How Old Is Too Old to Have a Baby? A Pregnancy Checklist

    Updated 02 February 2023 |
    Published 17 April 2019
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Dr. Iryna Ilyich, Obstetrician and gynecologist, medical advisor, Flo Health Inc., Lithuania
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    These days, many people are waiting longer to have babies than previous generations. In recent decades, more and more people are having babies at an older age. Because of that, lots of people have asked: How old is too old to have a baby?

    Read this article to learn more about age, fertility, and how to plan for pregnancy.

    When to have a baby: The best time to get pregnant

    There isn’t a hard and fast rule that determines the best time to get pregnant. Feeling ready to try for a baby is a personal choice that can be affected by many factors. Future parents tend to consider financial stability, housing, career choices, and personal goals when deciding if they’re ready to bring a new life into the world.

    But if we’re talking about fertility, age does matter. During each month of trying, a healthy 30-year-old has a 20-percent chance of becoming pregnant naturally. By age 40, the chance of conceiving naturally is around 5 percent per cycle. 

    This is because, from birth, the ovaries already contain all the eggs a person will have in their lifetime. With age, the quantity and quality of those eggs decline.

    That doesn’t mean that pregnancy isn’t possible after someone is 35 or 40 years old. However, age is an important factor to keep in mind if you’re planning your family.

    How does age affect conception?

    Get answers to the most common questions and more

    How old is too old to have a baby?

    As a person gets older, the risks associated with pregnancy also increase. The risk of miscarriage among 40-year-olds is approximately 40 to 50 percent. The chance of miscarriage when a person is under 30 years old is 15 to 20 percent.

    The risk of developing pregnancy-related conditions also increases with age. After the age of 40, there’s an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes and preeclampsia during pregnancy. Older maternal age has also been found to lead to a higher risk of premature births and emergency C-sections.

    Chromosomal genetic disorders are also more likely to develop when a person is older. Someone who is pregnant at 35 years old has a 1-in-350 chance of having a baby with Down syndrome. At 45 years old, that chance will have increased to 1 in 35.

    There are other things that need to be considered when planning to have kids after 30. On one hand, people often have less energy as they get older. But on the other hand, having financial stability can mean more confidence about the challenges of parenthood. At the end of the day, it’s up to each person to decide when the best time to have a baby is. After all, we all have different paths.

    Having kids after 30: A pregnancy checklist

    There are certain tips that can help someone prepare for a baby after 30 years old. For those who want to have kids after 30, here are some things to keep in mind:

    • Get healthy. Cutting out harmful habits, developing a healthy routine, and eating a balanced diet might seem like simple steps. Scientific studies have shown, though, that getting healthier is one of the most important things to do to boost fertility. Also, being in good health can result in more energy during pregnancy, make recovery from childbirth easier, and reduce certain pregnancy-related risks.
    • Start taking supplements. It’s important for people who are trying to conceive to start taking a prenatal supplement that contains folic acid. The first few weeks of fetal development are very important, and these supplements can aid the pregnancy.
    • Learn more about pregnancy and delivery. Although it can seem impossible to fully prepare for parenthood, becoming educated about these subjects often makes new parents-to-be feel more prepared for these changes. For example, you can learn more about fetal development week by week or find answers to questions about labor and delivery.
    • Know when it’s time to get professional help. As a general rule, it’s recommended that people under the age of 35 seek help from a fertility specialist if they’ve been unable to conceive after a year of regular, unprotected sex. People who are older than that or have a condition that could affect fertility shouldn’t wait longer than six months to see a specialist if they’ve been unable to conceive.
    • During pregnancy, make sure the essentials are covered. From having the hospital bag ready as the big day approaches to having everything ready for the baby, many future parents share these concerns, no matter their age.
    • Consider other roads to pregnancy. If an expert determines that natural conception won’t be possible or fertility treatments have failed, there are still other ways to become a parent. For example, adoption can be considered.

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    Benefits of family planning

    Family planning means deciding when and how many children to have, and this is achieved by using contraception and fertility management. Family planning can allow parents to achieve financial stability and emotional maturity, and advance their career before they start a family. It also means that they are in control of when they start trying to conceive, whether that means being in a stable relationship or pursuing single parenthood.

    Other benefits of family planning include:

    • Reduction in infant mortality
    • Prevention of sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) by using contraception
    • Enhanced education
    • Sustainable population growth
    • Allowing people to reach their goals

    Although female fertility is highest from ages 20 to 24, many people don’t feel ready for babies at that point. For anyone who is looking to become pregnant after 30 or 35, experts suggest planning the first pregnancy before 37 years old. This increases the chances of having at least one child before fertility declines further. Some people who are around or over the age of 35 freeze their eggs to use later. 

    At the end of the day, choosing to have a baby is a personal decision that should never be taken lightly. Every person experiences parenthood differently. However, taking age into account when making plans for the future is a smart step. In certain regards, being younger can mean faster conception and a healthier pregnancy.


    History of updates

    Current version (02 February 2023)

    Reviewed by Dr. Iryna Ilyich, Obstetrician and gynecologist, medical advisor, Flo Health Inc., Lithuania

    Published (17 April 2019)

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