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Pregnancy After 40 Statistics & Facts You Need to Know

Discover the realities of pregnancy after 40 - the risks, chances, and health insights.

Contemplating motherhood in your 40s? You’re part of a growing trend of people choosing to start families later in life.

This comprehensive guide brings you 30 pregnancy after 40 statistics and facts. It includes insights into the odds of natural conception, the realities of high-risk factors, and the necessity of specialized prenatal care.

Whether you’re considering having a baby at 42 or 44, exploring IVF options, or curious about fertility for older women, this article provides well-researched information to guide you. Stay informed about what to expect and ensure the best for you and your future child.

Key Facts About Getting Pregnant at 40

Want to know quick pregnancy at 40 statistics and facts? Here are five you don’t want to miss:

  1. The birth rate for women aged 40 to 44 in the U.S. was 12.5 per 1,000 women in 2022.
  2. By 40, healthy women only have a five percent chance of getting pregnant per cycle.
  3. By 43, a woman only has a one to two percent chance of getting pregnant naturally in a year.
  4. Women who get pregnant over 40 have a 40 to 50 percent greater risk of stillbirth than women aged 20 to 29.
  5. Pregnant women over 40 may have to take a daily low dose of aspirin to lessen the chance of preeclampsia.

Is 40 Too Old to Have a Baby?

It’s not too old to have a baby, but women may find it harder to get pregnant, stay pregnant, and deliver a healthy baby. Healthy women around the age of 40 have only a five percent chance of getting pregnant during each menstrual cycle (1). Most 40-year-old women also have a 40 percent chance of miscarriage, which is much higher than somebody in their 20s.

Generally, women over 35 may struggle with their fertility. As you get older, your ovaries and eggs age, too (2).

A woman has a certain number of eggs her entire life. As she gets older, the number of eggs decreases. The eggs remaining later in life are more likely to have abnormal chromosomes, meaning the child may have health conditions.

A woman has peak fertility between her teenage years and her late 20s. Around the age of 30, a woman is less likely to get pregnant. By age 35, fertility rapidly declines until a woman reaches 45, and then, a natural pregnancy is unlikely.

30 Pregnant at 40 Statistics and Facts

After the age of 40, getting pregnant can pose health risks for both mother and baby. We have compiled 30 essential facts across four topics to educate you on this matter.

Global Trends in Late Motherhood

Compared to a few decades ago, women are generally starting families later in life. Some women are still getting pregnant by accident, too. Below are eight facts about various countries and how many mothers over 40 are getting pregnant.

  1. Worldwide trends: In 1991, 19 per 1,000 pregnancies were of women aged 40 to 44 (3). By 2013, this had increased to 61 per 1,000 births.
  2. Germany rates: In Germany, there were 35,559 births from women over 40 in 2014 compared to 34,641 in 2013.
  3. Trends in the United States: In the U.S., the birth rate for women 40 to 44 in 2022 was 12.5 births per 1,000 women (4). This was up four percent from 2021. In 1986, the rate was only 3.8 per 1,000 women.
  4. Live birth rate in America: Between 2019 and 2021 in the U.S., 3.6 percent of all live births were to women aged 40 or above (5).
  5. Maternal age Canada: More 40-year-old women in Canada are giving birth. In 2018, 15,544 mothers between 40 and 49 had a live birth (6). This was 4.1 percent of all live births. In 2022, this had increased to 17,353, or 4.9 percent of all live births.
  6. England and Wales: The conception rate in England and Wales in 2021 for women over 40 was 17.1 per 1,000 women (7). In 2004, the rate was 11.3, and in 1990, the rate was 6.6.
  7. Women over 40 in Australia: In Australia, a rate of 15.5 women aged 40 to 44 per 1,000 women gave birth in 2019 (8). This increased from 8.4 women in 1999. The rate was 1.1 women aged 45 to 49 per 1,000 women in 2019 versus 0.3 in 1999.

Chances of Getting Pregnant at 40 Naturally

Understand the natural fertility landscape for women over 40, uncovering the odds and realities of conceiving at this age.

  1. Chance of pregnancy per menstrual cycle: By 40, healthy women only have a five percent chance of getting pregnant per cycle.
  2. Yearly chance: By 40, you have a 44 percent chance of getting pregnant within the year.
  3. Advanced maternal age: Although a woman over 35 is of ‘advanced maternal age’, it’s still possible to get pregnant naturally and have a healthy baby in your 40s.
  4. By age 45: By age 45, pregnancy is not likely, especially naturally (9). Another report states that at 43, a woman only has a one or two percent chance of getting pregnant within a year (10). That’s a huge drop from 44 percent at age 40.
  5. Fertility declining with age: Women’s fertility declines with age. Women are born with a set number of eggs — between one and two million — and this number declines with age. With fewer eggs, the odds of conception decrease. Older women may also have other health issues, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids, that make it hard to get pregnant.
  6. Increase your chances: To increase your chances of getting pregnant after age 40, it’s important to eat a balanced diet, get regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, manage existing health problems, and avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and vaping.
  7. Chance of pregnancy with IVF: We’ve discussed the chances of getting pregnant naturally. However, the chance of getting pregnant with IVF (in vitro fertilization) between the ages of 38 and 40 is 20.2 percent (11). Chances are 9.6 percent for ages 41 and 42 and 2.9 percent for women at 42 or above.
  8. Pregnancy at 45: Reputable IVF clinics will have age limits on their IVF procedures. Most programs limit it between the ages of 42 and 45 (12). The reason for this is that the live IVF birth rate for women over 45 is less than one percent. However, many IVF clinics will allow a woman to use donor eggs up until the age of 50.

Maternal and Fetal Health Risks

One of the main concerns of advanced maternal age is the risk to both the mother and the baby. While getting pregnant after 40 has both pros and cons, and many mothers don’t experience adverse effects, there are some critical risks and symptoms to be aware of for both the mother and the baby.

  1. Risk of preeclampsia: Older women are more likely to develop high blood pressure during pregnancy, which can lead to a condition called preeclampsia that may cause organ damage.
  2. Higher fetal birth weight: As a mother gets older, the risk of a higher birth weight for her baby (macrosomia) increases.
  3. Gestational diabetes: Older women are at higher risk of gestational diabetes (13). Mothers over 40 are six times more likely to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes compared with mothers under the age of 20. This is a risk of 15.6 percent for mothers aged 40 and above.
  4. Risk of miscarriage: A woman aged 40 has about a 40 percent chance of having a miscarriage. This is compared to about 15 percent for a woman in her 20s.
  5. Placenta previa: Women over 40 are nine times more likely to have placenta previa compared to women under the age of 20 (14). This is when the placenta covers some or all of the cervix, which can cause severe bleeding before, during, or after delivery.
  6. Stillbirth risk: A woman over 40 has a 40 to 50 percent greater risk of stillbirth compared to women aged 20 to 29 (15). One sample study found the prevalence of stillbirth among mothers 40 to 49 years old was 0.9 percent. This is compared to 0.5 percent in mothers aged 20 to 39.
  7. Risk of Down Syndrome: A woman at age 40 has a one percent chance of delivering a child affected by Down Syndrome (16). This is compared to a 0.08 percent chance in women aged 25.
  8. Risk of C-sections: Between 2019 and 2021, the rate of C-sections was highest for women aged 40 and above in the U.S. (17). Forty-seven point four percent of women aged 40 and above had a c-section compared to 27.9 percent of women aged 20 to 29.

Prenatal Care and Monitoring

It’s essential for all pregnant women to have proper prenatal care and monitoring for the safety of themselves and their babies. Below are seven facts about prenatal care and monitoring in women of advanced maternal age.

  1. Extra tests: In many countries, including the U.K., women over 40 are considered high-risk. They will undergo more tests and scans, and have their blood pressure monitored more frequently to detect preeclampsia.
  2. DIY prenatal care: To ensure a healthy baby, a mother must care for herself. The best tips include not smoking, eating a balanced diet, reaching a healthy weight before pregnancy, avoiding certain infections during pregnancy, not drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs, and staying active.
  3. Genetic screening: All pregnant women are encouraged to get genetic screening, but it’s essential for women of advanced maternal age because their baby is at an increased risk for certain health conditions. These noninvasive screenings can detect genetic conditions while the mother is pregnant.
  4. Invasive genetic testing: If genetic screening detects an issue, the mother may opt for an invasive genetic test. The options include chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis. CVS involves gathering cells from the placenta to diagnose the genetic condition. Amniocentesis involves a needle extracting amniotic fluid from the uterus.
  5. Maternal-fetal medicine specialist: If your baby is found to have a possible congenital disorder, you may be referred to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist who specializes in high-risk pregnancies.
  6. More appointments: Women over 40 may simply have more prenatal visits with their healthcare provider than women who aren’t of advanced maternal age.
  7. Daily aspirin: It may be recommended that women aged 35 or older take a daily low dose of aspirin to lower the odds of preeclampsia during pregnancy (18).

Pregnancy After 40 Success Stories

There have been many amazing success stories of women getting pregnant and delivering a healthy baby past 40.

Nicole Kidman had one of her daughters, Sunday Rose when she was 41 years old. She was able to give birth naturally without an induction.

Hilary Swank was also of advanced maternal age. In fact, she was 48 years old! And — she was pregnant with twins! Swank likely had extra monitoring and worked with a healthcare team specializing in high-risk pregnancies. Although there is extra work and monitoring involved, it shows that it’s possible for women over 40 to have healthy, happy babies.

How To Prepare for Having a Baby at 40

If you’re planning a pregnancy in your 40s or you’ve recently discovered a surprise pregnancy, here are some measures you can take to prepare for a healthy pregnancy:

  1. Manage your weight: It’s important that a woman isn’t overweight or underweight before she gets pregnant.
  2. Let your doctor know: Before you start trying, let your doctor know your plans so they can support you. This is essential if you have other health conditions, as your doctor may want to explain and manage some of the risks.
  3. Stay healthy: Eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly.
  4. Vitamins: Take prenatal vitamins while trying to conceive and throughout your pregnancy to encourage healthy development for the baby.
  5. No smoking or alcohol: Stop drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and using drugs to increase your chances of pregnancy and a healthy baby.
  6. Seek fertility treatments: If you are struggling to get pregnant naturally, you may want to seek help from fertility treatments, such as IVF.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a Scottish freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. She is a mum to a young boy, and believes that it truly takes a village. When she’s not parenting, writing about parenting, or working, she can be found reading, working on her novel, taking photos, playing board games or wandering through the countryside with her family.