If you're a woman and older 35 years and planning to have a baby, you're in the right place. There are many women who are delaying their pregnancy well into their 30s and beyond, and they do deliver healthy babies. Taking special care of yourself could help give your baby the best start.
Understand the risk factors:
The biological clock is definitely a fact of life, but there's nothing weird or magical about age 35. It is simply an age at which various risks become more discussion-worthy. Those risks are as follows:
- It may take you longer to get pregnant. You're born with limited number of eggs and as you reach your mid- to late 30s, your eggs decrease in quality and quantity. Also, the eggs of older women aren't fertilized as easily as younger women's eggs do. If you are older than 35 years and haven't been able to conceive for six months, consider asking your physician or health care provider for further advice.
- You are more likely to have a multiple pregnancy. The chance of having twins increases with as you grow older due to some hormonal changes which can cause the release of multiple eggs at the same time. Using assisted reproductive technologies, such as in-vitro fertilization may even play a role.
- You are more likely to develop gestational diabetes if you are thinking of pregnancy after age 35. This type of diabetes, that occurs only during pregnancy, is more common as women grow older. Physical activity and tight control of blood sugar through diet is necessary. Sometimes, certain medications are required too. If gestational diabetes is left untreated, it can cause a baby to grow significantly larger than the average, and this increases the risk of injuries during delivery. Gestational diabetes can even increase the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy, premature delivery and certain complications to your infant or newborn after delivery.
- You are more likely to develop high blood pressure during advanced age pregnancy. Research suggests that high blood pressure which develops during pregnancy is more common in older women than it is in younger women. Your physician or health care provider would carefully monitor your blood pressure and your growth and development of your baby. You would require more frequent obstetric appointments and you may need to deliver before your due date to avoid any complications.
- You are more likely to give birth to a low weight baby and premature birth. Premature babies, especially the ones born earliest, might have some complicated medical problems.
- You may need a C-section. Older women have a higher risk of complications related to pregnancy which may lead to a C-section delivery. One example of a complication is a condition where the placenta blocks the cervix (placenta previa).
- The risks of chromosome abnormalities are high. Babies who are born to older women have a higher risk of certain chromosome problems, like the Down syndrome.
- The risk of pregnancy loss is higher for older women. The risk of pregnancy loss, by miscarriage or by stillbirth, increases as you grow older, perhaps due to some pre-existing medical conditions or certain foetal chromosomal abnormalities. A research states that the decrease in the quality of your eggs, combined with an increased risk of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can increase your risk of stillbirth, miscarriage or any birth defects. Consult your physician about monitoring your baby's well-being during the last weeks of your pregnancy.
While further research is required, studies suggest that men's ages at the time of conception, the paternal age, may even pose health risks for children.
Your Partner’s Age Matters:
Here’s something you probably weren't aware of; if your husband or your partner is five years older than you, and your age is above 35 years, your odds for conception are lower.
In the same study, the one which looked at conception rates on a woman’s most fertile days, women between ages 35 and 39 with similarly aged partners had a conception rate of about 29.3 percent. But, if their male partners were five years older, their success rate dropped to about 18 percent.
Again, these rates do not take into consideration the miscarriage rates, and the birth defect and miscarriage rates do increase in accordance to the age of the couple. The age of the male partner does matter.
When to Talk to Your Doctor:
Time is of the essence after the age of 35. For this reason, it’s really crucial that you don’t delay seeking help if you can’t conceive after 6 months. It might seem strange to get help quickly whenever you feel that your age lowers your monthly fertility odds. There are women who might not conceive on their own in 6 months but then would conceive naturally after a year or even 2 years.
Still, it’s better to get the fertility testing done after just 6 months of trying if your age is 35 years or over 35. If any fertility problem is found, you would be more likely to have success in the treatment sooner than later. If there no fertility problems or issues are detected, your doctor might suggest you to continue trying, to conceive naturally for another few months and come back if you still do not succeed.
What tests would you have to undergo? For you, an ultrasound, a few blood tests and a specialized x-ray, called an HSG, should be done, at the very least. For your male partner, a semen analysis shall be ordered. Once the results of the tests are out, you can consult your doctor regarding the steps you should take next.
Fertility Treatment and Age-Related Infertility:
Speaking of the fertility treatments, don’t delay in reaching out for help thinking that fertility treatments would make up for the lost time. Unfortunately, fertility treatments become less successful your grow older.
One research studied the conception rates for women who start trying to conceive at age 30, 35 and 40, and then whether the fertility treatments could make up for the pregnancies lost from delaying childbearing.
They found out that fertility treatments could only make up for half of the successful pregnancies lost while delaying conception until age 35 instead of starting at 30 years, and could only make up for 30 percent of the healthy pregnancies lost when women delayed starting at 40 years instead of 35 years.
While looking at pregnancy success rates for the fertility drugs like Clomid, or for certain fertility procedures like IVF or IUI, keep in mind that cause of infertility and your age matters. Your odds for pregnancy success with an IUI treatment at 27 years of age is very different from when you're 37.
Make healthy choices:
Taking good care of yourself is the best way to take care of your baby. Take extra care and pay special attention to these basics:
- Make a preconception appointment. Talk to your physician or health care provider about your overall health and discuss the changes in lifestyle which may improve your chances for a healthy pregnancy and baby. Address all the questions and concerns you have about fertility or pregnancy. Ask your health care provider that how can you boost the odds of conception, and the options if you have trouble conceiving.
- Look for regular prenatal care. Regular visits can help your health care provider monitor you and your baby's health. Mention any symptoms and signs which concern you. Reaching out to your health care provider is likely to relax you and put your mind at ease.
- Follow a healthy diet. During pregnancy, you require more folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D and other necessary nutrients. If you are already maintaining a healthy diet, keep following it. A daily prenatal vitamin, ideally starting a few months before conception, could help you fill any gaps.
- Gain your weight wisely. Gaining the appropriate amount of weight could support the health of your baby, and make it easier to lose the extra pounds after delivery. Talk to your health care provider to identify what's right for you.
- Keep yourself active. Regular physical activity could help prevent or ease discomfort, improve your overall health and boost up your energy levels. It could even help you prepare for labour and childbirth by increasing your muscle strength and stamina. Get the approval of your health care provider before continuing or starting an exercise program, especially if you are suffering from an underlying condition.
- Avoid consuming any risky substances. Tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs are strictly prohibited during a pregnancy. Clear any supplements or medications with your health care provider well ahead of time.
Tags: Pregnancy after 35 risk factors, Pregnancy age limit, Second pregnancy after 35
Taylor writes for the Pregnancy and Baby Care section of the blog and has a knack for everything creative. She holds a Diploma of Medicine in Nursing & Paramedical and is known to add innovation in everything she does. An ardent lover of coffee, Taylor makes sure to go at a coffee tasting spree at least twice a month.