Are you planning a pregnancy after 35? Here are the possible risks and problems of “older” mothers and what to do to have a healthy pregnancy.
If you’re over 35 and hoping to get pregnant, you’re in good company. Many women delay pregnancy well into their thirties and deliver healthy babies. By taking special care, you can give your baby the best possible start.
- 1 Understand the risks
- 1.1 – Pregnancy may take longer
- 1.2 – You are more likely to have a multiple pregnancy
- 1.3 – You are more likely to develop gestational diabetes
- 1.4 – You are more likely to have high blood pressure during pregnancy
- 1.5 – You are more likely to have a low birth weight baby and to have a premature delivery.
- 1.6 – You may need a caesarean section
- 1.7 – The risk of chromosomal abnormalities is higher
- 1.8 – The risk of pregnancy loss is higher
- 2 Make healthy choices for your health and that of the baby
Understand the risks
The biological clock is a fact of life, but there is nothing tragic at 35, rest assured. It is simply an age where certain risks become more significant. For example:
– Pregnancy may take longer
We are born with a limited number of eggs. When you reach your mid to late thirties, your eggs decrease in quantity and quality. Also, eggs from older women are not as easily fertilized as those from younger women. If you are over 35 and have not been able to conceive for six months, consider asking your gynecologist or midwife for advice.
– You are more likely to have a multiple pregnancy
The risk of having twins increases with age due to hormonal changes that can cause several eggs to be released at the same time. The use of assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization, can also play a role.
– You are more likely to develop gestational diabetes
This type of diabetes, which only occurs during pregnancy, is more common in women as they age. It is essential to keep blood sugar levels in check tightly through diet and physical activity. Untreated, gestational diabetes can cause the baby to grow significantly above average, increasing the risk of injury during childbirth. Gestational diabetes can also increase the risk of premature birth, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and complications for the infant after delivery.
– You are more likely to have high blood pressure during pregnancy
Research indicates that high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy is more common in older women. Your doctor will carefully monitor your blood pressure and your baby’s growth and development. You will need more frequent obstetric appointments and you may need to deliver before your due date to avoid complications.
– You are more likely to have a low birth weight baby and to have a premature delivery.
Premature babies, especially those born very early, often have complicated medical issues.
– You may need a caesarean section
Older mothers have a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications that could lead to cesarean delivery. A complication is, for example, a condition in which the placenta blocks the cervix (placenta previa).
– The risk of chromosomal abnormalities is higher
Babies born to older mothers have a higher risk of having certain chromosomal problems, such as trisomy.
– The risk of pregnancy loss is higher
The risk of pregnancy loss through miscarriage increases with age. Possibly due to pre-existing medical conditions or fetal chromosomal abnormalities. Research suggests that the decrease in the quality of your eggs, combined with an increased risk of chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, could increase your risk of miscarriage. Ask your doctor to monitor your baby’s well-being during the last weeks of pregnancy.
Although more research is needed, studies suggest that men’s age at conception may also pose health risks to children.
Make healthy choices for your health and that of the baby
Taking care of yourself is the best way to take care of your baby. Pay special attention to the essentials:
– Make an appointment before conception
Talk to your doctor or gynecologist about your general health and discuss lifestyle changes that could improve your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby. Address any concerns you may have regarding fertility or pregnancy. Learn about ways to increase your chances of conception, and what options are available to you if you are having difficulty conceiving.
– Seek regular prenatal care
Regular prenatal visits help your doctor monitor your health and that of your baby. Mention any signs or symptoms that concern you. Talking to your doctor will probably reassure you.
– Adopt a healthy diet
During pregnancy you will need more folic acid, calcium, iron, vitamin D and other essential nutrients. If you’re already following a healthy diet, keep following it. Daily prenatal vitamin supplementation, ideally a few months before conception, can help fill the gaps.
– Gain weight the wise way
Gaining the right weight can help keep your baby healthy and make it easier for them to shed extra pounds after delivery.
– Stay active
Regular physical activity can help reduce or even prevent discomfort, increase your energy level and improve your overall health. It can also help prepare you for labor and delivery by increasing your endurance and muscle strength.
– Avoid risky substances
Alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs are prohibited during pregnancy. Avoid taking medications or food supplements without informing the healthcare professional following you.
– Find out about prenatal screening tests for chromosomal abnormalities
Ask your doctor about prenatal cell-free DNA testing. It is a method to screen for certain chromosomal abnormalities in a developing baby. In prenatal cell-free DNA screening, DNA from the mother and fetus is extracted from a sample of maternal blood and tested for increased risk of specific chromosomal problems, such as trisomy. Diagnostic tests such as chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis can also provide information about your baby’s chromosomes or the risk of specific chromosomal abnormalities. But they also carry a slight risk of miscarriage. Your doctor can help you weigh the risks and benefits.
Look to the future
The choices you make now, even before conception, can have a lasting effect on your baby. View pregnancy as an opportunity to nurture your baby and prepare for the exciting changes that lie ahead.