Have you crossed 35 and are planning to conceive?
Yes! Then you are in good company. Many women are delaying pregnancy well into their 30s and beyond and are delivering healthy babies. The risks of pregnancy after 35 tend to get exaggerated but taking special care can help give you and your baby the best start.
Here are some challenges that you may face if you are planning to conceive post 35.
Getting pregnant might take a longer time. You are born with a limited number of eggs at birth. By puberty, you lose half of your eggs and by the time you reach your mid-to-late 30s, your eggs decrease in quantity and quality. Also at an older age, the eggs aren’t fertilized as easily as it would when you were younger. If you are in your late 30’s and haven’t been able to conceive for six months, consider consulting your obstetrician for advice.
Multiple pregnancy is very likely to occur. Hormonal changes with older age could cause the release of multiple eggs at the same time and hence increasing the chances of having twins. Pregnancy through assisted reproductive technologies may also result in conceiving twins.
The risk of pregnancy loss is higher. As you get older, perhaps due to pre-existing medical conditions or fetal chromosomal abnormalities, you are at a higher risk of having a miscarriage or a stillbirth. Research suggests that this may be due to a combination of a decrease in the quality of your eggs and an increase in the risk of chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. During your last weeks of pregnancy, your obstetrician might suggest regular monitoring to ensure the well - being of the mother and the child.
The risk of chromosome abnormalities is higher. Babies born to mothers above the age of 35 are at a higher risk of certain chromosome problems, such as Down syndrome.
You’re more likely to develop gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs only during pregnancy and is more common for women conceiving at an older age. Diabetes during pregnancy can cause the baby to grow larger than the average - increasing the risk of injuries during delivery. It is needed to control blood sugar levels through diet and physical activity to decrease the risk of preterm delivery, high blood sugar, and complications to your infant post birth.
You’re also likely to develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. High blood pressure that develops during pregnancy is most commonly seen in older women. You will need to visit your obstetrician more frequently to monitor your blood pressure and your baby’s development. If needed, you might have to deliver before your due date to avoid complications.
You’re more likely to have a premature birth. Premature birth often comes with complicated medical problems, especially for the babies born the earliest. They may also have very low birth weight.
You might need a C-section. Women conceiving at an older age are at a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications that might lead to a Cesarean. One such example of a complication is Placenta Previa, a condition in which the placenta blocks the cervix not allowing a natural birth.
There are certainly a list of challenges that older women may face while conceiving or during their pregnancy. But few of these conditions can be avoided if you can take very good care of yourself. Remember! Your baby is healthy if you are!
Here are a few basics you need to pay attention to -
Consult your Obstetrician before you start planning for a baby. It is always good to speak to your obstetrician about your overall health and lifestyle before you plan. Your obstetrician may advice few lifestyle changes, if necessary, to improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy. In case you have trouble conceiving or otherwise, do not hesitate to discuss your concerns about fertility or pregnancy.
Seek regular prenatal care. Regular prenatal visits are a must and they help your obstetrician to monitor your health and your baby’s health. Mention any signs or symptoms that concern you. Talking to your obstetrician is likely to put your mind at ease.
Eat a healthy diet. During pregnancy, your body will need more of folic acids, calcium, iron, vitamin D and other essential nutrients. Maintain a healthy diet to enrich your body with these nutrients. Starting a daily prenatal vitamin, ideally a few months before conception can help fill any gaps.
Gain weight wisely. Gaining the right amount of weight is necessary to support your baby’s health. It also makes it easier to shed the extra weight after delivery. Work with your obstetrician to determine what’s right for you.
Stay active. Regular physical activity can help you prepare for labor and childbirth by increasing your stamina and muscle strength. It can also help boost your energy level and improve your overall health. Consult your obstetrician before you start or continue an exercise regime.
Avoid risky substances. Smoking and alcohol consumption must be avoided right from the time you start planning to conceive.