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What is the right age to have a child??

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

Though contraception is available easily these days and there is a wide range of the same to choose from, it remains a fact that fertility naturally declines with age, consequently increasing the chances of having complications in the pregnancy. But at the same time, it should be your decision alone as to when you want to have a child.

There are many factors involved while planning a child, such as mental preparedness, career goals, financial stability, secure accommodation etc; here, we’ll walk you through the decision when to have your child medically.

It is pertinent to mention here beforehand that each woman is born with almost 10-15 lakh ova in her ovaries. The number and quality of these eggs decline gradually. It remains an undisputed fact that, health wise, the reproductive system of a woman is at its peak in her teenage and twenties, but as the body is best prepared for carrying a child at that stage of life, a woman is normally not mentally prepared to become a mother then. As the world progresses, more girls are getting enrolled in schools and pursuing higher education which normally lasts till they are 23-25 years old. After that as the professional career starts, many want to delay marriage and having a child subsequently in order to succeed professionally and be settled in life first.

So, a woman is at the prime of her age when in her twenties because her periods have evened out and formed a stable cycle thus the fertile days are quite predictable helping a woman to conceive rather easily when planning to do so. Also, the energy and enthusiasm of youth helps a young woman’s body adapt to the changes that pregnancy causes to her body better and bearing the extra load on stronger bones and muscles is less straining when compared to fellow pregnant women in late 30s or 40s. Also, having a baby in your 20s lowers the associated risks of having any complications significantly.

If getting pregnant in your 20s isn’t a good option to you, one can always opt for ART (Assisted Reproductive Techniques) or freezing eggs to conceive in case they find it difficult to do so later in life, but even the chances for having a successful pregnancy with such methods decrease as you progress into age.

As you learn as you grow, a little wisdom and experience in your kitty is never bad; studies show that children born to women who had them at a later stage in life tend to have better developed cognitive skills compared to others. Such children also tend to be comparatively more stable emotionally, socially and behaviourally as their mothers are normally more patient with them for a variety of reasons. If you like chubby kids, maybe having a child in your 30s is not such a bad idea as reports suggest that women who delay pregnancy to their 30s have children with a good birth weight. But at the same time, it can get difficult to conceive a child as your biological clock ticks away. It has been observed that a woman in her 30s has 50% lesser chances of conceiving even on her fertile days when compared to a woman in her 20s.

Doctors say that as a woman reaches the age of 35-37, she is left with only 25000-30000 eggs, and these eggs aren’t of the best quality or viability often, thus adding to the risk for miscarriage and genetic abnormalities. Further, with passing years, chances of developing diabetes, heart diseases or hypertension increase, thus putting a woman at a risk of complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or the child being born with Down’s syndrome or any other genetic defects. A couple should always consult a doctor, when a woman is of 35 years of age or less, if they have been trying to conceive for more than a year and still are not successful.

Moving on to the next decade of a woman’s life, i.e. in her 40s, the chances of conception turn upside down when put in contrast with the highly possible rates in her 20s. In fact, a pregnancy in 40s is usually the total opposite of a pregnancy in the 20s. The body has worn out fairly, the quality of the ova has deteriorated significantly in turn increasing the chances of having chromosomal abnormalities and chances of having multiple babies at once increases too(the ovaries release multiple eggs as a natural way to increase chances of conception after a certain age). The associated risks of gestational complications also rise significantly in late pregnancies. Also, the rate of caesarean deliveries is higher (59% as compared to 29% with younger women) in women who have their first baby after the age of 40. With the increased chances of having a caesarean delivery, the risk of having complications such as embolism, stroke, peripartium cardiomyopathy or haemorrhage during delivery also endangers the life of the mother. A woman who gives birth after 35, is potentially 26% more likely to get diagnosed of breast cancer in the next 15 years after childbirth as compared to women who never gave birth. It is always better to consult a doctor and get briefed and assessed for long term risks and possible complications associated with pregnancy if you plan on having a baby after 37.

Similarly, even male fertility starts to decline after 40. The sperm count and viability lowers gradually. At least 40% of sperms have to have good motility, shape and DNA composition for a man to be able to impregnate his partner. So, while a woman is considering her age when thinking about getting pregnant, she should also take her partner’s age in consideration equally.

Therefore, even if you feel that you’ll be more financially and professionally stable in your 40s, your body may not respond well to your wish to have a child then. The couple should always consult a doctor, when a woman is of 35 years age or more, if they have been trying to conceive for more than six months and yet are not successful.

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