Embracing motherhood in 20s, 30s, and 40s: Here are the pros and cons

Every woman may choose motherhood at a different age and stage of life. An expert weighs in on the pros and cons.
You need to take care of yourself during pregnancy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Shilpa Singhal Updated: 23 Oct 2023, 13:08 pm IST
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In today’s time, women are increasingly striving towards establishing a healthy balance between motherhood and their life goals, such as prioritizing education and career above marriage and pregnancy. Therefore, the age at which women embrace motherhood is not restricted to a definite year or years. In fact, medical experts highlight the fact that women above the age of 30 can and do embrace motherhood. Though, the age at which women choose to conceive has increased from the conventional 20s to 30s and even 40s, pregnancy, at any age, does have its pros and cons.

Motherhood in the 20s

Primarily, the traditional age at which multiple women embrace motherhood is their 20s and it does have its benefits. A healthy expecting mother in her 20s is said to be relatively more fertile due to the improved quantity and quality of eggs. Therefore, women in their 20s have higher pregnancy possibilities within a year of trying. As there are relatively lower risks of experiencing pregnancy complications, pregnancy-associated problems can be prevented during these years.

pregnancy in 20s
Your 20s are a time when you are most fertile. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Pros and cons

Preeclampsia or elevated blood pressure and the presence of protein in urine are common pregnancy complications, typically impacting women and first-time mothers during their 20s. Still, normal deliveries are more likely due to greater hip flexibility and reduced complications. Hence, women can reduce their chances of undergoing surgical cesarean deliveries. Certain conditions that can negatively impact women’s fertility such as polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) due to weight gain or an ovulation disorder are comparatively common amongst women in their 20s. Therefore, women with these conditions can reduce the associated risks of miscarriages by opting to conceive during their 20s.

Also, read: Trying motherhood via IVF? Here’s what a fertility specialist wants you to know

Motherhood in the 30s

30s have become the newer age of adopting parenthood. Often juggling between career and family, it is typical for the new age couples to take the first step towards pregnancy only in their thirties. Women, who choose to delay pregnancy to their 30s due to their education, career ambitions or other personal reasons, are equally capable of experiencing motherhood as and when they are willing or prepared. However, a decline in fertility is seen in females as they enter this age.

Pros and cons

Importantly, an improved sense of mental and financial preparedness is positive for both the mother and the child. However, medically there are certain pregnancy cons during the 30’s and 40’s that women must be mindful of. Particularly, there are increased risks of experiencing fertility-related complications during the 30s and 40’s. Therefore, fertility specialists advise the early 30’s as ideal for first-time mothers and the late 30’s for a second child, as fertility ability typically starts declining above the age of 35. Nevertheless, women who do get pregnant above the age of 35 remain in relatively higher risk groups due to developing conditions such as hypertension or diabetes, which are common during these years.

pregnancy in 30s
The risks of pregnancy increase in your 30s. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Not only the mother but the risks of the child being born with innate birth defects or neurological conditions such as down syndrome are also raised. Importantly, delivery complications greatly differ from pregnancies in the 20’s as women are more vulnerable to miscarriages, surgical caesarean deliveries, or unconventional ectopic pregnancies, which means outside the uterus as opposed to inside the uterus.

Motherhood in 40s

Women in their 40s generally experience reduced pregnancy chances. Chances of spontaneous conception are often rare since their body’s ability to produce the necessary quantity and quality of fertile eggs or anti-mullerian hormone starts to decrease in the late 30s. Hence, fertility planning through egg or embryo freezing and alternate pregnancy treatment options such as IVF are commonly recommended.

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pregnancy in 40s
Be careful about going for a pregnancy in your 40s. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Pros and cons

Technological advances have made pregnancy an easy option. As age increases, there is a greater chance of pregnancy risks including miscarriages, other medical conditions or innate birth defects. Hence, preterm or cesarean delivery options become more common. Increased prevalence of medical disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, stress, neurological issues make pregnancy a high risk affair in the 40s.

To say the least, pregnancy has a different impact on women across age groups and pregnancy-related complications are not limited to a certain child-bearing age. Increasing age can present different fertility risks and challenges that women should consider for prevention during their pregnancy journey.

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About the Author

Dr Shilpa Singhal Consultant - Birla Fertility & IVF ...Read More

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