Mother’s Age

In your 20s, you are probably at your most fertile. Your chances of becoming pregnant each month are roughly 20 percent, and the miscarriage rate is its lowest — 9.5 percent. Despite the fact that you may be physically ready for a child, you may be less stable in your career or relationship in your 20s, and having a baby may add significant stress to your life.

In your 30s, your fertility begins to decline a bit, and the miscarriage rate increases slightly, as do your chances of having a child with Down syndrome or another chromosomal abnormality. At the same time, if you are married or have a partner, your relationship may be more stable, and your career and financial situation more secure.
By the time you get to your 40s, the physical processes of conception and pregnancy become more difficult. The chance of getting pregnant each month drops to 5 percent after age 40. If you do become pregnant, the miscarriage rate rises to roughly 30 percent and the chances of conceiving a child with Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormality rises dramatically. It has been shown, however, that women in their 40s who have babies without the assistance of fertility drugs live longer than those who don’t have children, possibly because of the health benefits of estrogen. A woman in her 40s may also have more lifestyle stability, experience, and maturity than a younger woman, which can make the transition to motherhood easier.

There are many factors to consider when deciding if and when to have a child. Balancing the circumstances of your lifestyle and your physical health can help you make a smart and positive decision. Of course, “surprises” do happen despite the best-laid plans, but you may decide that having this baby is like falling in love — it doesn’t always happen when you think it will.