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Being pregnant after 40

3-minute read

If you’re over 40 and you’re having a baby, there’s plenty to look forward to and think about, such as the benefits of being an older mother. You probably know yourself, and your strengths and weaknesses, better than you did when you were 20. You have more life experience to draw on.

Most women over 40 have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. But there are some thing you need to think about, and you’ll want to be sure to get good antenatal care.

Antenatal care

Antenatal care, or care while you’re pregnant, is an important way to keep yourself and your growing baby healthy. The aim is to see a doctor or midwife regularly so they can watch out for you and your health. They can provide advice, answer questions, deal with any fears and help you prepare for the birth.

They can check, through physical examination, blood tests and ultrasound, for any of the problems that can pop up in any pregnancy.

As with any women who is pregnant, you’ll discuss:

You might also want to talk about other aspects of your life such as exercise, work, sleep or travel.

You can also discuss your plans for your birth and, as the time gets closer, put those plans into action.

Antenatal care for the mother over 40

It’s all the same as for younger women. But there are a few things that are more common for women over 40.

Older women are more likely than others to:

So good antenatal care is even more important.

Genetic conditions

Older women are also more likely than others to have a child with a genetic condition such as Down syndrome.

It is worth talking to your doctor or midwife about the chances of problems, and what you would like to do about it.

There are tests you can have, but none of them is compulsory — they're a personal choice.

If you want, you can have screening tests, such as an early ultrasound and/or a blood test.

And if it looks like there might be a problem, you can have a diagnostic test such as chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis.

You can also arrange to have genetic counselling, where a specialist counsellor talks to you about your family, about what might or might happen with your baby, and about how you might handle the situation.

For more information and advice, call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436.

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Last reviewed: February 2020

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