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The late pregnancy shift

Having a baby post 40? It’s possible – but with help. Today, the trend of late motherhood is not uncommon. However, there are several aspects that need to be considered before a woman decides to go in for a baby at this age.

health and fitness Updated: Jan 22, 2011 20:09 IST
Veenu Singh

What do women like Farah Khan, Madonna, Cherie Blair, and Mariah Carey have in common (apart from being celebs)? They all became mothers in their 40s! Today, the trend of late motherhood is not uncommon. "There has been more than a 10 per cent increase in the number of women in their 40s coming to us with the hope of bearing a child," says Dr Loveleena Nadir, senior consultant, obstetrics and gynecology, Fortis La Femme Hospital, Delhi.

However, there are several aspects that need to be considered before a woman decides to go in for a baby at this age. Gynaecologists advise women to try and have children before the age of 37. "All women have a fertility cycle, which generally is about their ability to have children up to a certain age. This cycle is affected by factors like whether your mother had an early or normal menopause, whether you are suffering from some autoimmune disease and even if you are leading an unhealthy lifestyle," explains Dr Indira Ganeshan, IVF expert and gynecologist, BL Kapur Hospital.

PregnantConception Au Naturel?

According to Dr Ganeshan, doctors don’t advise women to go in for childbirth beyond the age of 42. After 39, the chances of a natural birth without complications is around 5 per cent. "At this age, the chances of miscarriage and problems like Down’s Syndrome are very high so we need to be cautious about the health of the woman and the foetus," says Dr. Ganeshan. "If the woman is suffering from high BP and diabetes, she needs to be monitored all the time to avoid complications."


Simply put, IVF or In-Vitro Fertilisation is the process by which egg cells are fertilised by sperm outside the body. IVF is considered a good option for infertility, especially if other methods have failed. IVF involves hormonally controlling the ovulatory process, removing ova (eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting the sperm fertilise them in a fluid medium. The fertilised egg is then transferred to the patient’s uterus in order to establish a successful pregnancy.

Success rate: "It is about 30 to 40 per cent," explains Dr Nadir. IVF won’t work if there is a deficiency of eggs. "So a lot of counselling is required, for the woman and the husband, as sperm quality deteriorates after 40," explains Dr Shivani Gaur, gynaecologist at Phoenix Hospital.

Cost: Depending on the centre, IVF costs anywhere between Rs.50,000 to R1.4 lakh and takes about two months from planning to

final results.

Egg Donation

In egg donation, the eggs of a younger woman are used (so even if a woman has attained menopause, it still works). Ideally, an unknown donor is suitable, but women may ask relatives or friends to help. "However, this relative can only be from the woman’s side so they are not genetically related to the husband," explains Dr Ganeshan.

Success rate: Women over 40 stand a 50 per cent chance of becoming pregnant with this method. Egg donation takes about two months from planning to the final stage and is gaining ground. "Usually, the couple wants eggs from an anonymous donor with a matching blood group," says Dr Ganeshan. "Many tests need to be conducted on a regular basis for a smooth pregnancy."

Cost: This can range from Rs.1.5 to 2.5 lakh, depending on the centre.

From HT Brunch, Januray 23
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