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People have children at various stages of their life, and this means at different ages. So, is there something like ‘the perfect age to have a baby’? The fact is there are advantages and disadvantages to having children at every age. Also, factors like the financial situation, the society you live in, and the career prospects of both parents also play a role in picking the right time to start a family or expand it. In this article, we shall discuss all the aspects of pregnancy that are dependent on the age of the woman who wishes to have a baby. Gaining in-depth information about all these factors will help you decide which the best age for you to get pregnant is.
What Is the Best Age to Get Pregnant?
The answer to this question will vary depending on the individual who is asked the question. The definition of “best” will also differ according to individual circumstances. But, overall, a majority of surveys and studies indicate that the ideal age to get pregnant is between 20 and 35. However, the best period to have a baby is different from what is considered the best age to bring up a child, and that is the mid-30s.
Does Age Matter for Getting Pregnant?
The reason why 20-35 is considered the preferred age for having a baby is that in this age group, women are physically better prepared for pregnancy. They find it easier to conceive and are less vulnerable to pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia, ectopic pregnancy, and stillbirth amongst others. This is also the period when the eggs are the healthiest. Therefore, it is the perfect window for those wanting to get pregnant. Also, there’s enough time to space the pregnancies adequately. We shall talk a little in detail about pregnancy at different ages to help you decide when you’d want to have your first or the next baby.
Pregnancy at Different Ages
While for some, 20-25 years might seem the perfect time to have a baby, others cannot possibly think of having a child before the age of 30. Here are the pros and cons of pregnancy at different ages.
1) Pregnancy During 20-25 Years
This is the age when women are at their peak fertility and have the best chance of pregnancy. At this point in life, you will have the highest number of quality eggs available. The chances of a low-risk pregnancy and a healthy baby are also highest during this period. Let’s take a look at some other pros and cons of having a baby during this time.
- You are also less likely to have a chronic medical condition in this phase and will have enough energy to last you through a pregnancy. The chances of miscarriage are lowest at this time, and the babies are not often prone to chromosomal problems.
- It is also easier to regain your pre-pregnancy body quicker at this age since the tissues that keep your waist in shape have not been stretched out by age or weight gain.
- However, it is worth considering that this is also a time when you might not be emotionally prepared to handle all that pregnancy entails.
2) Pregnancy During 26-34 Years
Age 26 to 34 is considered a good time for pregnancy, especially for those women who have a healthy lifestyle with adequate nutrition and fitness. Around this time, you will be physically and mentally prepared for the rigours of pregnancy. However, you must keep the following in mind if you are planning to have a baby during this period.
- The early 30s has been seen as a preferred time for pregnancy among career women. In fact, it has been observed that those who gave birth as teens developed more health problems later in life than those who delivered babies in their 30s.
- It must be remembered that there is a decline in fertility as you cross 30 with the chances of pregnancy each month hovering around 20%. Also, the C-section rate among women aged between 30 to 34 is twice as high as those in their 20s.
- The rate of miscarriage is 15% while there is no significant change in the risk for Down Syndrome until age 35.
- For many couples, this is a time when their relationship is most stable ensuring they are committed to parenthood.
3) Pregnancy During 35-40 Years
Between 35 to 40, fertility levels keep dipping and getting pregnant might become more and more difficult as you move towards age 40. Other factors of having a baby during this period include –
- A higher probability of developing pregnancy ailments such as hypertension and gestational diabetes.
- The risk of miscarriage and the threat of chromosomal abnormalities increasing with maternal age.
- Chances of conceiving twins due to hormonal variations with age that can result in multiple eggs being released during ovulation.
4) Pregnancy Above 40
The number of women aged 40 and above giving birth has significantly increased from what it was a couple of decades ago. However, the chances of getting pregnant, drop to 5 percent every month after 40. Here’s what you need to know if you are planning to have a baby in your 40s.
- Figures indicate that about a third of women over 40 struggle with infertility.
- They are also six times more likely to develop gestational diabetes or have diabetes as a pre-existing condition.
- Additional tests and close monitoring of the pregnancy might become essential if you are pregnant and over the age of 40.
- On the positive side, at this age, you are likely to be financially secure and experienced in time management. Even if you are a high profile career woman, you might be at a stage where you can take some time off or opt for a flexible work schedule to spend time with your child.
Being in good health before getting pregnant is more important than your age at the time of the pregnancy. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper prenatal care can help you have a smooth pregnancy and healthy baby, irrespective of how old you are.
Similar to a woman’s age and fertility, her male partner’s fertility is equally important to get pregnant and have a healthy baby. Let’s see how age and fertility are dependent on each other in the case of men.
Men’s Age and Fertility
Getting pregnant doesn’t need a high-quality egg only; it needs a high-quality sperm too. And, just like women, men’s fertility also declines with age. It is, therefore, an important factor when a couple is trying to get pregnant. A man’s fertility declines by up to seven percent each year between the ages of 41 and 45. The drop just speeds up after that. The risk of miscarriage increases if the father’s age is over 45, irrespective of the age of the mother. Let’s take a look at the other factors that are affected by the age of the man.
- Children born to older men are also more vulnerable to autism, mental health issues, and learning difficulties.
- Studies indicate that while it takes about four to five months for a man under 25 to father a child, it can take a man of over 40 about two years even when the woman is under 25.
- The volume of semen and motility of sperm declines with a man’s age.
- Testosterone levels tend to fall after the age of 40, and this means a subdued libido which can also make it difficult to have sex.
- Male fertility can be affected by illnesses, and these are more likely to surface with age. Certain medications such as steroids, anti-depressants, antifungal medicines and diuretics can also negatively impact a man’s fertility.
It is not improbable that an older man can father a child. But realistically, fertility declines with age in men just as it does in women making natural conception much more difficult.
The reasons for getting pregnant or having your child during a particular age in your life may be varied. But, what is more important is to be happy with whatever choice you’ve made, and to take in your stride the joys as well as the challenges of raising children.
Disclaimer: This information is just a guide and not a substitute for medical advice from a qualified professional