Being a Mother After 40: What You Should Know

Being a mother after 40 is an increasingly common decision. However, you must know the consequences that it can bring.
Being a Mother After 40: What You Should Know
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Being a mother after 40 is an increasingly common phenomenon, as many women decide to fulfill their professional goals before entering motherhood. But is it safe to face a pregnancy after this age?

While it’s true that the fulfillment of personal wishes is very important, carrying out a healthy pregnancy is also very important. Therefore, delaying this stage too long can reduce the possibility of conceiving naturally and increase the risk of certain obstetric complications.

Although science has made important advances in the field of fertility, it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits of being a mother after 40. Here’s everything you need to know!

The risks of being a mother after 40

After age 35, a woman’s body begins the aging process, which intensifies after age 40.

As well as the skin, female reproductive organs, hormones, and all the tissues involved in pregnancy gradually deteriorate. This results in greater difficulty in carrying out a healthy pregnancy. Likewise, after 40, the risk of miscarriage doubles compared to that of a woman between 20 and 30 years of age.

However, in recent decades, there’s been a considerable increase in the number of women delaying childbearing. According to a study published in 2019 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the pregnancy rate after 40 increases by 3% year after year.

Scientific advances have given a break for those women who wish to postpone this stage. However, there are some risks linked to this decision that you should be aware of. We’ll discuss them in detail below.


A couple looking sadly at a pregnancy test.

Over the years, the production of gestational hormones decreases and this makes natural conception difficult after 40. In addition, the egg reserve also decreases, and it’s estimated that the chances of getting pregnant after this age are around 5% each month.

As a result, many women undergo fertility treatments, but these are expensive, tedious, and don’t guarantee pregnancy 100%. And in contrast, they increase the risk of miscarriages or multiple pregnancies, which at this stage of life, can be quite complicated.

Maternal-fetal diseases

High blood pressure, obesity, gestational diabetes, and certain placental alterations are some of the diseases that can appear more frequently in pregnancies at an advanced age. High-risk complications include preeclampsia and some perinatal conditions, such as premature birth.

Genetic abnormalities in the baby

Chromosomal alterations in babies born to elderly mothers are greater than in the case of young mothers. The risk of the baby suffering from Down syndrome, some congenital heart disease, or other inherited diseases increases considerably after the age of 40.

Higher rate of cesarean births

As discussed earlier, placental alterations, the risk of preterm birth, and obstetric risks increase after age 40. For this reason, many doctors recommend cesarean section in these pregnant women, in order to prevent possible complications of childbirth.

Less time spent with your children

Being a mother after 40 has other consequences that go beyond the pregnancy itself, such as the time you’ll spend with them throughout their lives. In this sense, it’s possible that you’ll miss certain important stages, such as their wedding, their graduation, or the birth of your grandchildren.

In addition, from the age of 40, it’s common for some conditions to appear in your health and for you to tire more easily.

Parenting difficulties

Taking care of a baby takes time and a lot of energy, especially in the first years of life. After 40, the daily vigor begins to decline and fatigue becomes more frequent, making it even more difficult to keep up with a baby.

Similarly, being the mother of a teenager between the ages of 50 and 60 can be more difficult. Keep in mind that adolescence is a complicated age and that the age difference can have a significant influence.

Lack of grandparents

Although this is a point that’s not usually considered, grandparents play a very important role in the upbringing and education of children. However, when motherhood is postponed, children are deprived of enjoying this relationship.

Breast cancer

If the pregnancy is delayed after the age of 30 a woman decides not to have children, the risk of developing breast cancer increases. This is related to the anatomy and maturity that breast cells gain after pregnancy and lactation.

A woman pressing on one of her breasts with both hands.

Before getting pregnant, evaluate all the scenarios

As we’ve seen, there’s a long list of risks to consider before choosing to become a mother in your 40s. However, the maturity and stability that come with age can balance the scale in your favor.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Baranda, N. (2014). Edad materna avanzada y morbilidad obstétrica. Evidencia medica e investigación en salud. Vol. 7, Núm. 3 • Julio-septiembre 2014 • pp 110-113.
  • Centro para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (2019). Births: Provisional Data for 2018. Recuperado de:
  • Macias, H. (2017). Edad materna avanzada como factor de riesgo perinatal y del recién nacido. Acta médica grupo ángeles. Volumen 16, No. 2, abril-junio 2018.
  • Martinez, J. (2016). La maternidad en madres de 40 años. Revista Cubana de Salud Pública. 2016;42(3):451-458

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.