Late pregnancy: how late can you become a mother?

Grossesse tardive : jusqu’à quel âge peut-on devenir maman ?

More and more women are becoming pregnant after the age of 40. Late-onset pregnancy is a phenomenon that is constantly on the rise. The latest INSEE estimates tell us that late fertility has never been at such a high level since 1979.

What is late pregnancy?

Women's biological hormones cause fertility to decline with age. From a medical point of view, we speak of late pregnancy from the age of 40. More and more women are having children at an advanced age. The average age of first pregnancy is now around 29-30.

There are many reasons for the increase in late pregnancies, but the most frequent are as follows:

  • Changes in society and in women's status: longer studies, careers, contraception, etc;
  • advances in medically assisted reproduction (PMA is covered by social security up to the age of 43).

At what age can a woman become pregnant naturally?

To understand why fertility declines with age, we need to go back to theembryonic stage. The ovaries form at this stage, and women are born with a predetermined number of eggs.

These eggs remain at rest until puberty arrives, when they are used during menstrual cycles. At some point, there are no eggs left.

Moreover, egg quality diminishes over time. This is not the case for everyone: some women have no problem getting pregnant at 40, while others find it difficult from the age of 30.

Generally speaking, it is estimated that fertility begins to decline after the age of 30, and even more so after the age of 37.

What are the chances of becoming a mother after 40?

It's a question that many people ask: is it still possible to get pregnant after 40? The figures agree that the risk of not getting pregnant spontaneously increases markedly with age, following this trend:

  • From 4% at age 20 ;
  • 14% at 35;
  • 35% at 40;
  • 80% at 45;

After the age of 45, it is estimated that women enter an age when pregnancies are considered "at risk", since complications may arise in 20 to 30% of cases.

Natural fertility rates

Even if you're in good health, fertility declines sharply after the age of 40. IF you are planning to become pregnant, we recommend that you make an appointment for a pre-conception consultation. Late pregnancies are closely monitored.

To increase your chances of a natural pregnancy after the age of 35, several changes can be implemented:

  • Stop smoking;
  • Reduce alcohol consumption;
  • Take up sport and eat a more balanced diet;
  • Reduce caffeine consumption: caffeine is thought to reduce the chances of getting pregnant and increase the risk of miscarriage. If you're trying to get pregnant, it's best to reduce your caffeine intake.

Don't hesitate to consult your doctor to check your general state of health. Sometimes, simple disorders can lead to hormonal imbalances that make it more difficult to conceive, even though they are easily treatable.

Assisted reproduction (PMA)

PMA is covered by social security in France up to the age of 43, as explained above. Older women who wish to have a child often travel to foreign countries. In Spain, for example, the age limit for egg donation is 50. But in other countries, such as the USA, there is no age limit.

If you're having trouble getting pregnant, it's possible to determine the cause of infertility in around 70% of cases. There may be several causes, and identifying them will lead to the best treatment.

As explained above, if you're planning a pregnancy and you're over 40, it's advisable to make an appointment with a doctor. This will enable you to ask questions, take your health history into account and offer you the most appropriate follow-up.

What are the advantages of late pregnancy?

Many women are becoming pregnant later and later. And there are several advantages to this. First of all, it's important to bear in mind that habits have changed, and more and more people are choosing to start a family late. Studies take longer than they used to, and many people now meet their partners late in life. Many wait until they have a stable situation before embarking on a baby project!

What are the risks of a late pregnancy?

However, it's important to bear in mind that a late pregnancy presents risks for both the woman and the baby.

For the pregnant woman

For the pregnant woman, late pregnancy presents a risk of high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. These risks are all the greater when the pregnant woman is older. Pregnancy after the age of 40 entails the risk of :

  • Premature birth;
  • Low-birth-weight babies;
  • Miscarriage;
  • Chromosomal abnormalities;
  • An increase in stillbirths.

But with good gynaecological care, pregnancy usually goes off without a hitch.

You should also bear in mind that if you became pregnant using MAP, IVF and egg donation, the risk of hypertensionand pre-eclampsia is higher than with normal IVF.

For the baby

Delayed pregnancy also presents risks for the baby, including miscarriages and chromosomal abnormalities. In fact, egg quality declines as you get older. But don't worry: tests will be carried out to determine the extent of the risk.

Among chromosomal anomalies, trisomy 21 is the most common, affecting 1 in 400 pregnancies. In France, all women are free to undergo screening for trisomy 21 during their pregnancy. However, screening is not compulsory.

What is the medical follow-up for a late pregnancy?

Late pregnancies are closely monitored. Especially during the first trimester, which is the most complicated period for women over 40. This is when you have the greatest chance of miscarriage.

Ultrasound scans may be more frequent, and the doctor's order tostop work may come more suddenly.

Blood pressure and gestational diabetes are also closely monitored.

Does late pregnancy complicate childbirth?

Childbirth can also be a little more complicated in the case of a late pregnancy: the risk of complications increases slightly. By complications, we mean the risk of a perineal tear, or a delivery requiring the intervention of a medical team, Caesarean section, etc...

Late pregnancy FAQs

What is the age limit for having a baby?

The only age limit for pregnancy is that of the woman's biological clock. After the menopause, a woman no longer menstruates and her ovaries no longer produce eggs. Pregnancy is therefore no longer possible. According to the Améli health authority, the age of menopause is between 45 and 55.

Can I get pregnant at 47?

Yes, it is possible to become pregnant at 47, but the risks associated with a late pregnancy are higher than for a pregnancy at 30. What's more, your menopause must not have begun. We recommend that you discuss your pregnancy plans with a doctor.

What is the age of the woman who gave birth the latest?

Prabha Devi gave birth to a baby girl in India at the age of 75, breaking the record for the world's latest pregnancy. The pregnancy was unnatural: she underwent In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and gave birth 6 months later by Caesarean section.

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The information contained in the articles on is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.