Fertility experts say that getting pregnant after age 45 is 'very slim.' These women did it anyway.
What it's like to have a baby in your mid- to late 40s.
Hollywood is seeing a baby boom among older moms. Hilary Swank just gave birth to her first children — twins — at the age of 48, while Da Brat, who just turned 49, announced that she and wife Jessica Dupart will be expecting their first child together. The rapper tagged Atlanta-area fertility clinic in her pregnancy announcement, thanking it "for helping us on our journey."
Celebrity moms giving birth in their mid- to late 40s is nothing new for Hollywood — Rachel Weisz gave birth to her second child in 2018 at age 48, and Laura Linney had her first child in 2014 at age 49. But there is a growing trend of older moms in the U.S. in general. Census Bureau data released last year showed that fertility rates are declining for younger women and increasing for their older counterparts. While the government agency didn't share numbers beyond age 44, the data show that fertility rates rapidly increased in women in the 40 to 44 age group. In 1990, the fertility rate in this group was about 5.6%; by 2019, it was nearly 13%. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the fertility rate increased nearly 4% in women aged 45 to 54 between 1990 and 2019.
It's not common for women to have babies in their mid- to late 40s, Dr. Jamie Grifo, director of NYU Langone Fertility Center and division director of reproductive endocrinology and infertility within the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life. "Even with reproductive assistance, achieving pregnancy after age 45 is very slim — this is because the number of eggs and the quality of those eggs is very low," he says. Women who want to conceive in their mid-40s may be encouraged to consider egg donation, he says.
It's also important to know that "the risk for miscarriage increases with increasing age," reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Asima Ahmad, chief medical officer and co-founder of Carrot Fertility, tells Yahoo Life. So does the risk of complications during pregnancy. "Women in their mid- to late 40s who become pregnant are at higher risk for complications in pregnancy, such as hypertension, gestational diabetes, poor fetal growth and operative delivery," Dr. Ann Korkidakis, a clinical fellow of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Boston IVF, says.
But that doesn't mean it's impossible to have a healthy pregnancy in your mid-40s and beyond, Dr. Alex Robles, a fertility expert at Columbia University Fertility Center, tells Yahoo Life. "It is possible to have a healthy pregnancy in this age group, but it is important to follow very closely with an OB/GYN provider and possibly even a high-risk obstetrics doctor," he says. "It is best to ensure that any pre-existing medical conditions be adequately controlled before attempting pregnancy."
It's not just celebrities that are having babies in their mid- and late 40s. Yahoo Life spoke with several women who did it. Here are their stories.
"I thought it was perimenopause."
Brittany Richardson gave birth to her first child, son Easton, in 2016 at age 45. "I had gotten married at 40, and we had gone for a stretch just kind of thinking, if it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, life goes on," she tells Yahoo Life. "I have two grown step-kids. I didn't get pregnant and I eventually went back on the [birth control] pill."
But during a routine checkup when she was 44, Richardson's doctor mentioned that, at some point, she would probably want to stop taking birth control. That was in January. "In February, I was pregnant," she says. Richardson says she felt "off" at the time and had aching breasts. She took a pregnancy test that came back negative. "I thought it was perimenopause," she says. But, when she was still "feeling crummy" a month later, she took another pregnancy test, just to be sure. It was positive.
Richardson says the pregnancy was "a shock" for her and her husband, Sean, but they were thrilled by the new development. "I always expected in my life that I would have kids — I just didn't meet the right guy until later," she says. "This pregnancy was truly a miracle and I loved every minute of it."
Richardson is now 51 and says she and her husband have been asked more than a few times if they're their son's grandparents. "When you say 'no, we're the parents,' they're horrified. It's pretty funny," she says. "You just learn to take it in stride."
Richardson says that she's "very thankful" for her son, adding, "my life is richer exponentially because we have him." She's also aware that her experience as an older mom is different from women who started having kids at a younger age.
"For us in our 50s, when Easton goes to bed, we go to bed," she says. "We like to be active with him. If he's running, we're running. If he wants to kick a ball, we are kicking a ball. We know that we have shorter days with him — we want to make the most of our time together."
"Life just sort of happened and I found myself wanting to have a child."
Leah Kinsella tells Yahoo Life that she felt "disbelief and joy" when she discovered that she was expecting her first child at age 44. While Kinsella had previously frozen her eggs (after being told by one fertility doctor that she was "too old" for the procedure), she ended up conceiving without reproductive assistance.
"I did not purposely wait," she says. "Life just sort of happened and I found myself wanting to have a child."
While Kinsella says her pregnancy experience was "beautiful," she admits that she felt some anxiety and fear about the outcome. "Meditating helped a lot," she says, noting that her son is now 2 years old.
"As with everything, timing is very personal," she says. "There are advantages to my age, as I know myself very well and I have done a lot of personal work so I have a good handle of my language and emotions." Kinsella says she also doesn't feel like she's missing out on anything.
"I had a wild period in my life and being more stable feels appropriate now more than ever," she says. "I am fully devoted and I accept the responsibility of having a child with less conflict than I might have in my 20s."
"The fear that was put into me made me almost not even try, and I’m so glad I did."
Comedian Jessica Delfino tells Yahoo Life that she was "finally ready" to have her first child at age 40, and her second at age 46. "The scariest part was Googling it and talking to doctors who called me 'geriatric' and assured me that everything would probably be terrible and tragic," she says. "I know that for some people it is, so I can’t take that for granted."
Delfino consulted a fertility clinic at one point, only to be told that she wouldn't be considered a candidate for reproductive assistance unless she considered using an egg donor. "The fear that was put into me made me almost not even try [to conceive], and I’m so glad I did," she says.
Delfino says she tried for three years to conceive her second child. "I was able to conceive without scientistic reproductive assistance, though I did change my diet to include a lot more vegetables and water, increased exercise to make sure I was getting 30 to 45 minutes a day and tracked my cycles very carefully," she says. "We also did a babymoon and I think it worked — the dates line up."
Delfino says she was "really happy when I found out I was pregnant," adding that "everything went as it should have." Her second child was born last July.
"A father at our kids' school quipped, 'You're going to delivery your third baby and then go right into menopause.'"
"I didn't decide to be an older mom. It's just how life played out," mom of three Anna Vlachos tells Yahoo Life. Vlachos had her first child when she was 41, the second when she was 43 and the third when she was 46.
"I was very career-driven and I didn't meet my husband 'til my mid-30s," she says. "We had the discussion about having kids and we hoped my age wasn't going to be an issue. Thankfully, I got pregnant rather quickly — about two months after we got married. I didn't think it would happen so fast."
Vlachos says that all of her pregnancies were classified as "geriatric" because of her age, and her third child was a surprise. "I was 45 when I got pregnant and I admit I was a bit freaked out," she says. But the pregnancy progressed smoothly and Vlachos says that her youngest child is "that extra layer of love that makes our family complete."
Vlachos says she received some unwanted comments during her third pregnancy. "I would get high-pitched squeals of, what? No way!" she says. "Then I'd get hit with a barrage of questions — what about risks? Is your baby OK? What does your doctor say? I'd get these remarks from strangers, friends and even family members."
Vlachos says some of the comments were hurtful: "I remember a father at our kids' school quipped, 'You're going to delivery your third baby and then go right into menopause.' That felt like a punch to the gut."
Now, Vlachos says that some people "still have a hard time believing I gave birth to all my kids in my 40s." But, she adds, "I wouldn't change a thing."
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