There are so many wonderful women over 40 who want to offer themselves to become surrogate mothers for women and couples who can not carry their own baby. However, it is an agency’s duty to protect the health of the women who are matched through that particular program. This is why Open Arms Consultants rarely will sign on a woman who is over 40 to become a surrogate. It is for the health and safety not only the baby that the surrogate is carrying but for the woman herself.
What women must know
Hallie Levine Sklar
While modern medicine is now able to get you pregnant into your fourth, fifth, or even sixth decade, it can’t guarantee a smooth and safe road to delivery. There are undeniable health risks to pregnancy in the peri- and postmenopausal years, risks that often aren’t revealed to the plus-40 women hoping to get pregnant. If you’re in your 40s and considering pregnancy, it’s critical to be proactive and get a thorough screening to rule out hidden heart disease or diabetes.
“All women in this age group need to get their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels checked, as well as an EKG,” before trying to get pregnant, Dr. Goldberg says. While a borderline or high level on any of these tests doesn’t necessarily rule out pregnancy, you’ll need to undergo even more detailed tests such as an echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to “see” any potential damage done already to your heart.
Women with risk factors for breast cancer—such as having a family history of the disease—should also think carefully before proceeding, Dr. Smith advises. Most women over the age of 45 are automatically referred to a high-risk practice. If you’re not, make sure you get a recommendation for a good one.
The bottom line: It is possible to have a baby in midlife. But before you proceed, it’s essential to understand the potential dangers to you and your baby.
“Even if a woman passes all the screening tests with flying colors, she’s still more at risk for health complications,” stresses Miriam Greene, MD, an OB-GYN at New York University Langone Medical Center. “And we just don’t know what the long-term health effects are going to be of all these added hormones on their bodies. If an older woman decides she wants to get pregnant, that’s her decision. But she should have her eyes wide open and make sure she’s fully aware of all the potential risks.”