Skip links

Am I Too Old To Have A Baby?

There is no right time to start planning on when to conceive. What might feel right for one person might feel completely unmanageable to another.

Only you can decide if and when you want to conceive. It is a discussion for you and your partner, and no one else… with the exception of a doctor in some circumstances.

What do the numbers say?

It is becoming more and more normal worldwide to wait to have a baby. For women, factors affecting this shift include:

  1. Reaching higher education levels
  2. Lack of childcare, low benefit levels and other financial issues
  3. Divorce, singledom or the availability of a partner to have a child with
  4. Working in male-dominated fields, or lack of adequate maternal policies in the workplace

In 2020, in America, 19% of all pregnancies occurred in people over the age of 35. Whereas in 1994, over half of parents in their early forties had had children by the age of 24.

Did you know?

The statistic that one in three women aged 35-39 will not be pregnant after a year of trying is based on data from 1700s France. The data set was taken from the birth records of people whose life expectancy around the time was 30. More modern studies paint a more promising picture. One study indicates that whilst 82% of couples conceive within one year of trying, this rises to 90% after two years when the woman is 35-39.

In fact, data from 2023 shows that the birth rate among women aged 40-44 has risen by 4% and birth rates among women 45 and older increased by 12% from 2021.

The Risks of Later Age Pregnancy

If we are talking about fertility, age does matter. Everyone – not just biological women, begins to have decreased fertility levels after the age of 35.

For women, during each month of trying, a healthy 30-year-old has a 20% chance of becoming pregnant naturally. This decreases to around 5% per cycle by age 40.

Furthermore, there is enough evidence to show that the chances of developing conditions that can affect both the pregnant parent and the fetus/newborn increase after the age of 35.

These risks and questions about fertility mean that it is a widespread recommendation to plan for your first pregnancy before the age of 35.

At Kari, we know this is a bit idealistic for many.

This recommendation doesn’t look at the whole picture, one that includes life and external factors associated with pregnancy. Lifestyle, career and relationships are all major factors that can affect when it feels right to start conceiving, and for many, this might be much later than what might be considered ‘typical’.

Demystifying the ‘fertility cliff’

Within this article so far, the number 35 has been mentioned quite a lot. The truth is, it’s actually a myth.

TV personality, Kirstie Allsopp once stated that at age 35, a biological woman’s fertility ‘falls off a cliff’. This is severely misguided.

Firstly, there is no such thing as a sudden drop but rather a gradual decline. One that declines from the moment you reach puberty until menopause.

The reason we have the 35 number in our brains, is because the NHS classes any pregnant women aged 35 and over as being of ‘advanced maternal age (AMA)’. AKA ‘a geriatric mother’. At the age of 35 the risk of pregnancies ending in miscarriage doubles, you are also likely to be offered additional testing for chromosomal anomalies.

However, your options are more positive than they’ve been painted to be. Modern procedures to test for fertility offer a personal interpretation of fertility and can accurately measure hormones, egg count, sperm motility and a range of other factors which can optimise chances of conception.

Furthermore, with the advancement of fertility treatment and egg freezing technologies, the magic number 35 could be becoming a thing of the past.

Benefits of being an older parent

As we mentioned, people have begun to shy away from starting a family in their twenties and even their thirties.

On top of the benefits of starting a family, when it is best for you, there are additionally some surprising benefits of delaying becoming a parent too. It is so important to stop making women feel guilty about waiting.

One study from Denmark found that older mothers are “less likely to punish and scold their children while raising them, and that the children have fewer behavioural, social and emotional difficulties” as a result. This is not to say that older parents are better parents, it is just an indication that we need to stop making women feel like by waiting, they’re guaranteed to have unhealthy babies.

Older parents may also have more financial stability and be more stable in their career. This means there could be more job stability and flexibility when asking for work arrangements to take care of their children. Don’t worry if this isn’t you.

Redistributing the blame

At Kari, we talk a lot – and I mean a lot – about taking the blame off of women when it comes to health.

We have recently spoken about men’s fertility, something all too often placed on the shoulders of women. It is very important that infertility should be treated equally.

The first study into the male biological clock was conducted in only 2017. The study looked at the records of 19,000 couples who had undergone IVF. They found that 75% of couples where the man was aged under 35 would have a live birth after six rounds of IVF, but this dropped to 60% when the man was 45 or older.

Although men don’t experience a menopause as women do, researchers have shown that after 45, men experience declining testosterone levels (andropause) and DNA damage which affects the quality of sperm.

It is so important for both men and women to understand these risks, in order to destigmatise the anxieties some men face when they reach a later age and haven’t started a family.

Am I Too Old To Have A Baby?

As long as you are ovulating, you could become pregnant. There are a whole bunch of reasons why it might be more beneficial for you to wait until you’re a little older.

Of course, there are risks too, but we haven’t focused as much on these throughout this article. This is because we are sure that this information is available already, and as a potential later age parent, you’re probably sick of hearing it.

What we hope we have done though is offer an alternative picture about what a later age pregnancy could look like.

This being said, there are serious health considerations, and ones that you need to be discussing with your GP.

However, health considerations should not be the sole decision maker. Relationships, finances, careers and more are all valid factors here.

At the end of the day, education is empowerment, and we hope we’ve filled a gap with this article.

Remember that at Kari, we hear your concerns and understand how much of a major decision it is to start a family. We’re always here to help you, help yourself.

This article has been reviewed by our Kari Health Experts and Editorial Board to ensure accuracy and reliability of the information presented. However, please note that the content provided is for informational purposes only and should not replace advice from your medical professional.

Did you find this article helpful this article? 

If so, you can read related Kari Health articles here:

What is Post-natal PTSD, and how do you treat it?

Five Things to Expect From Your Body Postpartum

Women’s Health Supplements: To Take or Not to Take?

Was this article helpful?

Join the Kari Community using the form below to receive the latest insight and products. 

    Your Name