A Second Pregnancy After 30, 35, or 40 (Preparation & What To Expect)

Given the rising cost of having children, the rising average age of marriage, and the desire of many women to find success in the workplace before starting a family, women – on average – are starting to have children later in life than they ever have before, but this also brings with it a unique set of risks. How does pregnancy change as you age? What are the specific concerns of becoming pregnant after 30? After 35? After 40?

Most women who become pregnant in their 30’s will have healthy pregnancies, but studies have shown that the risk of miscarriage and Down syndrome, in particular, increases with age. Pregnant women over 35 are considered high risk, especially those who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity.

Keep reading to find out how waiting longer to have a second baby can affect your chances for a successful pregnancy, as well as what you can do to put you, your pregnancy, and your baby in the best possible position.

How pregnancy risk changes as a woman gets older

Problems can arise during any pregnancy, although they become more likely as you age.

Pregnancy in your early thirties is likely to be comparable to your late twenties, but there is a noticeable decrease in your fertility and an increase in the possibility of complications after 35. At this age, moms can still have a healthy pregnancy and normal birth, but the chances of miscarriage, birth defects, and low birth weight increase yearly.

Some of these risks can be attributed to egg degradation with age, but much of the risk is related to the mother’s overall health. Underlying health concerns such as diabetes and high blood pressure can contribute to risks during pregnancy, and these are more likely to be found in women as they age.

Potential pregnancy risks that increase as you age include:

  • Miscarriage
  • Down syndrome
  • Preeclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Low birthweight
  • Premature birth

Pregnancy Risks by Age

AgeMiscarriageDown SyndromePreeclampsiaGestational DiabetesLow BirthweightPremature Birth
2011.2%.05%[no data available]2.5%2.6%4.0%
259.7%.08%6.4%6.2%1.9%3.3%
3010.8%.11%6.4%10.3%2.0%3.3%
3516.7%.29%9.4%21.7%2.7%4.4%
4033.2%1%9.4%31.9%3.6%5.9%

It is also more likely for women over 30 to conceive twins even without fertility treatments or a family history of multiples.

Does it take longer to get pregnant with a second child?

Even if you got pregnant on the first try in your twenties, it may take longer the second time around.

Women are the most fertile during their early twenties, but many people are not ready for children at that age.

As you age, fertility will decline and it will take longer to get pregnant:

  • After 30 – Your fertility is beginning to decline, although most women will still be able to conceive naturally given time.
  • After 35 – Fertility decreases significantly during your late thirties and into your early forties. Most couples will still be able to conceive, with 85% able to conceive within two years.
  • After 40 – Fertility is significantly decreased as your body is heading away from childbearing and toward menopause. It is much more difficult to get pregnant after 40, especially without fertility treatments.

If you and your partner want to have a second child before the mother is 35 (or 40), you’ll need to plan backwards, and take into account how long it may take to get pregnant.

Second pregnancy after 30

Despite the statistical difficulties of conceiving as you age, more women than ever are choosing to delay family planning and are not becoming pregnant with their second (or even first) child until after they are thirty.

When a baby girl is born, she already has all the eggs she will ever have. Once she starts menstruating, the number of eggs will start to go down although fertility levels and the likelihood of pregnancy complications will vary throughout her life.

During your early thirties, your fertility will begin to decline. This will manifest in it likely taking several months to get pregnant rather than conceiving immediately. The risk of complications is increased over your twenties, but not significantly.

Although your early twenties are the best time physically to have children, many parents consider their late twenties and early thirties to be the sweet spot of energy and stability.

Pregnancy after 30 statistics

Pregnancy after 30 is statistically similar to pregnancy after 25, with a few notable differences:

Tips for getting pregnant with a second baby after 30

After 30, it starts to become more statistically difficult to get pregnant, although most women will be able to conceive within a year of trying.

To optimize your likelihood of getting pregnant after 30:

  • Be proactive – Keep in mind that it make take longer to conceive the second time around, so you should account for the time you’ll likely need before your baby is born. Make sure you speak to your doctor to ensure you’re waiting long enough after your first child was born before you start trying.
  • Focus on your health – Mom’s health has an undeniable effect on the developing fetus. If you have any underlying issues or had specific problems during your first pregnancy (such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes), improving your health going into a pregnancy will make things better for both you and your baby.
  • Watch what you eat – If you’re over 30, you’ve probably noticed that you can’t eat whatever you want any more, and this is doubly true when you’re eating for two. Focus on maintaining a healthy diet of diverse foods, and keep in mind what foods you’ll need to be eating while you’re pregnant – those will also make a solid basis for your diet pre-pregnancy.
  • Take your vitamins – Prenatals aren’t just for pregnant women! Taking a daily prenatal will help prepare your body for your baby.

If you haven’t conceived within six months, consult your doctor.

Second pregnancy after 35

The turning point for a woman’s fertility is 35.

While women in their early thirties who are trying to get pregnant are statistically similar to those in their late twenties, risks go up significantly at 35, and again at 40.

If you are over 35 and trying to have a second baby, don’t freak out! Most women are still able to conceive and have successful pregnancies.

Pregnancy after 35 statistics

The statistics for women in the 35s group may look daunting, but there are plenty of women who have healthy babies at the age of 35:

Women who become pregnant at the age of 35 or older are considered at higher risk because of their advanced maternal age, but there are ways to improve your likelihood of a successful pregnancy.

Tips for getting pregnant with a second baby after 35

Since 35 is a turning point for conceiving, it’s essential to work closely with your doctor to ensure a healthy pregnancy:

  • Be proactive – Since it will probably take longer to conceive your second child, you should plan in advance and try to be flexible. Make sure you speak to your doctor to ensure you’re waiting long enough after your first child was born before you start trying, especially since it will likely take your body longer to recover from pregnancy and childbirth than it would in your twenties.
  • Focus on your health – Mom’s health has an undeniable effect on the developing fetus. If you have any underlying issues or had specific problems during your first pregnancy (such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes), work to improve your health to help minimize your risks of having these complications again. Since risks increase as you age, ensuring that you’re in the best health possible when you get pregnant is the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby.
  • Watch what you eat – Focus on maintaining a healthy diet of diverse foods, and keep in mind what foods you’ll need to be eating while you’re pregnant – those will also make a solid basis for your diet pre-pregnancy.
  • Take your vitamins – Prenatals aren’t just for pregnant women! Taking a daily prenatal will help prepare your body for your baby.

In general, the best thing you can do to improve your chances of getting pregnant is to make your body a more welcoming place for your baby – it’s just a little more difficult as your get older (and are already chasing around your first child!).

Second pregnancy after 40

Women in the forties face different challenges than younger women when it comes to getting pregnant and having children. Although most women don’t experience menopause until 51, most women are no longer fertile by their mid-40s.

Although it is possible to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy after 40, the potential risks increase each year. If you are planning to have a second child in your 40s, you should discuss it with your doctor to ensure that you’re in the best possible physical position to conceive, carry, and birth a new baby.

The biggest concern with pregnancy after 40 is the likelihood of miscarriage, which doubles between 35 and 40 (up to 33%). There is also a higher-than-typical chance of gestational diabetes, which can lead to issues for both mother and baby.

Pregnancy after 40 statistics

The statistics for women in their 40s can be overwhelming, so consult with your doctor if you have any concerns, particularly regarding any health issues you encountered during your previous pregnancy.

Here’s some general information about fertility and pregnancy for women over 40:

  • Women in their 40s have a 44% chance of conceiving in one year.
  • Second children born to women 40-44 contributed 3.4 births per 1000 people.
  • 52.6% of women 40-44 gave birth vaginally. Of those women, 11.4% were VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). The remaining 47.4% gave birth via c-section due to the high risk of stillborn birth in late gestation for women in their 40s.

Tips for getting pregnant with a second baby after 40

Given the potential difficulties of getting pregnant and staying healthy during your forties, you should consult your doctor before starting to try to conceive.

  • Be patient – Since it is likely to be more difficult to conceive your second child, you should plan in advance and try to be flexible. Given that fertility falls quickly after 40, consult your doctor if you have had no success after six months.
  • Focus on your health – Mom’s health has an undeniable effect on the developing fetus. If you have any underlying issues or had specific problems during your first pregnancy (such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes), work to improve your health to help minimize your risks of having these complications again. Since risks increase as you age, ensuring that you’re in the best health possible when you get pregnant is the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby.
  • Watch what you eat – Focus on maintaining a healthy diet of diverse foods, and keep in mind what foods you’ll need to be eating while you’re pregnant – those will also make a solid basis for your diet pre-pregnancy.
  • Take your vitamins – Prenatals aren’t just for pregnant women! Taking a daily prenatal will help prepare your body for your baby.

Despite the challenges, it is possible to have a safe and happy pregnancy and delivery in your forties – it’s just likely to take more work than would if you were 25, 30, or even 35.

By the way, I’ve put together a MEGA resource on the most common differences between the first and second pregnancy along with frequently asked questions! Check it out!

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