Ten years ago today, I was 37 years old, giving birth to a beautiful baby girl. However, it was a long hard road to get there. After giving birth to 2 healthy bouncing baby boys, when we decided to try for a girl, we met with the heard ack of two miscarriages. When God finally blessed us to conceive her, I spent the whole time on bed rest, and the stress I went through from the doctors because I was over the age of 35 was often overwhelming. Today’s story is on Pregnancy After 35: What You Need To Know About Advanced Maternal Age..
Whether you’ve struggled with infertility throughout your life, or perhaps you’ve simply waited until you were more established in your career to start a family, making the decision to have a baby in your mid-to-late thirties can come with some unique challenges. While many women experience relatively straightforward pregnancies, as we grow older, the risk of complications does increase dramatically.
Nobody wants to discover that their unborn child is at a greater risk of health issues, nor do they want to learn that their own health may be at risk during pregnancy. However, taking the time to educate yourself about these very real concerns can make a significant difference in the outcome of the pregnancy. And in turn, you can help ensure a much easier gestation, for both yourself and your baby.
What Is “Advanced Maternal Age”?
Many people mistakenly believe that advanced maternal age (formerly known as a “geriatric pregnancy”) implies a mother who may be in her late forties or fifties. The fact is, though, that advanced maternal age starts at thirty-five by the time the baby is born. A woman is born with all of her eggs and, as she grows older, both the quality and the quantity of her eggs can start to diminish.
Once she hits thirty-five, these remaining eggs may not be as viable, making the likelihood of complications much higher. These issues may possibly affect both herself and her unborn child. While it is certainly ideal to try to plan for a family in your twenties or early thirties, this isn’t always possible for all women. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the chances of problems arising during pregnancy and childbirth.
Common Complications For Mature Mothers
It’s important to note that there is nothing particularly “special” about being thirty-five or older when having a child. Rather, it’s more of a general guideline as to when the risk of complications starts to increase. Problems can occur at younger ages, for instance, and it doesn’t automatically guarantee a smooth pregnancy. That said, there are many issues that can occur for expectant mothers who are at or beyond the age of thirty-five.
- Increased difficulty in getting pregnant. Older mothers may not be able to get pregnant as easily as their younger counterparts.
- A higher chance of having multiples. Twins are much more common in mature mothers.
- Gestational diabetes becomes more likely. Careful regulation of blood glucose levels can help reduce the chances of developing this disease.
- High blood pressure and preeclampsia are possible. Regular monitoring of blood pressure levels may help prevent these problems.
- Loss of pregnancy may occur. Sadly, the chances of having a miscarriage or stillbirth increase with the mother’s age.
- The health of the baby may be compromised. Chromosomal conditions, low birth weight, and genetic birth defects are more common in mature mothers.
- An elevated need for a C-section. Once the mother is over thirty-five, complications increase, and a C-section may become necessary.
While pregnancy is much safer for the mother and the fetus today than it was even fifty or a hundred years ago, there are still numerous issues that can occur due to advanced maternal age. This is why it is so vital to remain healthy throughout gestation. Minimizing exposure to anything that may harm yourself and your unborn baby, as well as scheduling routine medical appointments, can go far in reducing these risks.
If you are concerned about genetic anomalies in your child, you have several options to help put your mind at ease. For instance, there are many different types of prenatal diagnostic testing that you can undergo. These screenings can help identify any potential chromosomal or genetic defects, giving you the peace of mind that your baby is safe and free from harm.
Staying Healthy During Pregnancy
Just as a younger mother should strive to maintain good health during her pregnancy, so should a more mature expecting mother. In addition to avoiding tobacco and alcohol, both of which have been linked to complications, it’s also essential for the mother to try to keep all pre-existing medical conditions under control. Regular exercise, even if it’s just gentle walking, can also help protect the baby.
Another thing that can help you stay healthy during pregnancy is to take a prenatal vitamin, especially one that contains folic acid, iron, calcium, and vitamin D. A healthy diet is also important, and you should aim to eat ample fruits and vegetables, as well as lean proteins and fiber-rich whole grains. Getting enough sleep at night, as well as trying to relieve any existing stress, can also be beneficial.
No matter your reasons for delaying starting a family, it’s always a highly personal choice. However, doing so does come with an elevated amount of risk to yourself and your baby. By taking proactive measures to help prevent these complications from occurring, you can help ensure that you and your child are healthy when it comes time to give birth. And in turn, you can embrace your little bundle of joy without hesitation!