Is it safe -- and possible -- to attempt pregnancy in your forties? Obstetrical Nurse Wanda Steele has some information for you.
Wanda F Steele, RN

Your question
I am 42 and my new husband and I would like to have a baby. I have two children, 9 and 12. Am I realistically too old to get pregnant without treatment? Is pregnancy safe at this age? - Diane

The expert answers
Hi, Diane -

By the way, 42 is not OLD these days! No, you are not too old to have a baby. Every day, we have more and more new moms coming to us at later ages. You have two children and this is a new marriage for you. The fact that many women are having careers before they have their babies is another reason that we are seeing more and more women postponing childbearing into their forties.

The fact that you are over 35 will cause you to be offered certain options that would not have been recommended to you in your other pregnancies unless there was another reason other than your age.

Before you become pregnant, it would not hurt for you and your husband to see your caregiver for some prenatal counseling and genetic advice. You need to get started on a prenatal vitamin with folic acid before you conceive. Because of your age, there is an increase in the incidence of Down Syndrome.

There are several tests that be done to see if the fetus has Down Syndrome. Chorionic Villi Sampling (CVS) is one of the earliest tests that can be done, but this test is not without risk. Samples of genetic material are taken from inside the uterus thru the vagina and cervix and a chromosome analysis is done. The usual recommendation is for amniocentesis. Although not without risks, the risk level is lower for this test than for the CVS. A needle is inserted through the abdomen into the uterus with ultrasound guidance to avoid the fetus, the placenta and cord. Amniotic fluid is withdrawn with enough genetic material for chromosome analysis to be done. The same analysis of chromosomes can be done with both tests, the advantage to CVS is that it can be done earlier.

As long as you have no underlying health problems, there is no reason for the pregnancy not to go smoothly. You might expect a few more aches and pains than you had with your earlier pregnancies but all in all, there are no reasons not to have a baby in your forties.

Good luck,

Wanda :)

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