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By Bill Chun,  MD, FACOG, Medical Director at Northern Essex Women’s Health, MA, Founder, 40 & Beyond, LLC.

During the more than twenty years I have worked as an OB/GYN I have guided mothers from the age of thirteen to fifty-three through the process of conception to childbirth. If I haven’t seen it all, I think it’s fair to say that I’ve seen a lot.

As a fifty year-old father of five, with three children having been born during my forties, I have a very personal appreciation for the issues relating to childbirth later in life.

There are some inescapable facts related to later pregnancy that should be noted. Studies suggest that good outcomes can be realized in women over forty-five or even fifty, but that the likelihood of certain complications is much higher. Such complications include higher rate of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, fetal chromosomal abnormalities, congenital anomalies, placental abnormalities, gestational diabetes, hypertension, cesarean sections, increased risk of preterm deliveries and perinatal mortality.

These are simply facts, and should not be taken as an indictment of, or editorial against, older women becoming pregnant and giving birth.

In fact, older women enjoy certain advantages over their younger counterparts in coping with the stresses and risks associated with childbirth.

Older OB patients are more likely to be well prepared for the experience of pregnancy and childbirth, including all possible outcomes. They are often better informed, financially stable, partnered, and generally wiser about life. This allows them to better deal with the increased risks of later pregnancy, and cope with poor or difficult results when necessary.

Whereas younger patients tend to react to circumstances as they arise, older patients use their knowledge and preparation—in conjunction with their doctor’s guidance—to create and follow a plan for their pregnancy. An older patient’s birthing plan usually includes pain management and informed options for dealing with various contingencies.

Perhaps the greatest advantage that older patients hold over younger mothers-to-be is resiliency. The kind of strength and wisdom unique to mature women is of necessity called upon to prepare, plan, and cope with the added risks of later pregnancy.

For this reason, more older women are experiencing successful pregnancies and the fulfillment they can bring at a vital stage of life.

Notes for this blog:

DR. BILL CHUN. Over the past 25 years, Dr Bill Chun has been a practicing OBGYN most recently in a private practice setting in Lawrence, MA.

Dr. Chun’s role as a physician, advisor, coach and caregiver to women has given him unique insight into the challenges women face as they transition into middle age. His career as a physician and his interactions with his patients has driven him to create the Haja for Life social network, an online community designed to harness the power of collaboration to improve the wellness of women over 40.

As founder and Chairman of the Board, Dr Chun oversees the Board of Directors and Technical Advisory Board to ensure the proper governance of the company and to provide the vision for the many online tools, content and programs that members can access free of charge.

Dr. Chun is a graduate of Ohio State University of Medicine and a member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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18 Responses to The Advantages Of Later Motherhood

  1. Ellen says:

    I never thought I was going to have a child so when I was blessed with my pregnancy at 44, I was so grateful that every ache and pain during pregnancy never really got to me. Every time I got up to breastfeed my son in the middle of the night, was not a chore or something negative. I was reminded of how lucky I was!

  2. Louise Bungay says:

    As I fear clinical depression might creep up on me again associated with the grieving process I may have for being almost 45 and childless, I am filled with some hope that Dr. Chun has written this encouraging article. We feel – my partner and I – that we are going through this alone, but to read success stories on this blog is the only source of hope … in knowing that there are others out there in their forties who have endured and have had their dreams fulfilled. Thank you for sharing, Dr. Chun.

    • Amanda says:

      hi Louise Bungay, I just turned 45 years of age. I do have one child (he is 4.5 years old) but I would like a sibling for him. I too am starting to feel the creeping or depression as well. I was wondering if I could also share my story here and also get encouragement back. Please write me if you wish to connect via emial. I know that I have one child but the paniced feeling or something going away never to be brought back (fertiliy), is probably the same as the one you are experiencing. I hope to hear from you. Amanda –

  3. sarah weissman says:

    Being a mother at any age is a blessing….and as a mom who went through lots of infertility to be blessed at 39 and 41 I wouldn’t change my life for anything…
    one tip – you will need to your energy to keep up… wear Goodnighties for better sleep! (that’s my tip!) LOL 🙂

  4. Lylas says:

    Thanks Dr. Chun for accepting patients as old as 53. When I was pregnant at 51, there were several doctors that wouldn’t consider me as a patient.

  5. s says:

    Wait a minute Dr. Chun! As an “older” Mom, I can appreciate your comments. BUT conceiving at 45 and above is done only through fertility treatments using DONOR EGGS and you no where state this fact. You are giving women false information that can lead to the conclusion that they can conceive on their own or with their own eggs. Please make sure to detail this important information in the future. Too many women are waiting to long to conceive because of falsehoods in the media!

    • Donna says:

      I Must agree as I tried from age 39 to 46 having 10 Miscarriages. I only conceived through IVf with my daughter’s Eggs. It is so Important to not give false hope, but I want to acknowledge that It can happen…My ex-mother-in-law was conceived by her mother at age 46.

      • Donna says:

        Let me correct myself..I gave birth to a Beautiful Healthy baby Boy from the gift of Daughter donating her eggs to us. Very Blessed I am!

  6. mary andrews says:

    Thanks Dr. Chun for your compassion, wisdom gained through experience and hope. Your positive words are an inspiration!

  7. Angel La Liberte (http://www NULL.flowerpowermom NULL.com) says:

    Hello S,
    Dr Chun is an OB/GYN, which means he treats women through pregnancy and birth. He does not deal with fertility issues and, in his blog post, he did not discuss the issue of whether his patients conceived naturally or via egg donation. Therefore, all of his information was accurate and based on experience and medical knowledge, and in no way misleading.
    Regarding natural conception, I can assure you that I’ve connected with many women who have conceived naturally after 45, and as late as 50. I conceived my second child at 44. Natural conception via a woman’s own eggs after 45 is still possible, although the likelihood of succeeding in conception, or carrying to term is greatly reduced, compared to younger women. Because of this, many fertility doctors will urge women over 40 to use donor eggs, leading to the assumption in many that conception in your 40’s is not possible.
    Certainly, all women should check out the fertility facts based on age, as well as the state of their own reproductive health, before choosing a direction. (For more info on fertility and age, check out Dr. Seibel’s guest blog at: http://flowerpowermom.com/making-baby-takes-time/ (http://flowerpowermom NULL.com/making-baby-takes-time/).)
    In the end, whether or not to choose egg donation, or attempt natural conception, is a personal choice to be weighed carefully for each woman, depending upon her own unique circumstances, mindset and reproductive capability.

  8. Ramona says:

    Thank you for your support. I’m 42, almost 43 and STILL TTC. My hormones levels happen to be excellent but I’m overweight. I’m focusing on getting my weight down and hopefully, we will conceive again. We are stuck trying naturally as we have no money or insurance for IVF. Not all women put career first, I met my soul mate at 38. I didn’t want children until I was in a loving relationship. Now that I am, we’ve had 2 mc…and hoping we may still have son or daughter some day. We need dr.’s support and again, thank you for your wisdom.

  9. Tina says:

    We need more Doctors with the same compassion and understanding as Dr. Chun! I’m 43 and pregnant for the 1st time. The baby will be born before I turn 44. We were blessed very quickly after deciding to try for a baby. To all those out there who are in the process at an older age, don’t give up hope and always have faith!! Believe and have confidence that it can happen. Start taking care of yourself right now. Eat healthier, get regular exercise. Do everything you can to prepare your body, mind and spirit. Most of all, try not to stress about it all. Know that there are other options too for you to become a Mother.

  10. LeslieC says:

    Yes, I agree that any time a doctor mentions giving birth at an older age there should be a mention of the fact that most women over a certain age who are getting pg are doing so with donor eggs. There’s so much misinformation about this out there – with celebs getting pg with donor eggs but not talking about it (that’s fine – it’s privacy they deserve) – the medical community has to step in and build awareness of the growing misconception (sorry for the pun) that women can now have biological children well into their 40s. It’s the exception and a rarity. Can it happen – yes. Does it happen often, easily and without complications – no.

  11. Mature1stmum says:

    Women definitely get pregnant naturally in their 40’s just as teens, 20’s, and 30’s can have fertility problems. What is misleading is to state that a woman of a particular age cannot get pregnant after a particular age. How do I know? Well, I’m one of those mature first time mothers and I’d never had fertility treatment in my life or been pregnant yet was married 10 years.

  12. Lydna says:

    I am in Australia…! How can you help me! I am 45, have been trying for more than 10 years. I really like to have a baby. Possible?

  13. Angel La Liberte (http://www NULL.flowerpowermom NULL.com) says:

    HI Lynda,
    If you’ve been trying for 10 years and have been unsuccessful, I think it would be wise to to see a fertility specialist (reproductive endocrinologist) as soon as possible. After 42, fertility rates in any given month are less than 5%. While it is still possible to conceive naturally at 45–I conceived at 44 and I know of women that have conceived in their late 40’s to 50–you need more answers. There are also alternatives to motherhood if your own eggs are not an option.

  14. Top Over-40 Mom Site Re-launches With Extreme Makeover « A Child After 40 (http://achildafter40 NULL.wordpress NULL.com/2012/11/13/top-over-40-mom-site-re-launches-with-extreme-makeover/) says:

    […] became pregnant after 40 via natural conception, or ART […]

  15. Aubria says:

    I’m a 42 year old mother with a 18,15 and 16 month old baby. I am pregnant and will be 43 when baby #4 is due. Never a fertility drug ever, all natural. I have been very blessed indeed.

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