43, the chance of becoming pregnant through IVF is less than 5%, and by age 45, the use of donor eggs is the only reasonable alternative.
In an egg donation cycle, the woman receiving the donated eggs is referred to as the “recipient.” The egg donor receives fertility medications to stimulate the production of multiple eggs in her ovaries. At the same time, the egg recipient is given hormone therapy to prepare her uterus to receive the fertilized eggs (embryos). After the “eggs” are obtained from the “donor,” they are fertilized in the laboratory with “sperm” from the “recipient’s partner”. Several days after fertilization, the embryos are transferred to the recipient’s uterus. Any embryos that are not transferred may be frozen (cryopreserved) for a future cycle.
Donor-egg IVF offers a woman an opportunity to experience pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. The child, however, will not be genetically related to her but will be genetically related to the father and the egg donor. Many programs recommend counseling so that all parties in a donor-egg agreement understand the ethical, legal, psychological, and social issues involved. Because success depends heavily upon the quality of eggs that are donated, women in their 20s with proven fertility are ideal donors.
🌟 Benefits of pregnancy at 50.
1. It may boost your brainpower
While it may also be the benefit of less stress and the ability to gain more knowledge through schooling, studies show that having kids later in life can make you mentally sharper as you age.
One study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, tested 830 middle-aged women to determine whether there was a link, between having a baby at a later age and brainpower. They found that women who had their last child after the age of 35 had sharper cognition and verbal memory. They also found that women who had their first child after the age of 24 were better at problem-solving than their peers who had children before age 24.
2. Your child may have a reduced risk of injury
Of course, you’re going to protect your child as best as you can, no matter your age. However, several studies point to the fact that a child’s risk of experiencing an unintentional injury that requires medical attention declines with increasing maternal age.
One study, in particular, published in the British Medical Journal in 2012, found that at age three, a child’s risk of unintentional injury declined from 36.6 percent for moms aged 20 to 28.6 percent for moms aged 40. Another more recent study out of Japan, which analyzed the risks of unintentional injuries and hospital admissions at 18 and 66 months according to maternal age, reached the same conclusion.
“Although the exact reasons for fewer injuries aren’t known, it is clear that one health benefit of being born to an older mother, is a decreased likelihood of experiencing an unintentional injury,” says Patricia Salber, M.D., founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Doctor Weighs In.
3. You might be more prepared emotionally.
There’s an undoubted sense of maturity that comes along with age. (Just think about how much you’ve changed since your teens!) Research suggests that maturity plays a role in better parenting.
In a March 2017 study published in the journal European Journal of Development, Dutch researchers looked at the psychosocial development of two groups of children at ages 7, 11, and 15. One group was born to moms older than 31 and the other was born to moms younger than 31. When analyzing their psychosocial development, they were surprised to find that older moms were less likely to scold or physically discipline their kids.
“Overall, the children of older moms were better behaved, well socialized, and emotionally healthy in their pre-teen years,” says Salber. “In other words, older moms’ with more relaxed parenting behaviors appear to have paid off for these youngsters.”
4. Your child is likely to be more tech-savvy and better educated
The longer you wait to have children, the more likely your child will grow up understanding more advanced levels of technology.
“Children of older parents benefit from the educational, technological, and social progress that has been made during the years of delayed childbearing,” says Kameelah Phillips, M.D., OB/GYN in New York City. “A Swedish study noted that when these advances are considered, children of older parents tend to be healthier and more educated.”
5. You might be more financially stable.
Countless research supports The theory that health outcomes are often tied to how much money is in the bank. If you have the advantage of finishing up your degree and putting your time into developing your professional career, it only makes sense that you’re more likely to earn a higher salary than a mom who had a child before establishing her career.
“Studies show that children of older mothers stay in the educational system longer, do better on standardized tests, and are more likely to go to college than their peers born to young moms,” says Salber. “The effect of improved outcomes related to socioeconomic status likely affects the health outcomes of the offspring throughout their lives.”
6. You may live even longer.
“Some people think that having babies late in life either means you won’t have the energy to keep up with young kids or worse, you won’t be around for their major life events, like getting married or having their children,” says Salber. “But research finds that this couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
A 2015 study published in Menopause found that women who have children after the age of 33 were twice as likely to live to age 95 compared to women who had their last child before age 30. And that’s something worth considering.
In a nutshell pregnancy at age 50 has its merits and demerits, so it’s left for you to decide where to fall in. It is either you start early conception or late conception, but the main goal is procreation. Once you can procreate then you are safe.
ALSO, READ THE LUTEAL PHASE, WHAT IT IS? AND HOW IS RELATED TO PREGNANCY
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