How Common is an Unplanned Pregnancy in Your 40s

An unplanned pregnancy might sound like a teenage problem, but it’s very possible to have an unplanned pregnancy in your 40s. At my son’s elementary school right now, two 41-year-old moms and one 45-year-old mom are pregnant. And they aren’t shy about telling  everyone that these babies weren’t planned.

I wasn’t shocked to learn these mamas were pregnant; my grandmother had a baby at 40 and my own mom had one at 42. (I can’t speak for the women in question, however I imagine they were quite surprised!). But with so many women struggling with infertility these days, and the media constantly telling us that getting pregnant after age 35 might be challenging, it’s easy to fall into thinking that most of us are washed-up baby-makers by age 40 (without IVF, at least). This is especially true if a woman experienced any difficulty conceiving her last baby. If that one didn’t come easy, there’s small chance of having another, right?!

But the truth is,  many women can and do still get pregnant in their early 40s (and later). In fact, the Mayo Clinic advises women who don’t want any more children to use birth control until they have been in menopause for a year, which for some women could be age 55! As more women delay having kids, the birth rates for older moms are rising, and plenty of those moms get pregnant naturally. (The statistics say for a 40-year-old woman there’s about a five percent chance every month of getting pregnant).

It’s encouraging news for 40-something year-old moms who want kids. For the rest of us, it’s a reminder not to quit or be careless about birth control (unless you’re actually secretly wishing for an “oops” baby). Because it can happen!

One mama on the playground said it best: “You let your guard down, stop playing defense, and bam! It happens.” Although unplanned pregnancies don’t have to be regrettable — we love kids around here! — if you think you’re done with raising babies, having another one will surely be an adjustment in both attitude and lifestyle.

What do you think? Would you be surprised to find yourself expecting again?