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Most information for older mothers is geared towards those contemplating IVF, but what should you do if you suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself pregnant after age 45?

You have heard the expert opinions that getting pregnant after 45 is almost impossible. Statistics show that the experts are right:

  • Women in their twenties have a 20 to 25 percent chance of conceiving during any given month. They will also have a relatively low miscarriage rate at between five and 10 percent. 
  • The per-month chance of getting pregnant is around 15 percent for women in their thirties. They have a spontaneous miscarriage rate of about 20 percent.
  • Women in have around a five percent chance of conceiving naturally every month at 40, a rate that increases to 10 percent with IVF. Women in this age group have a 33 percent chance of miscarrying. By the time they are 45, the per-month pregnancy rate goes down to a shockingly low one percent.

Should you be over 45 and hoping to become a mother, the statistics may help you embark on your plans with a larger dose of realism that induces you to explore alternative options. Should you be younger, those figures may help you make the decision that getting pregnant a little earlier is the right thing to do after all. If you are already over 45 and you've just found out that you are expecting a(nother) baby, though, those statistics do not help you at all. Other women your age may not be able to get pregnant naturally, but you were, whether you intended to conceive or it just happened. 

Dorothy, a 48 year old friend, just found out that she is expecting her fifth baby. Because her period had already been irregular courtesy of the perimenopause, she was not sure whether her morning nausea was caused by pregnancy or something else at first. Still, this experienced mother's powerful instincts led her to take a pregnancy test — a test that turned out to be positive. With her youngest child being 10 years old, she was excited to be expecting again, but also scared. "What if something goes wrong?" she wanted to know. Her prime concerns? Chromosomal abnormalities, complications during pregnancy or childbirth, and how to be a new mother again after she thought she was "done" having babies.

Should you find yourself in a similar position, you are likely to have many of the same worries. 

What Should You Do When You Find Out You Are Pregnant?

The same advice that applies to any woman who finds herself pregnant unexpectedly applies to you — while you could have taken certain health measures to promote prenatal health if you were planning to get pregnant, that is simply not possible if you experience a surprise pregnancy. You can begin taking those measures as soon as you find out that you are pregnant, however.

Taking a daily dose of 400 mg of folic acid from the day you find out you are expecting will contribute towards preventing birth defects such as spina bifida. There is also evidence that an omega-3 fatty acid supplement will benefit your health and your baby's. In addition, you should make any necessary lifestyle adjustments: stop smoking if you did, eat a healthy and balanced diet, stop consuming alcohol, and cease rigorous exercise such as running until you have the chance to discuss the risk with your OBGYN.

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