Biological clocks be damned!!! More American women than ever are having babies at an age when previous generations might have been sending their kids off to college. The number of women delivering their bundles of joy after age 40 has doubled in the past two decades, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Famous Moms over 40 Madonna

But even with recent medical advances, maternity at midlife isn’t easy. The chances of conceiving naturally are slim at 40—about 5 percent–and virtually nil after 45. And the risk of complications increases with maternal age. Meet a diverse group of women–from Madonna to Sarah Palin–who have defied the odds to give birth at 41, 51 and beyond.

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